Press releases are the secret to grabbing the media’s attention. These are short, compelling statements that highlight something newsworthy to get a journalist to reach out for more details.
Earned media coverage for your product or service (by sending out a press release) is often more effective than paying for advertisements. The problem is most people don’t know where to start.
There is a specific style and format to press releases that experienced journalists have come to expect.
If you’re new to this world, we’ve compiled this guide on how to distribute a press release. Keep reading below for tips on compiling your media contact list, writing the best release possible, and maximizing your media exposure.
Regardless of whether you’re writing a press release for a government agency, non-profit, or retailer, your first step should be to consider your target audience. Who are you trying to reach and what is it you want them to know?
Here are some target audience demographics to consider:
Understanding who your audience is can help with identifying what type of media they consume. Your next step is to hit the Internet and begin researching media outlets whose target audience matches yours. This will take time, but it’s worth it in the end.
You’ll want to consider traditional media like newspapers, magazines, television, or radio, but also new and emerging media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, blogs, or podcasts.
Create a big spreadsheet for your media contact list. Make notes of what topics each outlet prefers and the total size of their readership. Look to see when they publish so you’ll understand the best time to send them a press release.
One pro tip is to find individual writers or reporters who specialize in your product or service. Sending your press release to their actual email address is more likely to result in a story than a generic submission box.
Most email addresses can be found at the beginning or end of a story, or in the contact section of a news website. Another option is finding them on Twitter since this is the preferred social media platform for journalists.
Don’t send out your press release until you have finalized the media list.
Now that your media contact list has been compiled, your next step is to write and fine-tune a press release. This is harder than it sounds.
Journalists receive hundreds of press releases a day so you need to make yours grab their attention. First, check that your release is as clear and concise as possible. Spend extra time on your headline and first sentence (or lede).
Keep the “5 Ws” in mind: who, what, when, where, why, and of course, how. To be successful, you need to think like a journalist.
Most reporters or editors skim press releases in their inbox so you only have a few seconds to pique their interest.
Here are five rules to writing an effective press release from CBS News:
If your release is well-written, some editors may run it as-is or with a few minor edits. This means you got a story published for your product or service and it included everything you wanted it to highlight. That’s a win-win.
On the other hand, if you’re only interested in boosting SEO but have nothing unique to say and no PR plan in place, you shouldn’t write a press release. Move on and select something else to write about.
Being misleading, not getting to the point, and having a release full of errors will also be dead on arrival. Seasoned journalists can see right through these cheap tactics.
Be patient when you send out a press release.
You may get a reply within a day but it could take a week or more. It all depends on several factors including the reporter’s schedule, what’s trending at that moment, and the outlet’s editorial calendar.
There is an email etiquette for PR people communicating with the media, things like not sending gigantic attachments, not forwarding a release you already sent to others, and using BCC to hide your media list.
One thing you should do is follow-up after sending a press release. This could open the door for additional questions and pave the way for building a long-term relationship.
There’s no hard guideline on following up, just use common sense and pay close attention to social cues. Never flood a journalist’s inbox or continue hounding them if they decided not to use your release.
Cultivating a relationship is more important than the release itself.
One particular release may not have interested them, but the next might. Or they could consider you an expert source and reach out to you for future stories.
This won’t happen if you burn the bridge early on.
Now you understand how to distribute a press release for maximum exposure. But, if your sights are set bigger and you need help, consider hiring a press release service.
What sets eReleases apart from the crowd is that we help clients write sharp copy for their press releases. We offer a PR writing service for clients who don’t have the time or experience to craft their own.
eReleases can reach all major news outlets but we’re also experts at targeting specific industries, bloggers, and social media influencers. Our goal is to get your content to relevant, experienced journalists.
Are you ready to reach more than 100,000 journalists, freelance writers, and bloggers?
Start building your press release with us today!