We’ve learned how to plan and write a press release for reputation management. Now it’s time to find out how to share it. In the final installment of our press release series, we find out how experts recommend you perform outreach for important press releases.
Sharing a press release isn’t as simple as just getting it written and throwing it up on your company blog. Even dropping it on the news wire isn’t going to cut it. To really get the attention your press release deserves, you’ll have to contact reporters strategically, maintain good relationships with them, consider industry trends, make your release user friendly, and more.
Identify Your Target
Writers and editors receive an endless number of story pitches every day, and it can be tedious to wade through pitches that aren’t relevant. You can help writers trust you as a helpful source by only sending pitches that you know they’ll be interested in.
“This may seem like a no brainer, but it’s essential that you don’t flood a writer’s inbox with pitches they’d never cover in a million years,” says The Abbi Agency‘s David Campos.
“Don’t spam reporters,” says HireTeamMate cofounder and CMO Ninh Tran.
To make sure you’re pitching publications that align with your topic and demographics, Campos recommends requesting a media kit and then identifying writers within that publication who would be interested in your message. He also encourages marketers to examine what writers are covering in publications and social media.
“Overlooking these questions could leave your pitch to fall in the hands of someone who just doesn’t care,” warns Campos.
Is having your pitch ignored by irrelevant writers a bad thing? Not necessarily, assuming you can find others who are interested. But it takes time and effort to reach out to publications, so by identifying your target, you can better focus your resources on publications that are likely to share your message.
Other experts agree. “Don’t broadcast a news release to every possible outlet that might be covering your industry,” recommends Marketing/PR Savvy‘s Ford Kanzler. “This is sloppy media relations, epidemic in practice, and exacerbates media pros’ perceptions that PR people are stupid and/or lazy.”
Instead, Kanzler says PR people should know which media will be interested in your news and establish a clear target list of key people you wish to connect with. However, he warns that one person per media outlet is enough, not everyone who may write for the outlet.
Eric Serdar with Big Leap recommends sending your press release to key reporters first — and making it personal.
“Target your key reporters first and send a personalized email to them,” encourages Serdar. “Don’t send a generic email that they know is going to every one of their competitors. A personalized email that references a previous work that ties in or a personal item can go a long way.”
Maintain a Good Relationship with Reporters
Reporters are the people who will get your story heard. Make it easy to work together, and they’ll be more interested in what you have to say. But if you’re rude or unprofessional, your pitches may fall on deaf ears.
Tran encourages marketers to build relationships with reporters. He says it’s smart to work closely with reporters that cover the stories you love to write about.
Ashley Orndorff, market research analyst and copywriter with Visual Impact Group agrees that it’s important to build relationships with local reporters and bloggers. She says you can leverage them to help promote your release and boost your message.
Another big tip for working on reporter relationships: always follow up. Make sure they’ve gotten the information they need from you and ask if there’s anything you can do to help.
Use a Wire Service
After you’ve covered the publications that are the most important, you can help improve the odds by using a wire service. This service will cast a wider net and reach beyond the network you may have already established.
“A well written press release may still not get picked up by the top tier reporters you were shooting for,” says Serdar. “However, you can still use a wire service to get it syndicated across hundreds or thousands of websites. Reporters still look at what comes through the wire service.”
Not familiar with wire services? Naresh Vissa, founder and CEO of Krish Media & Marketing recommends using Fiverr or Upwork to get help. He suggests simply searching for news wire or PR news wire, then finding someone with five star reviews to submit your press release.
For the best exposure, Vissa encourages marketers to use news wire services, as they’ll have the best connection to Google. “They do a good job of getting your press release on Google News, leading to the release rising to the top of Google search. They also distribute your release to leading publications like the Miami Herald, Boston Globe, and Digital Journal.”
News wire services should of course only be used in supplement to direct contacts, though. “Don’t rely solely on press release distribution services to get the attention of media,” says Trent & Company‘s Katherine Espinosa. “Create a targeted media list, develop a thoughtful pitch, and begin outreach!”
Be Direct About Your Angle
As we’ve learned before, publications just want you to get to the point. Tell them what your pitch is about and don’t waste time with introductions that aren’t helpful or interesting.
“Don’t beat around the bush with lengthy self-promotional introductions about the company,” warns Campos.
Instead, Campos recommends that marketers craft an angle that directly identifies why something is newsworthy. What is the brand’s differentiating factor? Does it provide a desirable service or expertise that others don’t?
Follow and Highlight Industry Trends
Even in digital media, there are limits to what a publication can publish in a certain time period. That means if your press release is up against another big story, yours may not get chosen, or you may have lesser placement. Stay on top of trends and topics that might compete for attention and time your release accordingly.
Campos encourages marketers to be timely and conscious of other newsworthy topics that could hinder your placement’s success. He says this is especially important when pitching to local media, where other events and stories will take precedence over your pitch.
When timing your pitch, Campos says you have two options: make your pitch just as newsworthy or hold off until reporters aren’t as overwhelmed.
Kanzler encourages marketers to avoid times of the year when reporters may be weary of the flood of press releases that accompany major industry events like trade shows.
“Don’t put your news out at a big trade show where every other company in your market is blowing out tons of announcements,” says Kanzler. “If you have news pegged to a show, do it in advance of the event. If its not associated with the show, wait until the news release storm blows over and put it out a week or two later.”
When pitching to larger publications, Campos encourages marketers to request a media kit. The kit will give you an editorial calendar that can be used to identify the publication’s upcoming topics and determine where and when your story fits, if at all.
Be Ready to Follow Up
Once you’ve sent out your press release, your work isn’t done. It’s a good idea to check in with key reporters and publications after delivering the release to make sure they’ve gotten it and potentially bring your story back from the dead if it was ignored initially. You should also be ready to field questions and find answers.
“Have contact info on the release,” recommends Kanzler. “And be sure the contact is around to receive media inquiries. That also goes for the CEO or VP who is quoted in the announcement.”
Make Your Press Release User Friendly and Easy to Share
When your press release is competing against a never ending tide of other news, it’s essential that you make your press release easy to read and share. Otherwise, reporters may move on to easier targets, leaving your news to languish in their inbox.
Press releases should be clear and to the point, and so should your pitch email. Don’t waste time with long introductions. Just explain why the recipient should be interested in reading and sharing your press release and then give them the goods.
Your method of delivery for press releases matters as well. Snackbox principal Jenna Oltersdorf recommends never sending press releases as an attachment. Instead, you should copy and paste the release directly into the body of your email when you send it. That way, reporters don’t have to take the extra step of downloading your press release, possibly running into errors. It’s just right there for them to read, no more effort necessary.
Your press release should also be easy to share, says Sally Albright with Druid City Media.
“It goes without saying that your release should be formatted to share directly to all major and useful social media platforms,” says Albright. “Posts should be prepopulated with your best copy and images and correctly formatted for the specific platform. Several sites will do this for you, and there are plenty of tutorials. Figure it out, because this is critical.”
The bottom line on press release promotion: make it easy for reporters to discover, read, and share your press release. It could make the difference between a story that takes off and one that rots away in email and news wire jail.