And Something That Will…
At EMSI, we don’t use conventional press releases to secure media coverage for our clients and we haven’t for nearly 25 years.
I realized early on that they just weren’t effective at getting the quality and quantity of publicity we guarantee. So we tried to make it as easy as possible for journalists and talk show hosts to use our content and book our clients as guests. We began writing newsworthy articles in a ready-to-publish format and we crafted talk show segments that we “produced” on paper.
Back then, almost all public relations companies relied on press releases. Today, that’s changing. More marketers are realizing that the standard press release – basically, an announcement that the sender hopes will catch the interest of the media and inspire an article or interview request – just doesn’t work anymore.
- The traditional media all have websites – 24/7 news outlets that constantly require fresh, new, high-quality content to attract visitors. Online staff trying to “feed the beast” are far more likely to post a well-written, newsworthy article than an announcement about a company milestone, new product or change in personnel.
- Newspaper, magazine, TV and talk radio staffs have been dwindling for years. The number of newspaper journalists alone has dropped more than 30 percent since 2000, according to the Pew Research Center. Smaller staffs mean less time for turning conventional press releases into interesting articles and talk show segments.
- Before the Internet, we relied solely on traditional media to publish or broadcast the news. Conventional press releases were our private plea to them. Today, anyone can publish and broadcast via the web. While that doesn’t diminish the value of newspapers, TV and radio – they still have clout, credibility and large audiences – it does change how we communicate with them.
So, what can you do to get publicity for your new product or book, company milestone and recent award?
First, think about what would make that news item interesting to someone who’s never heard of you or your business.
- Does your new product address a problem that a lot of people share? Can you cite documented statistics or studies that reveal the breadth of the problem and/or its consequences? Can you share tips for dealing with the problem?
- If your company is celebrating a milestone, such as 50 years in business, can you offer insights into how your industry has changed in those five decades and what those changes have meant to consumers? Can you offer them a glimpse of what your industry may offer them in the future?
- If you’re celebrating an award, others will appreciate learning from your success. What steps did you take? What lessons did you learn?
Use those answers to write a short, objective news story – one that doesn’t include subjective adjectives, like “wonderful new product” or “innovative, ground-breaking company” – or to pitch publications and talk shows.
Work in advance – it’s better to send your pitch before your news is old news! But before you do, do your homework.
- Familiarize yourself with the publications or shows you’re pitching. Don’t waste your time by sending them a pitch on a topic they have no interest in.
- Search the publication or show’s website for deadline information and policies for submitting unsolicited material.
- Grab them with your email’s subject line. If it doesn’t catch their interest, or it looks like a sales pitch, they won’t open it. Keep your subject line limited to five to eight words or about 40 characters.
If you’ve been sending out press releases and getting no response, it’s time to try giving the media what they want: Valuable information shared in a way they can easily use. You’ll get publicity that showcases you as an authority in your field, and the implied endorsement of journalists and talk show hosts.
They may even appreciate your contributions so much they’ll come running back for more!
Remember — great P.R. doesn’t stand for “press release”!