If you are reading this line, then this article is probably meant for you. The headline is plain, unassuming, and does not oversell anything.
That is the gist of what a good press release should be, even if you are announcing something that may change the world. Say, a Covid-19 vaccine that works. But if that’s the case, then you probably do not need a release or making phone calls. Reporters will flock to you and your phone will be ringing non-stop (OK, that’s a figure of speech: your mobile device’s screen may lit up every nanosecond, or it may vibrate, or you may get a WhatsApp avalanche).
Let’s move on to the tips.
1. Who cares?
That does not sound terribly nice. It is not. Yet the answer to this will decide your chances of success. You are talking to reporters who are stressed out most of the time, always in a hurry and, most of the time, running after things that matter more to them or the newspaper or media outlet they work for. Try to place yourself in the shoes of a third-party reader. Would they care? In doubt, ask the honest opinion of a friend or acquaintance. Even better, if you have a reporter friend, ask them.
2. What is new?
Get straight to the point. No roundabouts or puns. If you are trying to be witty, do it with class and be sure to make it fun without being offensive. Otherwise, it will fall flat, or worse. If you are releasing the first flying hoverboard since Back to the Future, that’s your headline and lede.
3. Pick your target
This tip gets overlooked. We may have a tendency to overrate the importance of what we are announcing. We may even think it is worth the front page of a major newspaper. Reality is harsher. Your press release probably is not front page material. Yet if you are realistic, your chances may improve significantly. Start by picking the reporters and news outlets carefully. With the proliferation of news sites, virtually every industry is now covered. Yes, most are niche publications, but these are the ones that are going to help you. The reason is simple: they will listen to what you have to say. Are you in the FinTech industry? There are myriad specialized publications, news sites and blogs that may be receptive. You can still go for the big names, but improve your chances by defining your target first. This applies to whatever your industry is, whether it is cloud services, consumer electronics, or any technology that’s worth something and may interest someone else.
This obviously also applies to reporters known to cover your market.
4. Write a compelling headline
Put what’s new and interesting there. If it isn’t there, reporters won’t get past it as they scan the hundreds of messages in their inbox.
5. Be concise
Use short sentences and simple words. Avoid jargon, even if your news release is meant for a specialized publication. Readers appreciate clear language.
6. Be honest
Do not oversell what you are announcing. Make it as closely resembling a news story as possible, rather than an ad. If you are not number 1, don’t do publicity for your rivals but don’t muddle facts or make hollow claims either. A good reporter who may be interested in your release will appreciate it. And you will spare them editing work and save them precious time.
7. Send it early in the morning
Making your story available in the lazy hours or more likely minutes before work begins to heat up may improve your chances of capturing the reporter’s attention.
8. Follow up and don’t give up
Journalists may not always be approachable and they may be naturally reluctant to consider your request for publication, especially if this is the first time they hear about you. If you have not heard from them, follow up by email. If they still turn you down, ask the reason and ask them for tips: what is the reporter or the newspaper looking for? What would improve the chances of publication? Instead of being discouraged, use this opportunity to build up a relationship and eventually a network.
9. Trust professionals
Verb Company has been offering its newsroom services since 2015. Our writers and correspondents are veterans of the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, CNN and other major newspapers and media outlets. We follow the time-tested, exacting news writing standards of the largest newspapers in the world.