While public relations has been officially considered as a profession only since the latter half of the 20th Century, the activity has been in existence for ages – dating back to the ancient times. Since then, public relations has evolved, thanks to the variety of channels which can be used to capture the attention of the public.
A major element in public relations is the press release. As the name suggests, press releases are meant to make an announcement to the media. Press releases can focus on various subjects.
- The launch of a new product or service
- A new merger or partnership
- A significant acquisition of a new member of a company
- An announcement for an event
Press releases: the why and how
The ultimate purpose of a press release is to get your message to the public. However, a press release cannot, in itself, really reach an audience en masse – hundreds, thousands, or even millions.
This is where middlemen come into the picture. They are an essential part of your public relations strategy. At the core, these intermediaries are the ones you target to pick up your press releases, and they are then the ones who spread the news to the general public.
Who are these intermediaries?
Individual journalists, both offline and online, are the ones you want to reach with your press releases. You might be thinking, “Why not simply publish a press release on our blog or pay for an ad slot?”
The answer to this is simple: your blog will not have the same reach as respected journalists, and people do get what is called “ad blindness”. When you go this route, the chances are that your press release will be practically ignored.
If you craft excellent press releases, with content that is relevant to targeted journalists, they can run your story on different venues: newspapers, TV news, or radio shows, depending on what area they work. In essence, the journalists endorse your press release to their audience, perhaps on a more personal level. This also means that, through these journalists, your message reaches far and wide – more than your blog or ads can give you.
How do you get the attention of journalists, though? With countless press releases being published daily, how can your piece stand a chance?
The answer: use press release distribution channels. These pros will help you find your target people in media and make sure you get optimal results. With their database of different contacts in the media in different regions, they give you the advantage of being noticed more.
Writing an effective press release
Even if you use the best press distribution channels, you can’t take full advantage of press releases unless your document is properly written. A poorly crafted press release will probably be tossed by its recipients.
Here are some tips to write an effective, eye-catching press release:
- Write a compelling title. This may be the deciding factor on whether the recipient continues to read your press release or throw it away.
- Write a short summary. Let the reader know what’s in it for them. What can they expect from the press release? Keep it really short.
- Emphasize your key message in the body. Make sure the press release revolves around this message. Use quotes from a significant person in your company. Incorporate details about the event/product launch, and include statistics to back up your message. Cut out unnecessary information, and always keep your main message in mind.
- End with your company information. You want journalists to know who you are and what you do. Give them some insight such as when the company was founded, your mission statement, and so on. You can also include your website and social media profiles for more information. Again, keep this as brief as possible.
Press releases are an effective way to send out a specific message. To take full advantage of them, however, it is important that you know whom to reach to – people who can add credibility and spread your message to the masses.