Friday, March 8, 2013

Is Your News Release Really News?

Press release and PRClients often call me to write a news release for them but quite often, I'm left asking, "What exactly is your news?" All too often, business owners or managers believe that what is news to them or important to them carries equal weight with the reporters and editors who will be receiving the press release release, or with the public that will end up reading it.

Sorry guys, not so much. However, there are ways to make your non-news become somewhat publicity-worthy and earn you some free publicity.
  1. Try to zero in on a trend that will catch the attention of the media and your intended audience and develop a story around that, one in which you can slide in your announcement. For example, hiring a new employee is not of vast interest to anyone outside of your office; but hiring someone because it reflects growth in your sector or industry, or signals growing strength in the local job market, could be newsworthy.
  2.  Tie your news announcement into current events to create greater relevance. I once had to write a press release about an area private school that had a "sister school" relationship with one in Japan. This was around the time of the terrible tsunami that hit Japan two years ago. The school was initiating some type of support project for its sister school overseas. OK, that's pretty good. But I had read a story  in our local daily newspaper a week before about a public school in the county that had some kind of program with another school in Japan. Voila! There was the tie-in. I wrote and submitted the press release, with a note about how this story dovetailed nicely with the newspaper's recent coverage. A reporter called my client to find out more about the program and ran a story in the local section about it.
  3. Alert your media targets to an emerging trend or breaking industry news that relates directly to your organization or business. The fact that you opened a real estate staging practice is no big deal to most people beyond your family and friends; however, you can position yourself as an expert real estate stager and inform the media (and thereby, inform your audience) of a study that shows how well-staged homes sell faster, even in a tough real estate market.
  4. Offer a free seminar or workshop that is open to the public or that caters to specific market. Free works nicely and is seen favorably as something of a public service. (Hint: a newspaper is also less likely to expect a paid ad for a free program.)  Educational, informational, and helpful programs are also great ways to get exposure for you and your business. You'll want to send a short news release about your upcoming event to the local press or to the appropriate trade publications and post it to your social networks.
  5. Perform community service or create a charity drive in your office and invite the public to participate. The fact that your office is doing a coat drive in the winter is your business but opening up to area residents as they are preparing to shop for winter clothing is classic public relations.
Do you have favorite tactics for turning a ho-hum news story into something worthy of a true press release? Share them here!  Corporate public relations services