Press releases: They’re a public relations staple (and probably the one thing the masses understand about what PR professionals do). Regardless of the brand or the campaign, there’s a good chance that issuing a press release to target media is one of the tactics to support the overarching strategy. It’s the go-to for communicating a timely initiative, but as the industry changes with each passing day – as it becomes more multi-channel, more social and more time sensitive – one can’t help but wonder if we’re holding on to a medium that represents the way things were rather than how they are or eventually will become.
This topic isn’t a new one, but I’m exploring it because it has been a particularly hot issue of recent debate. Personally, I don’t think my good friend, the release, has kicked the bucket. Now more than ever, practitioners and their clients rely on press releases to spread the latest word both quickly and concisely. It’s the easiest way to convey vital information, and as newsrooms continue to shrink, more journalists rely on receiving facts and new story ideas in one neat package.
That said, it’s the format that might have one foot in the grave (and the other on a banana peel).
There’s no question that the press release is evolving, and if yours isn’t, you should be thinking about why that is. In the meantime, here are three easy changes you can make to propel your press releases into the 21st century.
Integrate headings and lists
Time is of the essence for busy journalists working on tight deadlines, so whatever you’re sending their way needs to be as easily digestible as possible. Something as simple as changing the layout of your release can make it a more inviting read, and the benefit is that it doesn’t require a complete content overhaul.
Whenever possible (and whenever it makes sense), use headings within the release to declare areas of focus, to identify questions that will be answered and to demonstrate why this is relevant to the target audience. Also, use bulleted or numbered lists to set important points apart from the rest of the text, allowing for the absorption of essential information at a glance.
Make it social
Social media isn’t something brands can opt out of anymore, so it’s important to be an active player as often as possible. One of the simplest ways to do this is by socializing your press release.
In some cases this might entail a full restructuring to incorporate links to related content, sites featuring relevant coverage, and icons that direct readers to the company’s social channels. However, it can also be as easy as writing short, shareable headlines, using key words or phrases for maximized SEO, or including videos, photos, and audio files in your distribution.
Don’t write one just to write one
Some people feel that every announcement warrants a formal press release, but it’s worth thinking twice about whether or not it’s the best medium to communicate your message. Depending on the topic, it might be just as impactful to reach out to your media contacts with a short pitch, or to design and circulate an infographic that provides a quick visual representation of your story’s central facts.
Photo by gelle.dk/Flickr