How To Choose A Topic For A Press Release?
A press release is a tried and tested tool for garnering publicity and the dawn of digital has made them more accessible for companies at the smaller end of the scale. However, this trend has only added to the sheer number of releases inundating the inboxes of journalists on a daily basis.
So given the stiff competition, how can you pick a topic that will enhance your chances of getting your press release seen by the right people?
A press release is often a collaborative effort by necessity, but this can often have the adverse effect of leading to a by-the-numbers approach to its creation.
If you don’t have the in-house expertise to create a release, it might be a good idea to outsource the task.
However, even if you don’t have the budget for this – try to ensure the team working on your release is as concise as possible.
Apple is arguably a great example of the triumphs that are possible when companies abandon a design-by-committee approach and let a single individual take charge.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t engage in some quality control over the piece and approve it before it goes out, but all too often, the quality of releases is harmed when they try to say too much or be overly promotional.
Of course you’ll want to shout about your company, product and service(s) but you should avoid doing this at the cost of newsworthiness.
Make sure you include the newsworthy elements as high up the piece as possible – there’ll be plenty of room to plug your businesses in the lower paragraphs and ‘notes for editors’ section.
To avoid bland corporate-speak; one good exercise is to find an original press release and compare it to the press coverage. Take a look at what elements are retained and which are jettisoned.
• Hot Topic
The topic you decide to write a release about will be largely – but not entirely – dictated by your product, service and sector. Before you get started, you’ll want to sit down and hash out a plan of attack.
At this stage, it’s a good idea to pick the audience and publication you’ll be targeting and then basing your ideas for a topic around these factors.
Deciding what you want to cover is probably the hardest decision in the process, but don’t get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choice facing you.
Instead of staring at a blank page, starts composing your thoughts – even if these are ideas you know will be discarded.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison
• The difference between news and newsworthy
Broadly speaking, you’re likely to be covering one of three areas in your press release.
– Company Growth: Milestones like employing X amount of people, opening a new office, charity or community work.
– Promotions: Sales, internet or social media-driven initiatives, competitions and the like.
– Research and thought leadership: White papers, infographics, case studies and surveys.
All of these areas can be newsworthy if handled right, but can also be indescribably dull if approached in the wrong way.
What might be big news within your company is unlikely to impress the average man on the street.
However, there’s always an exception to the rule.
For instance, new hires and growth could appeal to local publications (providing the staff is taken on from the local area or the businesses is benefitting the local economy).
Similarly, sales and competitions run in interesting ways can be newsworthy, while simply offering X per cent off in January is unlikely to tickle the fancy of many.
If you’re aiming for niche publications, you’ve got a bit of leeway when it comes to picking a research or thought leadership topic, but if you’re targeting the big time – you’ll want to produce something that’s interesting and relevant in spheres beyond your specific sector.
There’s no way to guarantee you’ll get your press release in front of the right pair of eyeballs, but by following the above tips and above all, keeping the interest factor firmly at the front of your mind – you’ll be able to craft a release that stands out from the crowd.
What About You?
How do you handle your press releases? Do you use an online newsroom? I’d love to read your ideas in the comments below.
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About the Author
This article was brought to you by Gerald Heneghan on behalf of PR Fire a leading online public relations and marketing service that aims to help companies connect with both consumers and the media.