This is part two of a three part series on media relations.
Breathe: you can do this! The first step in preparing a press release doesn’t have anything to do with writing the release at all. You have to have a list of media to receive the list – and who are responsive to your message.
Many business owners trip over the distinction between what is “newsworthy” and what is “paid advertising”. The media press release that I’ve included here is borderline between news and advertising.
That’s okay. Just be cognizant of the fact that media outlets make a majority of their revenue through paid advertising. They’ll want to steer you toward paying for your news (though I believe that many news outlets don’t capture this market very well – here I am writing about ways they can increase their business. I’ve never once been advised of the cost of advertising any press release I’ve sent. But I digress).
So, once you’ve put together a list of qualified reporters, editors, and news-men and women, you’ll want to arrange them into categories where they cover, as well as organize them geographically. That way, if you have a press release to send out about a record number of kids who did a community service project in North Fort Myers Florida, you can get that information quickly into the hands of the Good News reporters in that geographical area.
You’ll want to consider building and segmenting your list in terms of news & trade journals and online magazines. Press releases are no longer the staple in what we think of in terms of “bread and butter” reporting. You will want to consider putting your press release on your website and social media outlets to maximize their impact and broaden the net.
Press Release Point of Contact
In any form of corporate or nonprofit communication, it is essential to have a point of contact established for the media. This is even more important when you are drafting press releases for crisis situations.
In public agencies, this person is called the public information officer. He or she is tasked with being the press release point of contact on all information distributed to the media. These trained professionals understand the importance of an apt word well-spoken, and typically avoid ever saying “no comment”. What’s important is to establish a unified front so that information is not leaked, corrupted, or misunderstood.
Remember what our city manager told us – information transmission serves little to no purpose until it is understood. One person clearly leading the communication press release as the point of contact improves the odds of the communication being understood.
How to Release a Press Release
A little redundant, yes. But how to release a press release focuses on the actual timing of when it should be sent. At Atilus, we send a press release for our clients after websites are launched. We add that press release to our blog because we understand the importance of building and nurturing an online community of information that points back to our clients. We want people to read our news. If they don’t get picked up on one of the big guys, at least our firm can serve as the beacon pointing out good news.
So, back to timing. You release the press release after you have compiled all relevant information. You never release before you know the truth, but you can release when you know only a part of the truth. Many experts will argue that in releasing a press release, you must be 100% truthful, telling the complete truth.
When you release a press release, you want to ensure that everything you say is TRUE. However, is it relevant to give details about something that would otherwise be unimportant, waste time, create unnecessary conflict, or damage someone’s reputation? It’s the same theory in interpersonal communication – would you tell your coworker that he or she smelled bad if the point of your interaction was to complete work on a client’s architectural drawings?
Maybe. But you wouldn’t be hired to serve in any marketing firm I know of.
Want more? Read our last installment here!