Press Releases: 5 Basic, Can't-Miss Tips

Did you know that the first ‘official’ press release was written in 1906? Yep, it was written to prevent rumors after a train wreck killed 53 people. Then, it was Edward M. Bernays, considered the ‘father’ of public relations, who was considered to have popularized the use of releases around the 1920’s. Bottom line: This is an old approach. The concept of press releases is old. As of late, people have been discussing whether or not the press release is dead, as in this blog post by Arik Hanson. The general consensus is that NO, the press release isn’t dead. But, what certainly is dead are the days of weekly-releases-for-each-minor-announcement ‘to stay in front of the journalist’. This type of behavior is considered careless and can even serve as a detriment to your outreach efforts. Be purposeful with your press releases and ensure a focused approach by considering the following five items:

1. Is it a worthwhile subject?

The fact that you exist is not. Worthwhile subjects include major announcements such as significant management changes, openings, business acquisitions, disasters, etc. Keep in mind that in general, releases are used for reference – your release isn’t the story, but provides information from which a journalist can write their story. It should be written to the audience, not your CEO.

2. Can it contribute to your SEO efforts?

Likely the most valuable aspect of your release will be its searchability, ultimately, driving people to your site. Work at incorporating your key words without sounding clunky.

3. Have you considered how you’ll distribute your news?

Utilize technology and PR support services to increase your visibility. For small business, I recommend using pitchengine for posting and PRWeb for distribution.

4. How will you share your news with the media?

Remember, your pitch…connecting with the most appropriate journalists…is much more important than the release itself. Again, the journalist will use the release for reference, so the words you use in your email to the journalist can carry more weight than the release itself.

5. Is your press release truly a valuable resource?

Include the most relevant information at the top and go ‘backwards’ from there, incorporating more descriptive details further down in the release.

If at a minimum, you employ these five tips, you’ll be off to a good start with your releases. One last thing: Keep in mind that a press release is rarely your first line of defense. Often, getting your ‘story’ out there can be accomplished with an email or even a phone call.