Effective News Releases: How To Get The Media’s AttentionPublished: July 18, 2013
Looking to get media attention at an event or for your business? Think before you pump out a press release!
Why? Any chance that it will be published is good exposure, right? No.
Sending out a release about something irrelevant wastes the media’s time. And they will remember that. So next time you send out an important release, it’s much more likely to get overlooked. Build a rapport with reporters and editors by sending content they want to see.
And besides, if by some chance your irrelevant release gets published, who is going to read it? So you hired a new intern, big deal. This will be glazed over by every reader of that publication. If no one is looking at your piece, what good was it, anyway?
There are 7 elements of newsworthiness that every journalist knows. These are the 7 keys to coverage.
So, here’s what the media are looking for in a story:
Is this an old story? Every media outlet is constantly struggling for a scoop. Throwing out a tired old idea isn’t going to help them look like they’re on top of their coverage. Plus, you’re competing with the constant roll of new information.
Find a “newness” element to add to your release. Create an event to promote what you’re doing, that way you have a time to attach to your information. Don’t just slap together an open house. Create something enticing that would attract the public, and the journalists will follow.
Does the story affect people in the media outlet’s area? Because if not, you need to choose the media nearby. If you can pull in a local angle to a larger story, you’re much more likely to get attention.
Think: How does the story affect people in the media’s coverage area? Is there anyone in the coverage area you could use as a case study or example?
People find conflict interesting. They watch and read about it. So journalists, seeking wider audiences, want to publish this sort of story.
Now, don’t go and start some sort of feud with a rival business for no reason. There’s too much potential for you to look like the bully and lose in that PR battle. But do you have a legitimate angle of tension?
If not, can you position yourself as an underdog against some greater force? It doesn’t have to be another person or organization. The economy, the government, human apathy and lots of other elements can make a great villain in your story. Find your company’s values and stand for them, against whatever obstacles you might have.
Is this story going to affect the media audience? Great. The more people it can affect, the better. Think in terms of what the impact will, or could be.
Think outside the box. Are there potential benefits people don’t usually consider? Are there small cases of negative impact you can make an example of? Is there a long-term implication?
One great way to maximize impact is to partner up with another organization. You don’t have to partner with a competitor just to get coverage, but consider whether you could bring someone else in who reaches a wider, or different audience.
Is your business well-known in the community? Do you have a shareholder or board member who is? Use that to your advantage. You can also align yourself with popular issues or causes. If you can link your name up to a brand, person or idea that’s trendy and well-known, you’ll be more newsworthy by association.
Make sure that you aren’t over-stretching the opportunity to capitalize here. Just because someone affiliated with your organization is popular doesn’t mean you can center an entire release around them if they aren’t the actual point. But feel free to quote and name-drop as needed.
This is another situation where partnerships can make a big difference. Pairing with a more well-known person or business can get you access to more media resources and to more by-association coverage.
Make sure to position yourself in a way that your own brand isn’t lost as a tag along, though. For example, providing a small sponsorship to a cause you’re affiliated with might not even get your name mentioned in the media coverage. Be creative, and never be afraid to create a situation that makes you more newsworthy.
People love people and their stories. The triumphant tales. The heartbreaking failures. They can relate to that. Play on people’s emotions. Humanize your content by telling your story through the lens of a real person, with real thoughts and feelings people can relate to.
The simplest form of human interest is a quote. If you’re sending a release, be sure to include at least one. and make sure it’s attributed to a particular person, not “a representative.”
Make every quote count. If you can take the phrase out of quotation marks, and it’s just a simple fact, it doesn’t deserve to be a quote. Express something uniquely human, like an emotion or opinion.
And when we say emotion, we mean real emotion: avoid empty and overused phrases. “We are so excited about…” means nothing at all. Of course you’re excited. If you can say “duh” about someone’s quote, try again. Give people something they couldn’t have guessed. Instead of saying “I am excited,” get someone to tell you why something matters on a personal level, and relate the topic to themselves personally.
Grab attention with something that really different. Don’t just send out a boring release about the same old event. If that’s what you’re doing, you need to send a simple media advisory, not a release. Come up with something new and intriguing.
Shock the audience if you can. Tell them something they won’t believe, or something they can’t believe you actually said. Get heads turning your way, and the media will pay attention.
Sometimes, getting media attention means changing your event or project or business. Create a reason for people to care if you don’t already have one. Public Relations and Marketing teams should be working hand-in-hand with management and decision makers to build interesting coverage opportunities, not simply blasting out information.
Obviously, these are general guidelines. Each story will need a different mix of newsworthy elements to make the media care.
Look for more help with the specifics of news release writing in our upcoming blog posts.
What are your media coverage tips and best practices?