For anyone writing news releases on a regular basis, here’s something that I found over at Joan Stewart’s Publicity Hound blog. Joan focuses primarily on helping small/micro businesses create PR campaigns. She’s also doing an “89 tips in 89 days” course on writing news releases. Check her out.
“Writing press releases isn’t easy. If you think I’m wrong, take this little quiz. Answer true or false to the following statements:
- I write press releases primarily to encourage journalists at newspapers and magazines to write articles about my company, or for broadcasters who will feature us on the news or invite us as guests on talk shows.
- I write press releases only when I have legitimate news that the media think will be worth covering.
- Because journalists are busy and don’t have time to read long press releases, my releases are always as short as possible.
- I try to include “who, what, when, where, why and how” high in the press release, preferably the first paragraph, so journalists don’t have to spend valuable time hunting for it.
- When I write a release and journalists never print it, or I get no calls for interviews, I chalk it up as a failure. Then I start all over again and find something better to write about so I can get the media coverage I need.
- I measure the success of my press releases by the number of clippings I have generated, or the number of TV and radio shows that have covered my organization.
Now, give yourself one point for every statement that you marked as true. Now tally up your points. If you scored 5 or higher, you’re writing press releases the old way—only for journalists—and you’re completely overlooking an audience that you should be targeting with your message: the end user who will find your press releases online, read them, and buy what you’re selling, even if journalists think your story isn’t worthy of their time and attention.
If your score is 1 to 4, you’re doing some things right but you’re still missing the chance to really make your press releases as effective as possible.
If you scored zero, congratulations! You understand why you are writing press releases. You’re writing them not only for journalists, but for people who are in a position to buy your products and services.
Twenty years ago, the old way worked just fine. Today, thanks to the Internet, everything we’ve learned about writing press releases has changed.”
Interesting stuff and some great food for thought.