PR can be a great way to promote and raise the profile of your business, but if you're not an expert it can be daunting even knowing where to start.
To help, here’s some expert tips on how to create and issue successful press releases from Chris Barry, PR Director at Influential.
Chris gives us his five top tips for creating and issuing successful press releases. Chris spent 20 years in journalism, including 12 years on the Manchester Evening News Business Desk and 7 years at TheBusinessDesk.com in Manchester.
The first question to ask is: ‘’What have I got to say and who do I want to say it to?’’. In other words, what’s your message and who is your audience? These two things are key in terms of setting your expectations and predicting the outcome.
Generally, media will like to hear about any key appointments, amazing innovations, record orders, contract wins and investments that have helped you grow.
In terms of audience – you should know who you’re targeting and why. National media titles are the hardest to reach, so you should always approach media relations with a healthy dose of realism!
Sector press tend to be easier to reach and will, to a degree, speak your language. Regional business media is also a good starting point too, though journalists will be receiving hundreds of emails every day, so you’ll need to make your message stand out.
It might sound simple, but be sure to think about the ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘who’, ‘where’ and ‘why’ in your press release so it’s clear to your audience exactly what you’re announcing.
Try to be authentic in your tone of voice and language. If you are an ambitious start-up – then celebrate it! A lot of companies start with a claim to be ‘leading’ – so much so that the word has almost lost its meaning, try to use language unique to what you have done.
You should also try to cut to the chase and avoid being overly technical and long-winded. If, for example your revenue has rocketed, or your business has won a grant award or investment– then the first paragraph of the release should say so.
When I was training to be a journalist I was taught that the first paragraph, or ‘intro’ should be no more than 22 words long. This is the place to sell your story in a punchy way, so try and bear this in mind.
Always include your contact details and embed a link to your website in the release. Make sure you’re available once it has been sent out, don’t send your release out just before going on holiday for a fortnight where you might be uncontactable.
Finally, be prepared to answer questions from journalists if you do manage to get them on the hook!
Using social media is an easy way to identify journalists covering certain topics. Rather than picking up the phone, or emailing them cold to introduce yourself, take some time to investigate which journalists you want to engage with via Twitter or LinkedIn.
In almost all cases journalists will welcome the interaction particularly if you Like, Share or Retweet one of their posts. If they follow you back on social media – it’s the perfect way to start engaging with them via Direct Messages.
Once you’ve done this, and you’re armed with your release, the next thing to think about is a picture. Here’s where it’ll be a bonus if you have a budding snapper in your team, because a colourful and creative image can really help your chances of success.
If at first you don’t succeed… hire a PR firm (well I would say that wouldn’t I?). Seriously, don’t give up if your release falls on deaf ears – try again with a different title or consider changing up your intro paragraph.
Alternatively if you’ve started to build a relationship with a journalist, then politely ask them for some feedback on why your release has not made the grade. It could just be bad luck, and a gentle nudge may just do the trick.
Most important of all is to not give up at the first hurdle – and if media don’t pick up your news – make sure you splash it loud and proud on your website and via your social media channels. LinkedIn is really great for this.
Use your own channels to maximise the impact – share on social media, ask your team, your work neighbours, suppliers and key contacts (Bruntwood SciTech, Alderley Park, Circle Square, Innovation Birmingham and Manchester Science Partnerships are always very keen to help).
Once you’ve discovered what works, it’ll be time to get your thinking caps on to come up with a new angle to create that drum-beat of news a successful brand or company needs. If resources allow, maybe you should think about setting a media strategy based around milestones in your year, e.g – a key trade show or conference where you know there will be activity and opportunity.