By Doreen Clark
Did you hear about what is going on at our company? We’d better get a release ready to go—maybe or maybe not. There are two reasons to write a press release. First, your organization may want a bump in search engine optimization (SEO). Second, your organization may want to gain the attention of the media in hopes of being mentioned in a third-party article. Though both reasons are relevant for the creation of a release, if the media’s attention is the desired goal, and not just SEO, it becomes imperative that the content reflects what they want to hear and see—not just what you want to share. Therefore, an organization must ask itself, “Is this newsworthy?” before delivering beyond the wire. The reason this is important is that if you send everything and anything to your pool of reporters every time something happens at your organization, they may begin to see it as crying wolf. If it’s not really news, your organization will quickly lose credibility—which is the fastest way to the spam bucket or the trash can.
With that being understood, here are three things to consider before sending your release to an editor:
1. What Is Newsworthy?
The reality is that most companies believe that everything that happens at their organization is a big deal. And it may be to the employees and to the C-suite. However, that doesn’t mean that it holds the same importance to those on the outside. If you are having a difficult time determining if an outside audience will want to hear your news, start by asking someone on the outside—he or she will be a good gauge, as he or she doesn’t have the same personal and emotional ties as those who are involved in the day-to-day happenings of the organization. With that being said, here are some things that may make a release newsworthy:
- A major development (M&A, new office, new product, new partnership)
- An upcoming event (webinar or speaking engagement)
- Published results (survey results, financial information)
- Publishing efforts (book, video series)
- Human interest (employee recognized for being with the company for 50 years)
If the main content of your news release has any of this information, a release should be forwarded to the appropriate media contacts.
2. What Does the Media Need?
The media is up to date on most things that happen within their industry’s beat that centers on major companies and breaking news, but they are not always in the know about the news of smaller companies. They do need your help when it comes to delivering the facts and putting them in touch with the appropriate thought leaders who can add relevant expertise. So, in addition to delivering the release, what do they need?
- Timely information.
- Supplemental information.
3. What Is Rule #1?
Let’s say that your release is newsworthy and you have given supplemental information. Is that enough to grab their attention? The simple answer is no. It is possible that your marketing team has overlooked the most important component of delivering the release to the media. What is that, you ask? You must be sure that the contact actually covers your news area or it will fall on deaf ears.
Don’t just find the outlet you want to send it to and then generically send an email without doing your research. Take the time to create a targeted media list of specific people who cover the area that your news is within. Don’t just assume that an editor will get it to the appropriate person. After all, the larger the outlet, the more editors there are. It is your job to do the work. Personalize your email to them, show that you saw a recent article that they wrote that aligns with your news. The days of mass emailing reporters is gone—at least if you want results.
Journalists care about the information that they are sent—even if they don’t use it. Why, you ask? Because there are countless inquiries, requests for interviews, and releases that they receive every day—from organizations just like yours. Though it is not realistic to believe that every email that a reporter receives from all companies will be relevant to his or her area of coverage, it is the organizations that understand the above considerations that will have the potential to gain a reporter’s trust, make their way into the reporter’s inner circle, and, at the very least, be appreciated for having done their homework, before hitting the Send button. If your goal is about more than SEO, understand the real value of your news, deliver additional content that will add substance to the reporter’s potential article, and truly understand the background of the person who will be on the receiving end—then, a win may be on the horizon for your release.