How to write a press release, pitch it and follow up
DUO recently attended a webinar hosted by Leigh Andrews, editor-in-chief of BizCommunity’s Marketing and Media. The webinar was aimed at mastering the art of writing press releases and provided helpful tips and insights.
Andrews said that 2018 needs to be the year of working smarter, not harder, to stay afloat. Considering that 2017 failed to cast the PR industry in a positive light after a few scandals, coupled with the reality that journalists are inundated with hundreds of messages everyday, and a rapidly declining consumer attention span, her comments set the tone for an informative session.
Constructing the perfect press release
Little has changed when it comes to structuring the perfect press release – start with the five w’s (what, where, when, who, why), a h (how) and don’t forget to include the boilerplate at the end.
However, remember when writing a release to keep it short and sweet (KISS). With short attention spans for journalists and readers alike, keeping a release to approximately 500 words should help. For the most part, if the aim of the release is to promote your clients’ products, a press office might be a good choice, unless it is truly innovative and/ or a first of its kind.
As the year to be working smarter and not harder, be sure to include all the relevant social media handles and hashtags relevant to the story and/or client – even if you are sending it to print media. The majority of print media have established digital platforms that can be used to further promote your press release and acquire wider coverage.
Incorporate the relevant contact information (yours and your client’s) to avoid lengthy email threads and potentially secure coverage.
Pitching to the media
Before you pitch a story or angle, ask yourself if you would be interested in what you have composed. If the answer is no – go back to the drawing board.
It is important for your pitch to be transparent and your intentions authentic – you do not want your reputation to be tarnished.
More critical than the pitch, is clarity on who the media are in your industry, what their focus is and who their target audience is. Having this in-depth knowledge of the media in your industry, means you are able to save time and energy creating value for your clients.
Your pitch starts with the subject line of your email – it needs to be as alluring as possible, without being misleading. You want to stand out from other mundane, repetitive press release subject lines.
Following up successfully
Following up with media for desired coverage is frequently required but not always gratifying. When following up after you have sent a release, it is important to allow for enough lead time for the person to read your email before giving them a call or sending an email.
According to Andrews, 24 hours after sending the original email is sufficient time to send a follow up. However, when it comes to urgent time-based news, that is a different story altogether.
In summary, it is important to realise that simple mistakes can affect your desired press coverage a lot more than you may have initially thought.