OK– so maybe it’s more like the 1-2-3-4-5s of distributing a press release. For the novice business owner, or anyone who is just curious about what this whole press release business is, keep reading.
1) When should I distribute a press release?
Some people think that in order to keep in the public eye, they need to write a press release for every single thing that happens (or will happen) in the business. This just isn’t the case. Press releases should be reserved for actual newsworthy events including product launches, major hires, notable changes in service, events, or news related to other major milestones including holidays, etc. So, in other words, while it’s awesome that you just painted the exterior of your building, or you have a new receptionist, that’s not news. The thinking is that a journalist may get so tired of seeing release after release of information that has no newsworthiness to it all (relevance to her viewers or readers) that your releases may end up in the trash bin once it hits the inbox.
2) I actually have news to report. What now?
Journalists look for a few major things when considering a press release. So before you send one out ask yourself these questions:
a) Is it news? Is it something that would intrigue a viewer or reader? Or is this just something to satisfy your ego?
b) Are you giving the reporter enough time to consider doing a story? Print and broadcast journalists have different lead times and require shorter or longer periods of time when they consider a story idea.
c) Do you actually have time to respond to interview requests? All too often, businesses send out releases without carving time to respond to requests for interviews. This can seriously compromise your relationships with media, especially local.
3) Have an updated and accurate media list. When at all possible, send press releases individually to journalists who you feel would understand and respond to your story. This is particularly important for smaller businesses because you generally have just a few core regional journalists who you will most likely being working with over an extended period of time. Get to know what they write about, and how they like to receive releases (e-mail, fax, mail).
4) Decide how you would like to send out the release. Remember, the very act of sending out a press release indicates to a journalist that EVERYONE has seen this release– including the competition. That’s why you might opt to do a direct pitch to a journalist who you have a strong rapport with so they have some sense of exclusivity with you. For events, however, people expect that your goal is to get as many people as possible to attend, so press release are considered standard. Try sending out a bcc e-mail to your media list or for more major news, use an inexpensive press release distribution service like PRWeb.
5) Track your news. There is a tendency to just forget about a release that has already gone out. But I imagine that you’d like to know where it has been “picked up”. If you use a more sophisticated wire distribution service like PR Newswire, MediaWire or BusinessWire, they offer a free basic tracking service for your press release. It’s a report that essentially tells you where your release has been posted on various news sites. Also, don’t forget to set up a Google News search or a Yahoo! news search so you can receive daily reports whenever your business (or a competitor’s) is mentioned in the news.