PR consultant Kittima Sethi explains how to craft a message that works.
BACK in March, I wrote about maximizing media coverage. I provided some examples of how companies can develop various story angles of their products or services to garner interests of the reporters and have their stories appear in media.
This month, I am going to share with you the benefits of a press release, an essential element in every company’s public relations strategy.
If you think press releases are an old-fashioned and obsolete way to send news, you are mistaken. While in the past, press releases were sent to specific media and usually as hard copies, today, thanks to the internet, the outreach incudes worldwide media outlets, individual reporters and editors, search engines, websites and online press release distribution and syndication services.
A press release is an inexpensive way to get visibility and capture media attention. It is an opportunity for companies to share news about their products or services to their customers, employees, investors, competitors and interested stakeholders. It also keeps the industry they are in informed of any recent developments.
If you are wondering why certain products or services are regularly being featured in the media, it is probably due to the constant stream of press releases being sent to media. However, keep in mind that content is also the key element to having news published. Press releases must contain content that is newsworthy, factual, timely and relevant. It must capture the editor’s attention and stir his or her interest to cover the subject further.
Crafting a press release with a catchy and compelling headline followed by informative content increases the probability of securing coverage. Remember to also make the content concise and to the point. We recently assisted an international school, following the Singapore national curriculum, in launching their new campus in Bangkok. Press releases were sent to various local and international media based in Bangkok. The press release captured the interest of a renowned Singapore-based news channel which sent their reporter to cover the campus. Similarly, a financial publication based in Hong Kong came across a press release we issued about a Thai private hospital’s investment in a US healthcare information system. The publication was working on a story about this hospital’s plan to list in the stock exchange. Although the press release did not mention news about the hospital’s listing, it provided an update on the hospital’s development.
Below are some of the benefits of press releases:
1. Press releases create credibility for your products or services. By regularly developing newsworthy content and distributing it to your targeted audience, you can achieve your goal in creating confidence in your audience as well as increasing recognition of your product or service. You have probably heard of the phrase “out of sight, out of mind.” To survive in today’s ever-changing marketplace, you need to continuously provide updated and relevant news about your product or services and to educate the public about what you do. Notice how IT and FMCG companies are regularly featured in the news. They are either announcing launches of new products, additional features, new packaging or looks, new presenters, sales promotions, or even CSR activities they have been involved in.
2. Press releases reach a global audience. As mentioned earlier, a lot of publications republish press releases from online press syndication. This widens the distribution network and increases the chances that your news will be seen by more people. Remember to include links to your websites so readers and reporters can learn more about your company. Make your press releases Search Engine Optimization (SEO)-friendly by using keywords and other techniques to attract major search engines like Google or Yahoo.
3. Regular press releases establish you as an expert in your field. For instance, if you are in the education industry and are constantly sending news on issues and trends in education and learning, it is more likely that a reporter will contact you if they need a comment on an education-related story they are writing about. You could eventually become the media’s “go-to source” and this is a great way for people to notice you and your company. The more people read about you, the more trust you build.
Once you have created a press release, the next step is to pitch to the media. As I mentioned in my earlier published articles, research, get to know and call the reporters and editors that cover your industry. Find a creative way to convey your product or service. Visiting the media increases your chances of coverage as you get to meet the reporters face-to-face and pitch your story. Remember your goal is to maximize the coverage of your product or service.
Do not limit the content of the press releases to just making announcements of your products or services. It could include news about your company’s CSR programme, a survey or statistical report your company has compiled, news about awards received, testimonials from clients, a talk or seminar you are hosting, making a statement or comment about current news related to your industry, financial results, new executives and other accomplishments.
The list is endless and the key is to be creative and tie its relevance to current news or trends. If your content is interesting and informative, your press releases will most likely be followed by people in other industries.
Keep in mind that sending just one press release is not going to create an instant publicity blitz. The best way to get noticed is to create regular well-written press releases, use an effective distribution service and incorporate all of the tips provided above.
Kittima Sethi is a PR consultant at Brand Now. If you are looking to develop consistent press releases and distribute them to your targeted media and audience, she may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org