I have a journalistic background and I use this to offer a press release writing service, with the aim of giving people the keys to the kingdom of the media. My background in journalism and my experience with businesses has given me some perspective on what gets you results in the media.
Journalists have a love hate relationship with press releases. They know they need them to fill those white spaces, but they wish they didn’t need them. They do like press releases about new books, especially if you give them a review copy. But they view most business press releases with disdain, seeing them as little more than a plug.
I wrote two press releases this week. The business owners I wrote for were fairly typical of people who want press releases; they liked the idea of being featured in the media and they wanted immediate results. But to achieve that, they needed to figure out what their story was.
Types of Press Release
Three types of press releases attract journalists’ attention. Ones with a solid, current story, like a new business opening, an award win or a new range of products. The press release for Lucy Nagle Handbags fit that category. It’s a new business, with a pop up shop opening in December.
The second type ties into a topic that’s trending in the media. Funky Goddess’s products tie well into the parenting slots and supplements that appear every day in the media. I slipped in a tweet to a national radio show where the presenter was talking to a child psychologist about a girl who was entering puberty earlier. A product that celebrate periods is bound to cause a bit of controversy – and that’s exactly what happened.
And the third press release type, possibly the most successful of all in our visual age, is the picture press release, where you just send in pictures with catchy captions. Both businesses had great scope for this. The pictures tell a more powerful story about their products than words ever could. Pictures are handy for journalists, because they fill stubborn corners of white space left over after articles and ads have been slotted in.
Creating a press release is a partnership process. For both businesses, I asked the owners questions to help me pinpoint the news angle. These questions aren’t meant to be homework, but if you show your enthusiasm for your business, it’ll be a lot easier to create a memorable press release. I also asked the owners to check the releases when they were done, to ensure that they tied in with the message they wanted to put across.
As for getting results, the media isn’t the silver bullet that people think it is. You need to cultivate relationships with journalists just as you would your customers. And social media is proving to be a brilliant way to do that. Not only are journalists on social media, but they are actively using it to find stories.
Samantha Kelly of Funky Goddess is a Twitter whizz (@funkygoddessirl) and she’s keen to make an impact in the UK. I sent her a list of 10 UK journalists to follow on Twitter. This will let her bypass the wall of gatekeepers that surround journalists and communicate with them directly. It’s still not a guarantee of immediate results, but you’ll get results a lot faster than trying to approach them the traditional way.