Here are six tips associations can use when writing and sending out press releases.
Every day, associations are launching new initiatives or programs to serve their members and bolster their industries. Just this month, Associations Now covered the American Bar Association’s new services for homeless youth and the debut of the American Institute of CPAs’ online game to help millennials become financially literate.
Like other media outlets, Associations Now finds out about some of these initiatives through well-written and well-timed press releases. And since “earned” media coverage is still the best kind of coverage—even with native advertising on the rise—I chatted with Laura Kane, chief communications officer at the Public Relations Society of America, about six tips associations can use to ensure their press releases get media traction.
Keep it short and pointed. “Press release titles should be relatively short,” Kane said. After all, a one-line title enables a reader to grasp the gist of the release. “It should be something that talks about the benefit to the reader as opposed to the benefit to the association,” Kane said. She also added that the entire press release should be written with the reader—a journalist—in mind.
Create targeted media lists. “The key to media relations is really building relationships with reporters,” Kane said. You can build those relationships by reading journalists’ work, knowing their beats, or interacting on social media or in-person. Those relationships will then help you to curate your media lists, so you’ll ensure that you’re being strategic about where you’re sending your news releases. Also, make sure to update your list as journalists switch beats or change jobs.
Make it personal. You’ll have a higher success rate of getting coverage if you personalize your press release. For instance, Kane suggested that PR staff familiarize themselves with a reporter’s work and write a personalized note in the body of an email, writing something to the extent of: “Hey, I know you’ve written about this in the past. Here are some new findings that you might find interesting.”
Consider a wire service. Subscribing to a wire service extends a press release’s reach. “The advantage that a wire service presents is that you get a much broader base … that you probably couldn’t get to just through targeting alone,” Kane said.
Release at an odd time. “A lot of press releases will hit the reporter’s inbox or the wire service on the hour or on the half hour, but if you schedule it at three minutes after the hour, seven minutes after the hour, 13 minutes after the hour, some unusual time, you’ll stand out from the pack,” she said. Kane also recommended sending out your biggest news on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays, since Mondays and Fridays tend to be slower news days.
Keep in mind it’s just one tool. “A press release is just one tool within your content strategy,” Kane said. Typically, she said that an association should announce a new program or event to its members first, then send a press release, then take any media coverage it receives and leverage that in social media, and, as a final step, perhaps turn that press into an e-newsletter that gets sent to members. “There’s not one tool that’s going to be a magic bullet,” Kane said. “There’s not one tool that’s going to do it all for you. It’s about creating the right collection of tools.”
What are your must-dos when it comes to writing press releases? Please leave your comments below.