As a PR pro, there may be pressure to write press releases every time your client does something. However, what your client thinks is newsworthy may not actually be newsworthy at all.
Here are 5 questions you should ask before writing a press release:
1. Is it timely?
The news must be new.
If it is a review of an event your client had a week ago, it is not news unless some new development (such as Pepsi execs seeing the event and wanting your client to do commercials for them) has occurred.
2. Is it unique?
The news must be different and unique.
The paper has no reason to run your press release if it is about your client’s newest laptop. Lots of companies have new laptops. However, if your new laptop is going to be the first ever, or the smallest ever, or some crazy PR event is going to occur to make people stop and pay attention (for example, having a celebrity running around Times Square giving out your client’s laptops for free) then it can be news.
3. Is it specific?
Journalists are very busy people. Your press release must be focused on one thing so that the journalist does not have to dig through it to find the story.
For example, if you write a press release about your client’s newest research, but you bog it down with old research and new hires and interesting tidbits about other products coming soon, the journalist may lose interest in pulling out the gem of a story. If you have more than one story to tell, write more than one press release and send them each to the most appropriate medium.
4. What medium is the best channel for this announcement?
Different news works best in different channels.
If your press release is a review of your client’s concert, it would probably have more success with bloggers. If your release is about hard news, such as your client’s researchers discovering the cure for cancer, you would aim the release to traditional media such as radio, broadcast and print. Some releases are better suited for print, some for radio, and some for broadcast. Releases with the opportunity to be very visually compelling work great for broadcast and print.
Do you have any advice on discovering which medium is best for which kinds of announcements?
5. Who cares?
This is the most important question of all. Who cares? Why in the world should anyone care about this information you are sharing?
If you struggle to answer this question, then the journalist will also struggle to see why they should share your release, since it is not news if no one would care about it.
If you need help with this, try telling a friend the news you want to put in the press release. How would you tell them this story in a way that would engage them? This exercise can lead to clues as to what is the most important part of the story. A story without an important part is simply not news!