Press releases are undoubtedly one of the most effective ways to build links and market content. So why is that despite spending hours putting together your story, the reach is limited to perhaps a single copy and paste on a blog no one’s ever heard of? At Inbound we’ve had our stories featured on Bloomberg, ITV, New York Times, Financial Times and a range of other outlets big and small, and in my past 2 years of frequent PR distribution these are hands down the 5 leading issues experienced.
1. You haven’t answered “why should I care?”
When you decide on your angle, put yourself in the journalist’s shoes and ask yourself honestly “why should I care?“. What is it about your story that is unique? Does your angle just state the obvious or does it reveal something insightful that answers questions or elaborates on a hot topic?
Before you even start writing the article you should be thinking about these questions. The survey data you collect, or the research/study that you do, needs to satisfy one of two things; 1) it’s original or 2) it expands on an existing topic.
As an example, earlier in 2014 a UK politician suggested that ‘time wasting’ visits to A&E should be made chargeable; this is an original news story, but as a marketer, you can hook into that angle by surveying GP’s themselves, or asking other questions around the topic (an example of this further down).
2. The Journalist hasn’t got an angle
Too often we’ve seen authors write bias stories in their release. Perhaps you’ve taken a negative tone towards an individual/brand, or you’ve made your own opinions clear in the article. DO NOT DO THIS – press releases are there for the journalist to decide on what their readers want to hear. Arm them with barrels and barrels of ammunition and then let them create their own angle.
With the example above, simply providing the data and highlighting some of the more pertinent results is enough to get any journalist eager to write. Don’t start trying to put words in their mouth!
3. Your distribution sucks
Perhaps you’re looking at a free PR outlet, or perhaps you were going to post it to your own or your client’s blog. Sorry to break it to you, but there are very few blogs that get widely syndicated and I’d guess that your or your client’s blog doesn’t either. You have to market your press release just like you’d market any other piece of content.
You have the option to pay for a distribution on a reputable network like PRWeb.com, but from our experience your best bet by far is to send an email to a database of relevant journalists – journalists who are looking for stories every single day. You will also be able to find influencers through software like Traackr.com. Unfortunately databases and subscriptions to sites like Traackr.com do cost money (anywhere between £3K-£15K/year), but if you want to start taking your distribution seriously then you need to consider these as an option.
4. Your title and intro flops
There is nothing worse than a fantastic story being tripped up at the first hurdle. Your title should matter more to you than anything else about your release. A title and its opening paragraph can quite literally make or break a press release all on its own. Your title needs to communicate your findings immediately in a short and literal statement, followed by an opening paragraph that expands on what it is you’re about to deliver. For example:
Survey of 500 UK GPs reveals over 60% in favour of A&E charge
A survey conducted by X has revealed that over 60% of GPs in the UK would like to see an A&E charge in the UK and 18% of those in favour say that “£50 will not be enough”. Those cities most in favour of the charge were London, Manchester and Birmingham.
Along with this, you’ll want to attach the full results to the email so that the journalist can not only take your suggested figures, but draw their own conclusions as well.
5. You’re trying to make a conversation
When emailing a press release to a journalist there is one simple rule. Do not try to personalise your content, i.e. don’t start your email with Hi <>. These people get emails from hundreds, if not thousands of people every day, and they’ll see right through your attempt to personalise your outreach. Your subject should be your title, your body should be your release (with notes to editors), and you should attach any relevant material (compressed and easily downloadable).
Overall, press distribution is simply not as simple as writing a piece of content and publishing it to your blog or a free news network. If you want to build links or gain brand visibility from PR then you need to make sure you’ve got those 5 key areas ticked off before you can be confident to say that your release will gain traction.