Of Course You Have An Idea for a Press Release. But Is It A Good Idea?
Most business owners, large or small, do not really understand why journalists write about some topics and not about others. It’s also common for business owners to think that many happenings within their business should be turned into a press release (and eventually, into a news article.)
As a previous journalist and editor, and as a current PR professional, I am here to clarify and help your business with its press release distribution efforts.
Just because YOU think a certain topic or business happening is interesting, does not mean that a lot of other people will find it interesting or important.
“Newsworthy” is the particular term journalists use to decide if a story topic is interesting enough for people to want to know about it. The more newsworthy aspects the story contains, the more newsworthy it is and the more likely a journalist will cover it. Journalists use their knowledge about their audience to determine if a topic is newsworthy enough for them to create a story about it.
AKA: Just because you put a press release in front of the eyes of a journalist, does not mean that the journalist will find it newsworthy enough to make it into a news story. Especially if there are a lot of other good news items that particular day.
Journalists are taught that there are nine elements to be used to consider if a press release (or a news story in general) is newsworthy. The more of these elements in a press release, the more likely that the press release will be noticed by editors.
- Timeliness: Is the story relevant right now? People want to know what is going on now or in the nearby future.
- Novelty: This means that the information is fresh, unique, surprising or unpredictable.
- Impact: How many people are or will be affected by this? The more, the better.
- Proximity: Make sure that the story hits close to home for the readers. People are usually more interested in what is happening near where they live or work.
- Prominence: News about a well-known person, object or business gets read.
- Drama: The more mystery, suspense or heightened emotion equate to a more dramatic topic.
- Conflict: People are interested in reading about conflict and challenges. This can include a fight between people, countries or a single person battling society, nature or oneself.
- Human Interest: This is in regards to human emotion, whether it evoke a tear-jerker response or a feel-good response.
- Usefulness: If a topic will provide meaningful assistance, then it displays usefulness.
Please use these newsworthy elements as a guide to decide if a certain business happening should turned into a press release. Journalists are much more likely to take notice of a press release with at least four of these newsworthy elements. If your idea for a press release only fits one or two of these elements, then consider putting the information on your company blog or social media, as opposed to a press release.
Some Good Press Release Topic Ideas:
- If your business recently opened up a new office, moved, expanded, merged or hired new executives.
- If your business is working with or just finished working with a famous person or business.
- If your business set some type of record.
- If you started a brand new business that is the first of its kind.
- If your business helped solve a local or widespread problem.
- If your business participates with charities or donates to nonprofits.
Other Helpful PR Tips:
Create a media list of local media organizations and industry magazines. (Industry magazines and websites are more likely to publish your press releases than the local media.)
Have a professional write your press releases, because journalists and public relations professionals write with a particular type of official style, and editors will throw out press releases with grammatical, punctuation, and style errors.
Don’t plan to make a new press release every week or every two weeks – only when something newsworthy is occurring.
Don’t make a press release for every conference or event your business attends or hosts: Create an Events page on your website to highlight your upcoming events. You can also put this type of information on your company Facebook page, blog and in e-mail blasts.
Post press release pdfs on your website and you can also share them via social media.
Research PR distribution sites. There are some very effective ones that you pay for, such as prweb.com, but there are also many sites that offer free distribution services, such as pr.com. This helps with SEO but also brings people to your website.