Unfortunately, old-school isn’t so trendy when it describes your company’s public relations strategy.
Public relations should always be evolving, innovating, and improving to mirror how technology is shifting human behavior.
Ten years ago, the newspaper was a ritual in people’s daily lives. Today, we prefer to scan headlines on Twitter or see what’s hot in our Facebook feed. People now have control over where, when, and how they consume information and, as a result, it's becoming harder for traditional PR teams to do their jobs.
Sounds pretty hopeless, right? Wrong. The answer for PR pros to stay with the times and better their strategies is simple: Stop kickin’ it old-school.
Crafting press releases, pitching journalists, and waiting for responses was our best bet a decade ago at getting covered in any news outlet. Reporters often hold the key to national coverage, but they get flooded daily with various announcements and have to cater to their audience first and foremost, not your business’ best interests.
While it still takes relationship-building to get into popular publications, we now have the opportunity to quit playing the waiting game and generate our own buzz.
By turning your PR strategy into an inbound one, you create opportunities that weren’t there before and carve out a place for your company in the modern media landscape
Press Releases Can Be Viable Content Type
One of the most crucial updates to make to your PR strategy is to think of press releases as a content avenue.
In our ebook titled The Newsworthy Guide to Inbound Public Relations, we outlined some ideas for creating outside-the-box content to announce a new product launch, board member, and other news from your company. Blog posts, SlideShares, and social media assets are creative ways to get the word out ... but we can’t ignore one of our most valuable pieces of content: the press release.
While press releases are often associated with old-school PR, there’s a reason creative announcements should include or link to one. Inbound means delighting your customers, prospects, and followers. Having hard facts, stats, and quotes around your announcement in the form of a press release makes it easy for reporters, writers, and followers to get all the details they need in one place for an article, story, or post.
Writing a press release may seem daunting a first, and I'm sure we've all Googled "press release example" at some point in our careers to wrap our heads around the format and structure of conventional releases. Well, look no further.
We have crafted this comprehensive, easy-to-follow press release template complete with promotional plan and considerations for your next announcement. We use these same guidelines when writing our releases here at HubSpot and created a faux release to illustrate what content goes where and why.
How to Craft a Press Release
You've got your announcement in mind, and now it's time to get it down in words to share with your community, industry, and followers. Take Catbrella Inc., a fictitious ad agency, which just gained its 10th Twitter follower after two years of paid social media efforts. To announce its achievement, Catbrella could issue a press release like the one below*.
*Disclaimer: HubSpot is entirely responsible for the silliness of this faux announcement.
1) Make Your Headline Irresistible
Like writing the perfect blog post title, setting up your press release for success starts with your headline. You only have one line to work with, which can seem scary, but consider diction carefully to make your headline captivating.
In the Catbrella release, the word "celebrates" demands more attention than "sees" or "gains." Seemingly simple changes like that can change the feel and urgency of your announcement.
Most importantly, though, your headline needs to set up your news in just a few words, so choose them wisely to capture the heart of the announcement.
2) Don't Play Hard to Get
For reporters, analysts, influencers, or followers to be inclined to share your announcement, you have to tell them upfront why they should care.
The first paragraph of your release should cover the who, what, why, where, and how of your new launch, update, or development. Reporters don't have a ton of time to sift through details and fluffy background information -- they just need the facts that'll help them tell your story to someone else from a position of authority.
There shouldn't be any new, crucial information covered after this section that the reader could potentially miss.
3) Offer a Tempting Quotable
Once you've set the scene, it's time to bring your details to life with a quote that reporters can use for context around your announcement and help paint a picture of how your news affects the given industry, customer base, and landscape.
Ideally, quotes will be from key stakeholders in your company including your executive team, project leads, or those directly impacted by your announcement. Quoting key figures and authorities underlines the importance of your development. The chosen quote should shape your narrative and emphasize the core of the announcement.
4) Provide Valuable Background Information
In this last paragraph, keep in mind that the reader already has all of the vital details and information they need to file a story or spread the word.
It can be tempting to provide superfluous facts and tidbits about your company or the development of your announcement -- we sometimes think a piece of writing is lacking if it isn't drawn-out and just shy of being a novella. However, a press release needs to be helpful and concise.
Offer details here that strengthen your narrative, like creative or noteworthy ways your company developed the project or announcement at hand, or, when applicable, comment on future implications of your announcement.
5) Serve as an Easy Reference
This section is where you provide a few sentences that summarize your business. Like a boilerplate, it should be easy for a reporter to grasp what your company does and a brief history of growth.
Also, be sure to include a link to your company's homepage so readers don't have to go hunting for more information or your website.
The key to keeping your PR strategy new-school is to forget all your preconceived notions of what public relations is or needs to be. There are aspects of traditional PR, like the press release, that are still very much valuable and shouldn't be abandoned. Instead of ditching tactics like this one, just give them a modern makeover to make them more useful for your marketing efforts.
Think about how you've used inbound methods to transform your marketing strategies to be more personalized, approachable, and build relationships. Those same principles apply to your PR strategy: Create content to craft your own story and use tactful outreach to get reporters and analysts familiar with your brand.
What other best practices do you follow when creating press releases? Share your thoughts with us below!
Image credit: Edwin van Vliet