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While companies have more ways than ever to distribute important announcements at little or no cost, the formal press release is still alive and well.
The reason? A good press release is still capable of driving earned media.
Unfortunately, many companies fail to craft press releases that contain the components necessary for success. Here are five of them that every company should keep in mind.
A compelling story
If your press release fails to attract attention, the most likely reason will be that it doesn't tell a compelling enough story.
While the launch of an upgraded product, for example, might be big news within a company, it might be of limited interest to the outside world.
On the other hand, press releases that provide value to readers, such as unique insight, are far more likely to resonate.
That's why it's so important to reflect on the story you're trying to tell before a single word is written.
Is there enough to warrant attention from the media, your industry and the public at large? If the answer isn't realistically "yes," a press release might not be worth the investment.
A good headline
Steak is a must, but when it comes to press releases, a little sizzle helps a lot too.
Because literally thousands of press releases hit the wires daily, it can be very difficult to cut through the clutter without an eye-catching and succinct headline.
When it comes to coming up with the perfect headline, don't just think clickbait. Instead, it can be helpful to apply the same process you might use when creating copy for AdWords ads.
A few meaningful quotes
While the journalists and bloggers most interested in your press release will likely reach out to you for additional information, there are times when your story will be covered without follow-up.
Adding a few quotes from company leadership or key stakeholders to your press release can be very helpful in these situations because journalists and bloggers often want them and will use them.
Responsive, empowered contacts
It is crucial that the contacts listed in the press release are available and able to respond quickly to enquiries from journalists and bloggers.
Because journalists and bloggers are often working on tight deadlines and the value of a story decreases quickly, a responsive contact with the ability to rapidly provide additional information and make connections to the right people within a company can often mean the difference between earned media and no media.
The right distribution strategy
Ultimately, the story you deliver in press release format has to get to the right people and that's where distribution strategy is so critical.
While the broadest reach possible seems desirable, and can be sensible in some cases, it's also important not to assume that broad reach will always equate to effective distribution.
Many wire services, including BusinessWire, PR Newswire and Marketwired, have industry-specific and regional distribution options, which can be more effective and less costly than their national distribution options.
Additionally, it's important to remember that wire services aren't a panacea. Direct, personalized outreach to specific journalists or bloggers often produce the biggest wins.
For more on this topic, read: