A recent estimate suggests that about 1,750 press releases are distributed online every day.
Still, their effectiveness depends upon what is being measured.
The competition for placement has increased, so it’s safe to say that press releases can always be improved. Here are four ways that PR professionals can do just that:
1. Reconsider your target.
In his book, “The New Rules of Marketing and PR,” David Meerman Scott tells how authors Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg successfully marketed a book by sending out digital press releases every day for months. Though this sort of “outside the box” thinking isn’t something that every business can (or even should) do, it does illustrate why they published so many press releases: They were targeting “influencers,” not mainstream journalists.
Along those lines, a friend who’s a history buff recently read in The Wall Street Journal about a book of letters written by a German soldier during World War II. When my friend looked for the book, he found it had a limited printing and would cost hundreds of dollars.
Despite its promotion in The Wall Street Journal, it never generated enough buzz to be published for the mass market. This is a main theme of Scott’s book: Niche influencers are better for target audiences, and mainstream media placement isn’t always hugely beneficial.
2. Tighten your language.
We see plenty of content about what journalists prefer in press releases . Some qualities most often mentioned are:
- Straightforward. This approach offers the bottom line up front. It’s not verbose, instead succinctly explaining who, what, when, where and why (or some variation of these).
- Jargon-free. These press releases have an external voice. They are edited to describe your point of view or messaging to external targets.
- Subject-matter appropriate. These target journalists or influencers who create content about a particular subject.
By making your press releases accessible and relevant to your recipients, you will gain an advantage over those who just blast them out. Create your releases as a team, and have multiple people edit and proofread them.
3. Improve your ancillary resources.
Most every PR pro understands that attachments aren’t advisable. Still, ancillary resources are important. Try these tactics to create interesting, pertinent, unattached ancillary resources:
- Use a cloud-based storage app such as Dropbox, Google Drive or Evernote . You can share links to files using the services in your press release without attaching anything to an email or from a distribution list. An alternative to this would be to link to your the media page on your website.
- Use data visualization tools to create relevant, interesting visuals. There are tools that nonprogrammers can use to make rich visualizations with little technical know-how.
- Hire a third party to create visualizations to accompany your press release . Depending on the subject, a graphic designer or programmer may be able to create interesting visuals that substantially enhance your press release.
Remember, too, that journalists and influencers love exclusivity. Offering exclusive visuals with your press release gives you a greater likelihood of securing placement.
4. Don’t send a press release at all.
Journalists and influencers who have established relationships with you (and are pertinent to your subject matter) and much more amenable to pitches.
Never use a press release when you can send a targeted pitch.
A version of this article first appeared on Cision.