is the most powerful promotional tool there is (since it is more
impacting, more far-reaching, and far more credible than advertising),
it is the one that is the least effectively used.
for example, business owners view a news release as a form of
It's definitely not. The media are not in the business to provide
free advertising. And if you are guilty of this, they will also
likely tell you (if they actually tell you anything at all) that
you should have called the advertising sales department instead.
get me wrong. Their goal is to report on stories that affect or
are of interest to their readers or viewers. So, news releases
are the media's best friends -- but only if they follow a few
Newsworthiness is the Foundation
Reporters are always looking for newsworthy items on which to
report -- that's what reporters do. But they specifically like
human interest stories, stories that are related to current events
or important issues, or those that have some emotional appeal.
Larger media also like stories that appeal to a wide audience.
Targeted or specialized media, on the other hand, love to report
on stories that appeal to their specific market and thus help
capture more of it.
Of course, the foundational component of the news release is the
news aspect. A good story must be newsworthy for it to be considered.
But the news release should not tell the entire story. If you
do have a good story to tell, your news release should provide
enough information to generate interest and it must say just enough
to incite the media to want to know more.
While there are thousands of ways to present a news release, there
is no one "correct" way of doing it. There are as many different
ways to present a news release as there are publications out there.
However, all of them should at least possess some key elements,
• A strong, compelling headline
• An appealing, informative story
• A professional, tasteful appearance
• A number of quotes and reactions
• And the sender's contact information
An excellent news release can also be a powerful business tool
for gaining free media coverage for your company, product, or
service -- and keep in mind that media coverage tends to be a
more effective form of promotion than advertising since it is
coming from an objective third party. It can be used for announcing
important company changes, new appointments or recruits within
your organization, or the launch of your company's new product
Capitalize on Leadership or Uniqueness, not Superiority
Being the first in some category is an effective tool that can
also help spark more interest in your news release. For example,
if you can support the fact that your product is the first in
its category, that your service is the first to be delivered in
a certain way, or that your event is the first or largest of its
kind, you can and should use that information in your news release.
Obviously, a company claiming to be the best is never a news item.
But a company claiming to be the first at something always is.
Capitalize on it when approaching the media. Look for ways to
market your story differently by presenting it with a different
angle or a unique twist. For example, think of the times you've
seen a story about someone starting a business. While that may
sound trivial, it isn't if that person is a celebrity or suffers
from a disability. In other words, bring your own unique angle
or experience into your news release.
In fact, human interest aspects are wonderful tools to spark interest.
In most cases, adding a special human element or some emotional
appeal -- even blending it with an important social issue -- will
up your chances. The key is to be able to capture the interest
of reporters who are bombarded with literally thousands of news
releases each and every business day.
A news release is like a résumé, which is not meant to land a
job but to land an interview. In the same way, a news release
is not meant to get instant media coverage but should be used
as a tool for sparking interest and curiosity among a very busy
and exceedingly leery staff of reporters and editors -- and it
must do so quickly and efficiently. Therefore, the headline as
well as the first few lines should instantly communicate something
worthy of their attention.
You may feel that you're not a skilled writer. And
if you're anything like me, you probably don't have the time.
The following are great sources for help in writing, targeting,
and distributing news releases, particularly electronically or
for Internet-related information. Many provide the full service
while others only provide guidelines as well as lists of media
Finally, Target Your Market... And Your Media
A news release sent to the general media often gets lost in a
sea of others. Most often, it will end up on some editor's desk
where your story will be screened and, if judged newsworthy, passed
along to a particular reporter in the organization. However, special
features writers, columnists, radio show hosts, news anchors,
specialized media, special interest publications, trade publications,
specialty channels, radio shows, and so on are particularly beneficial.
First, a news release sent to a specific person (and not the general
newsroom or media entity) has definitely better chances of being
noticed and reported -- it doesn't have to go through so many
hands. While it may require a little research, remember that the
media are made up of people too. They like the personalized approach
just as much as your clients do.
Second, targeting your news release is far more effective, for
the results that you want your release to achieve will be substantially
higher when reported in a medium that targets your specific market.
Ask the following: "Where does my niche or target market hang
out? What do they read? What shows do they watch? What programs
do they prefer? To which ezines are they subscribed? What web
sites do they surf? On what discussion boards or forums do they
participate? With what associations or trade organizations are
The media's greatest concern is their audience and especially
their ratings -- not the stories on which they report. Therefore,
targeting your news release is just as important as market targeting.
Not only will you attract qualified prospects but your chances
of being reported will also increase since the media love stories
that inform or affect their specific audience.