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Why Didn’t My Press Release Get Picked Up?

Upset disappointed young businessman sitting with hands on head

Whether we PR professionals want to come to terms with it or not, the media is not our mouthpiece that will print exactly what we want, when we want it. They are the ultimate gatekeepers who determine the extent of media exposure that will be granted to us or our clients. The sheer volume of press releases that cross their desk each and every day ensures that only a fraction will receive review, and an even fewer number will be published in some capacity.

But don’t despair! Rarely is an ignored press release a direct reflection on your business or your media relations skills. Rather it could be any number of possible circumstances. Take a look:

It wasn’t really news.

The hard truth is that you’re likely to think everything your organization does is newsworthy because, well, it involves you. It can sometimes require taking a step back and role playing a reporter to determine whether or not something is worthy of media attention. Just because it’s not a good fit for the media, doesn’t mean you can’t promote it in other ways. Utilize your website, blog, social media, and newsletter to tell your story.

It was overly promotional.

Be sure to learn the best practices of writing a press release. Your headline can make or break your chances of getting picked-up. If you start off overly promotional, with a heavy focus on your business or brand, this is a huge red flag to a reporter that this isn’t a helpful “news hint,” it’s a PR tactic. As much as a client may want to see their name in the title, explain to them that this isn’t the best media-bait.

You’ve used this angle, again and again.

Is your strategy to, every month, announce the new businesses to whom you’ve sold services or goods? The first time you do this is the best chance you’ll have at gaining media attention. Every press release after that is beating a dead horse, in the eyes of the media. Reserve this angle for a truly noteworthy client, or present your new client information in a unique way. It’s easy for the media to spot a template press release which will quickly get you tossed in the “no” file.

It got stuck in spam.

There are major benefits to using an email platform like Mail Chimp or Constant Contact to send out your press releases. However, they can increase your chances of getting you sent to a spam folder. I’ve had my own clients’ emails skip my inbox and head straight for the spam folder, even after I marked previous messages from the same sender as “not spam.” The bottom line is to track your analytics, as these email platforms allow you to do. If it seems like a low percentage of contacts are opening your email, it may be due to their spam filters.

It was poorly written.

Another hard truth is that your press release may been poorly written to a point that your media contacts couldn’t see the value in the information you were sharing. I again reference the best practices of press releases to ensure you have the greatest advantage of getting picked up. You need to write to the media’s preference, not your own. Learn to embrace AP style!

You relied solely on a “Wire” for distribution.

You are likely familiar with PR wire services such as PRWeb, PR Newswire, and Business Wire. I have yet to have a client truly benefit from any pick-ups received from such services. I believe the value lies in personal contact, not some syndication service. Even if you’re hitting a list of several hundred media contacts, you are far more able to personalize your messaging and track their engagement from traditional email. Don’t waste your time or money!

You gave up too soon.

Finally, and most importantly, you may have just given up too soon. I have yet to receive a single complaint from a member of the media for sending out the same press release twice, each with a unique headline. Sometimes you hit them on a busy news day when they just don’t have the capacity to cover your story. A few days later might be the perfect timing for when they need a story like yours. Try and try and again – but two times is the perfect number. Anything more than that could work against you.

Most importantly, don’t drive yourself crazy over-analyzing the reasons your press release may have been overlooked – and don’t stop trying! Tomorrow is another news day.

Can you empathize with this experience? Join in the conversation by leaving a comment.

 

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Posted by on May 15, 2017 in Business & Success, Life

 

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How Public Relations is different than Advertising

PR vs Advertising

So often lines are blurred when it comes to Public Relations and Advertising. While the two certainly overlap, there are distinct differences that determine how and when you should use them in your communications strategy.

A solid plan can and should have elements of both, but it’s important to understand their unique roles and seek out different professionals to represent each one to ensure you’re not using Advertising to solve a Public Relations problem or vice versa.  Take a look at our simple, but helpful overview of these two industries.

Public Relations is…

Earned

Public Relations is also referred to as earned media or earned placement. You don’t pay for the specific placement of content, but there are other costs associated with issuing media relations and content creation that often comes in the form of paying a PR professional to create and disseminate this for you. However, compared to true advertising costs for the same size placement, PR is often a much more cost-effective option.

Viewed as objective

The goal of Public Relations is to garner earned media such as a newspaper article or news segment based upon the information you share in your media advisory or press release. Ultimately, it’s the media outlet producing this content for you, with their byline. As a result, readers or viewers often see this content as more objective (as objective as media can be, right?) than paid advertising which gives it trust and credibility.

Not always in your control

And while free and credible content are both great aspects of Public Relations, it’s important to remember that on the flip side, you are not in full control what’s written about you. Issuing a press release doesn’t mean a reporter will choose to republish every last detail you include. A good PR professional will carefully monitor how the media interprets your story and quickly react if there’s anything inaccurate or undesirable.

Advertising is…

Paid

Most obviously, Advertising costs money. You buy placement when you want it and how you want it. Every media outlet has their own department of sales reps to accommodate this very industry. They are constantly putting together new and enticing ad packages to get businesses to “pay for play.”

Viewed as subjective

Your audience will almost always know that an advertisement is paid placement. In a magazine, articles are marked as “advertisement” or “sponsored content.” On TV, a commercial spot is obviously different from a real news segment. Regardless of how truthful your ad is, your audience will view it with a bit more skepticism because they know you paid for placement and can (generally) say whatever you want.

In your control

Because you pay for specific placement of specific content, Advertising is a lot more controlled than Public Relations. You know exactly when an ad or story will run and what it will look like or say. Although the price of placement can be steep, you fully control your message.

Do you work in either the PR or advertising industry? What other differences would you say are most important?

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2016 in Business & Success

 

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How to Communicate a Consistent Message During a Crisis

How to Communicate a Consistent Message During a CrisisNo one ever wants a crisis to strike. In fact, simply talking about this devastating news can be enough for many business owners to change the conversation. Sure, it’s uncomfortable, but talking about your crisis communication plan NOW can save you a lot of stress and damage in the future, should a bad situation actually occur.

Crisis communication is one of the key topics covered by the Public Relations umbrella. Fortunately my clients have only experienced a few inconveniences or setbacks, but no major crises. However, we still plan for them! Having a plan in place ensures that you stand ready to quickly and appropriately address such issues to minimize negative impact to your brand and business.

One of the most important elements to a good crisis communication plan is knowing how you will craft and share a consistent message. Without further ado, let’s jump right in with my top five, no-nonsense tips for achieving this in a crisis situation. Take a look!

Establish the facts.

In the event of a crisis, information and questions are likely to circulate quickly, both internally and externally. However, not everything being shared is going to be fact. Communicating a consistent message begins with separating what is true from what is false or speculated. Begin by working internally with your communications team to identify the facts you know at this time. Write them down in the form of bullet points and refer to them throughout these next steps.

How to address unknown details or private information you cannot share at this time.

Among the facts, you are likely to have sensitive information that should remain private to the media until a later date. This may include releasing the names of victims or sharing allegations before charges are made final. In such instances, it is acceptable to tell the media “Such details cannot be shared at this time.” You can maintain credibility by adding “We will keep you updated as soon as we have more information to share.”

If you only have partial information about a situation, set an internal deadline for how long you can afford to wait for the rest of the facts before speaking to the media. If this deadline passes without more information, use the phrases bolded above to communicate to the media that the information is not fully available to you at this time, but you plan to announce such details as soon as they become known.

Bring it all back to your core mission statement.

Communicating the details of a crisis situation is often unpleasant and uncomfortable. You can buffer the blow of this hard news by concluding your press release or public statement with the reiteration of your business’s core mission statement. If you do not have a preformatted mission statement, now is the time to prepare one.

Share the message internally, so all members of your staff can repeat the same message.

Now that you have identified that facts you can share publicly and have incorporated your core mission statement into your crisis messaging, it’s time to first share this internally with your staff. The goal of this step is to get everyone on the same page. People who may have been exposed to false information, or who may be completely unaware of the crisis, will be empowered with the facts. Your staff can help serve as your ambassadors during this difficult time. Involve them and equip them with the proper information to do so!

Get the message out on all communication channels available to you.

Finally, disseminate your crisis messaging across all channels available to you. Consider these ideas: website’s homepage, social media accounts, press release, email announcement or a printed letter mailed to all parents.

Have you ever had to deal with a crisis situation? Share your best practices for communicating a consistent message – and preserving your brand by commenting below!

 
4 Comments

Posted by on November 30, 2015 in Business & Success

 

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7 Ways to Use a Press Release Beyond Pitching to Media

7 Ways to Use a Press Release Beyond Pitching to MediaWhen a business has an exciting announcement, one of the most popular reactions is to issue a press release. Sometimes the news is indeed press worthy and you will earn a feature story, but more commonly it’s something that will never get picked up by the media.

So now you have invested your time and resources into creating a quality press release, but are left feeling like it was a complete waste. The good news is there are still a variety of ways in which you can get a bang for your buck out of this content. Here are 7 ways in which I encourage clients to utilize their press releases in addition to simply pitching it to media.

  1. Dedicate a section of your website to news and announcements

Businesses that find themselves frequently issuing press releases or making announcements should consider adding a dedicated “news” section to their website to archive this content. Upload your press release to the top of this page and also include a link to download the PDF version. Not only will this create fresh content for your website, it will also increase your press release’s visibility and SEO.

  1. Pull quotes and use on social media

Next, get that press release out on your social media accounts! The best strategy is to pull a few of the most compelling excerpts from your announcement and use them as a “teaser” to then direct people to read the full announcement on your website (once you get that “news” section added). Pull different quotes and update your social media accounts multiple times over the course of several days to fully promote your press release to your social networks.

  1. Post it to your blog

In addition to having a “news” section on your website, I also highly recommend starting a blog. This is the personal arm to your business where you can post valuable content that helps your customers get to know the people behind the brand.

Once you’ve issued a press release, alter it to function more like an editorial piece and post it to your blog. This means get rid of all the odd formatting of a press release, add a more creative, less “newsy” headline and weave in fun and personal elements into the content of the announcement. Include photos and relevant tags to increase readers’ interest and SEO.

  1. Promote it on Linkedin as a long form post

We talked about promoting this as a social media status update, but don’t forget about Linkedin’s long form post feature that is very valuable for promoting articles and announcements in full form. Use the content you posted to your website’s blog so that it appears more like an article than like a press release. Simply add your title, content and some photos and you’re ready to publish!

  1. Email it to your marketing list

Next, take your announcement and format it into an email template (by using an email platform like ConstantContact or MailChimp). Send this out to your business contacts and client lists. They should already receive regular news and announcements from you, so it makes sense that they would also be informed of this announcement as well. Include a call to action, if relevant, and link back to your website’s blog and/or news section.

  1. Include it in your printed newsletter

Many businesses have moved away from sending printed newsletters or publications, but some still do. If you’re a business who uses this as a marketing tactic, be sure and also utilize this to further promote your press release. Edit down the press release content to be a concise paragraph or two and compliment it with a compelling title. Then include this, along with other articles and announcements, in your next printed newsletter.

  1. Make it part of your annual report

Finally, for businesses who produce a quarterly or annual report, this is a valuable opportunity to also promote your press release. Take a similar approach to what you did for your printed newsletter and create a brief and to-the-point version of your press release. Include this in your “news and announcements” section of your report to showcase the recent milestones you’ve achieved.

BONUS TIP: So your press release didn’t get picked up by the media the first time you sent it out, well then try, try again! I’ve found value in waiting a few days after an initial dissemination and then slightly changing the subject line of both the email and the press release. I re-send this to the same media list and include a photo or two from the event (if one took place).

You never know if your first pitch hit a reporter on a bad day, got lost in a spam folder or the subject didn’t resonate with them. Re-sending just one more time will increase your chances of getting a press hit without becoming spammy or annoying.

What other tips do you have for getting the most traction out of your press release? Share your thoughts by commenting below!

 
 

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