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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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A Changing Industry: Why Public Relations is Now Personal Relations

A Changing Industry Why Public Relations is Now Personal RelationsPublic Relations. When broken down it quite literally means relating (i.e. communicating) with the public. Yet, the term “public” is no longer as fitting as we move into an ever-increasingly personal society where we share intimate information with one another every day. Within our social circles, technology has granted us the ability to know what our neighbor had for dinner on Saturday, what our second cousin purchased at a sale on Sunday and the new job a fellow high school graduate accepted on Monday.

No matter how you slice it, we are personally connected and we have grown to appreciate and expect this personal communication. It’s only fitting that Public Relations has caught up with the trend and has moved into the realm of personal relations in order to be more effective and well received.

Let’s take a look at four main reasons why the Public Relations industry is shifting toward personal relations – and how you can utilize resources and opportunities to keep your business ahead of the curve.

There are more ways than ever to communicate with the masses on a personal level

I’ve written about how important it is to highlight the human element within your business and to build your personal brand. Thanks to technology, there are more ways than ever to achieve both of these PR goals easily and fairly inexpensively. Social media is an obvious (and very powerful) platform for connecting with your target audience on a personal level. Finally, us “regular folks” can address a concern or give a compliment to the biggest brands and get a direct – often real-time – response.

In addition to social media, technology has enabled businesses to make even direct marketing a more personalized experience. Mail and email messages not only address the recipient by name but can be crafted to reflect their very specific interests like what car they drive or what street they live on.

As surprising as it may be sometimes to receive an email from a business that knows I have a Russian Blue cat based upon a previous purchase, I love that the offers and coupons are directly relevant to my needs.

Social media encourages sharing the “human” side of your business

I don’t expect everyone to be willing to get extremely personal on social media, but I do encourage you to find a point on the spectrum that is comfortable for you. Whether you are sharing content on your personal profiles or your business’s profiles, you will increase the visibility of your posts by crafting genuine content that engages your viewers.

What this really means is skip the stock photos and use real photos of your staff or pictures from inside your office. Give a face to a name. Don’t just share a link; ask a question or offer an insightful thought that will inspire people.

Social media platforms are getting smarter at weeding out overly promotional content and spam. Avoid getting trapped in these filters by remaining genuine and personal with the content you share.

People don’t want to be sold something, they want to learn something

Think about the websites, blogs, emails and social media posts that catch your attention. Do they engage you because they are trying to sell you their product or service, or do they engage you because they offer information you deem to be valuable. I would imagine the vast majority of you responded with the second option.

Practice “personal relations” by first building trust with your potential customers. Give them useful information at no cost and with no obligations. As an expert in your field you should be grateful for any opportunity to share your knowledge.

Technology provides us with the ability to access information we need right at our fingertips which has evolved us into a society hungry for knowledge. Feed that hunger – and build trust in your brand – by offering useful information to your target audience.

Telling your story is what breaks through the noise and gets you remembered

If you have visited my new website, you will know that my PR philosophy is “Every business has a story. What makes yours stand out is how well you communicate it.” I truly believe in the power of modern day storytelling and I also believe that every business has a unique story or angle that can be their point of differentiation.

As the Public Relations industry shifts toward “personal relations,” telling your unique story is even more important. As a potential customer, yes we need to know what you do and how you do it, but we also now want to know WHY you do it. What inspired you? Where did you gather your expertise? Are you carrying on a tradition or legacy?

The answers to these questions are what will break through the PR and marketing noise that we are inundated with daily and help us remember why we want to do business with YOU over anyone else.

Do you agree or disagree that Public Relations has a growing emphasis on personal relations that is reshaping the industry? Share your thoughts by commenting below!

 
3 Comments

Posted by on May 18, 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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Twitter’s 6 Distinct Communication Networks and How to Utilize Them

Photo courtesy of Social Media Today

Photo courtesy of Social Media Today

Twitter is a vast ocean of information that is constantly being washed over with new content every second of the day. This fact alone can make Twitter feel like an overwhelming marketing tool or one that is simply impossible to keep up with. The fact is that you don’t have to keep up with it all. You only have to effectively connect with one of the several distinct communication networks that exist within Twitter to make an impact.

To better understand just how our communication strategy should shift when reaching out to these various groups of contacts, let’s take a look at the 6 different networks as well as how we can more effectively shape our message to appeal to them.

  1. Polarized Crowds

This communication network attracts some of the most heated and uncomfortable Tweet debates out there. You know what I’m talking about, the ones where 140 characters are flying back and forth with more sarcasm and passive aggression than any professional adult would dare to use face to face.

Polarized crowds make the social media world go round. It’s why divisive topics like pro-life/pro-choice, religion, immigration, gun control and every other political issue imaginable rank among the top trending hashtags day after day.

Polarized crowds are a great network to tap into if you’re looking to “poke the bear” a little. Stirring up a debate is an effective way to get your name out there – for better or for worse. Just be prepared to stay interactive with this network as responses will come at you faster than you might be able to handle and an unacknowledged Tweet is often assumed a concession.

  1. Tight Crowds

Opposite to polarized crowds are tight crowds. These are a network of Twitter followers that come together over a unified hobby or career. If you’re into social media marketing, for example, there is certainly a “tight crowd” to tap into for professional advice and discussion.

You can utilize the knowledge of tight crowds by regularly participating in live discussions. Research relevant hashtags or upcoming tweet chats and jump right in! Be sure and balance sharing information with asking insightful questions. Never has such a wealth of knowledge been expressed in rapid-fire mini-conversations.

  1. Brand Clusters

Brand clusters are fun because they are the cutting edge (if not bleeding edge) of anything trendy going on. This is a fragmented community, but very tight-knit when you hit upon a trend that a group of people are interested in.

You can easily identify potential brand clusters by watching what’s trending on Twitter at any given moment. Check out the hashtags to get in on this network and contribute some valuable information of your own that just might earn you some extra trendy clout.

  1. Community Clusters

Community clusters are exactly that, a cluster. You can often find them swarming around news events whether it’s local, regional, national or global. Community clusters are a great way to stay in the know of what is going on in a particular area.

Harness the power of community clusters by carefully crafting your content to what is most likely to interest them given their demographics and geographic location. Or find answers to particular questions – even public opinion – by joining in a tweet chat relevant to your topic of interest.

  1. Broadcast Networks

Next up is broadcast networks which include media outlets and famous individuals who are in the public eye. Public Relations professionals are most likely keeping a close eye on this communication network as they present relationships that could offer future publicity for your client or cause.

The best way to utilize the broadcast network on Twitter is to stay up to date and to offer meaningful information, when appropriate. Keep in mind that this network if most likely to be bombarded with news pitches and requests for retweets every minute of the day. They’ve become mostly immune to all the “noise.” Your best bet to breaking through is to first build a sincere relationship, only tweet when you have something really good to say and support them in return by retweeting and favoriting their tweets (with insightful comments, for bonus points).

  1. Support Networks

Finally there are support networks. These include companies or services with customer support and non-profit organizations who may offer emotional or medical support to their constituents. For the most part, the members of this network have a vested interest in helping you solve your problems. This is when one small tweet can go a long way to getting the support you need.

The best way to utilize support networks is to be kind, ask a sincere question or politely explain a problem and always, always use your manners! I stress this because it can be easy to get irritated when dealing with a customer service issue, but just as much as the problem is a reflection on the company, how you communicate with them is a reflection on your own brand.

Now that you have a better understanding of the 6 different types of Twitter networks, be sure and consider this information when planning your social media strategy. Who you’re trying target should shape your message and the way you approach questions/discussions. It can also help you organize your list of contacts to connect with them on a more personal level.

How have your social media efforts been impacted by Twitter’s distinct communication networks? Share your personal experiences by commenting below!

 
 

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The Power of the Written Word: Why Marketers Say Written Content Still Trumps Visuals

words have power

The saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words, but it when comes to marketing and branding, experts say that written content is still king.

A recent survey from Social Media Examiner shares some interesting (and unexpected) insights into how marketers value social media and content. What really caught my attention was that even in a social landscape that appears to be dominated by visuals and graphics, it’s the written content that still has the greatest impact on sharing a message.

Over half of marketers – 58 percent – claim written content is their most important form of social content. Visual content – the next highest category – came in at just 19 percent. From there the categories become even weaker and more spread out.

But we know visuals grab our attention, so why should we care about these numbers? The results of this survey were from 3,000 marketing professionals that live and breathe social media every single day. They quite literally make it their job to try new trends and monitor the results. Regardless of what we feel is most effective, these people have the data to show us what’s really working. And they’re saying that even the most mesmerizing graphic designs will miss the mark without quality written content to back it up.

Really though, this survey isn’t telling us anything we shouldn’t already know. It’s simply bringing to light the obvious trends that may be so obvious we are completely overlooking them. Social media values (and rewards) original written content. Take for example, LinkedIn. They understand the power of the written word and that’s why they created a publishing platform where members can share their thoughts in an organized and attractive format.

In case you still need more proof to convince you of the importance of written content as part of your marketing strategy, let’s not forget about SEO. Search engines love original written content! Even visuals rely on written content in the file name and captions to help boost their indexing on search engines.

The Takeaway

This is an important reminder to not get lazy with our content and messaging. Your visuals and audio clips will grab your audience’s attention, but your message will be what makes them stay. So often I see a business or brand post beautifully designed graphics to their Facebook page only to combine it with a poorly written caption – or none at all. The difference between these visuals and ones that include a quality caption can be clearly seen in the interactions it receives.

Additionally, original written content is a valuable opportunity to give a voice to your brand or define yourself as a thought leader and authority. Better yet, use it to tell a captivating story!

And finally, there is absolutely still reason to share visuals alongside your written content. When combined, the two will grab the minds and hearts of your readers – and keep them coming back for more.

Do you agree or disagree that written content remains more powerful than visual or audio content? Share your reasoning by commenting below!

 
5 Comments

Posted by on October 20, 2014 in Business & Success, Social Media

 

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Appearance vs Experience: How social media has changed what we value

taking a photoHow often would you say you check your social media news feeds and see a picture of a friend on vacation, enjoying a fancy dinner, attending an expensive sporting event, meeting a celebrity or buying something big like a car or a house? I would venture to say this is likely an everyday occurrence. It’s common for social media to attract information such as big announcements or fun experiences, but what’s concerning is the trend of sacrificing the full enjoyment of these experiences in order to amplify their appearance.

We are becoming a society that is more focused on the appearance of our life experiences than we are with the actual enjoyment our life experiences. We can no longer appreciate a Valentine’s Day dinner unless we first check-in to the restaurant on social media, share a picture of our pricy entree and finish with an overly mushy (and overly personal) post about our significant other. Why do we need the validation of our social networks to confirm that life is good? Your vacation still occurred whether it’s on your Facebook newsfeed or not and your new car still exists even if your Twitter followers haven’t seen a photo. But maybe the reality of our lives is no longer enough. Maybe now we feel we need a broader audience to really enjoy life’s pleasures. This thought begs the following question…

Do we value the appearance more than the experience?

If you have ever paused, recreated or staged a moment so you could take a photo for Facebook, then the answer is yes. If you have ever updated your status in the middle of a romantic dinner, on vacation or during a massage, the answer is yes. I know I’m just as guilty of this crime as many of you may be and worse yet, it’s a hard habit to break! Next time you’re experiencing something really fun or unique, resist the temptation to update your social media. It seems downright unnatural. In particular, Facebook is becoming a “brag book” where we seek approval and validation for almost everything we do in life. It’s simply not accurate, and a little absurd, to measure the importance of such special moments by the number of “likes” a photo receives. We need to reverse this trend by refocusing on the experience over the appearance. We need to disconnect, even briefly, to allow ourselves a chance to take in the memory of a moment.

While social media has become the catalyst for this problem, it is a platform for sharing. There’s no reason not to update your networks with good news or a photo of something you enjoy. This is only cause for concern if in doing so you diminish the real-life experience for yourself. If you’re too busy trying to capture everything on your iPhone, the world is going to pass you by. Sure you’ll have photos to remind you of these great memories, but wouldn’t you rather simply live them first hand?

Have you seen examples of this emerging trend? Maybe you’re even a contributor. Where do you find your enjoyment – in the appearance or the experience?

 

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A Low-Information Diet – The Solution for Overwhelm and Overload?

fries wrapped in newspaperWhen I was in college I struggled with the perceived pressure to always be “in the know” with local and national media. As soon as I woke up I would turn my TV to the morning news as I checked emails and got ready for the day. On the way to class I would grab our Daily Collegian and a USA Today and scour the top headlines. During breaks I would sit with my phone and scroll through the feeds from various news apps. For all intents and purposes – I was completely wired. I self-prescribed this high-information diet so that I would never appear oblivious or ignorant to the outside world I was just learning to navigate. I was utterly convinced that absorbing as much media as I could was the only way to ensure I could hold a mature an intelligent conversation in the real world.

The building of this pressure was amplified by my communications professors’ preaching to always stay informed, to subscribe to at least 5 news sources a day and to read, read, read. It made sense. If I was going to excel in the field of communications, I needed to understand how people communicate and join in the conversation! I quickly allotted what little free time and free mental space I had remaining to becoming a media watch dog. Once out of college and in the midst of a hectic political campaign where information overload was the first line of the job description, I still tried to absorb the news from several different sources daily on top of everything else expected of me.  Every day was filled with overwhelm.

Then there came the critical moment in my life, the moment that if mapped out on a timeline would look something like a black hole, that I finally found the volume knob on my information feed and turned it completely off.

As you might imagine this was the time I spent re-evaluating what I really wanted to do with my life, what would make me most happy and what I had to do to get there. This was when I became an entrepreneur. It was during these critical weeks that I simply had no time or concern left for a high-information diet. All I knew was that what I was currently doing was making me miserable and I needed to stop it all in order to pinpoint the cause. So what happened when I stopped checking my phone and email, turned off the TV and closed the newspaper? Absolutely nothing. Nothing blew up, nothing burned down, I wasn’t accused of being ignorant and my career wasn’t the least bit affected. In fact, for the first time in a long time I found myself with some free time and free mental space to dedicate to things I actually cared about. The news feeds in my email no longer existed to serve as another to-do and I wasn’t under the same stress to absorb every piece of information around me and store it for later use.

I didn’t become blissfully ignorant, I became selectively ignorant.

So you might expect that with the start of my own business, I began to work this information back into my daily routine. You might even expect for me to brag about how many news sources I consume in a single day or how my finger is always on the pulse of the universe. This simply isn’t so. I still continue to enjoy a low-information diet to this day and I truly believe the benefits I receive from this are far more important and impactful than what I would receive returning to my old routine. My day begins by immediately getting to client work – not slogging through news headlines that may or may never be of any value. My inbox isn’t overloaded with unimportant emails that are basically self-inflicted spam. Most importantly, my mental focus has drastically improved from where it was years ago. I feel clear, calm and collected. This allows me to complete projects more efficiently which in return gives me even more free time. I turn this time into far more meaningful results than simply absorbing the chaos of the news world. Most enjoyable, I’ve found a fountain of focus to write and really dig deep into my thoughts. It’s this low-information diet that helps fuel the Bennis Inc Blog.

Ultimately, by exposing myself to far less information, I only expose myself to the right information. When I do choose to read or learn something, it is far more likely to be absorbed fully and used immediately. I‘m no longer in the business of seeking and storing information that can’t be of immediate value.  When I need information, I get it on demand. This has proven to be far more effective than reading, storing and trying to recall that same information through years and years of mental clutter. But most noteworthy is how moving away from a high-information diet has completely changed my mood, my sense of overwhelm and my amount of free time. I still fear becoming ignorant or oblivious to the outside world, but I now know this has no correlation to the amount of news I force feed myself in a day. As long as we remain hungry for knowledge and seek it out as we need it, we will stay as informed as we want to be –without the overwhelm or overload.

What type of information diet do you exist on? What do you think would change if you made the switch to a low-information diet? Share your personal experience with information overload or cutting it off completely!

 

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