Lee Groeger - 08/05/2022
The truth is, sometimes, there’s just isn’t anything really newsworthy going on with a company. “Business as usual” is not a unique condition; in fact, I think it’s probably more the rule than the exception. It’s also a big reason why working with a good PR team that understands positioning strategy is so valuable–so when things are quiet, the wheels are still in motion to find or create news that can result in press coverage. But when you do have big news (so exciting!), it’s important that you understand how, when, and where to leverage it. That’s where we come in!
Write a press release…maybe.
Those who say “the press releases is dead” are wrong. Press releases aren’t dead, they’re just not needed for every piece of news that comes from a company. And they never were. They are exactly what they have always been: a tool for providing media with the background information they need to write a story.
Some outlets—especially smaller ones with less staff—do sometimes run a press release as is, and the same may happen in a last-minute situation. As newsrooms have shrunk in recent years, an argument could certainly be made that press releases are actually more valuable than ever.
The bottom line is, depending on the type of news you have, you may or may not need a press release; sometimes, a simple pitch does the trick. Whoever manages your company’s PR should understand and employ best practices for securing press coverage in various scenarios.
While your news is exciting and relevant to your constituents—employees, board members, investors, customers—it doesn’t always have the same appeal to members of the press. When you are very close to a project, person or initiative, it can feel like everyone is sort of orbiting around it. When you’re laser-focused on something (often because it’s your job and you need to be!), the best thing you can do is take a step back from it before you think about how to introduce it to other people.
When thinking about presenting news to the media, the most helpful thing to remember is that they are writing for their audience. So, ask yourself questions like, “Who will care about this?” “Why will they care about this?”; “Why should they care about this now?”; “What part of this will they care about most?” This will help inform how, when, and with whom you share your news.
Consider wire services.
Newswire services are, historically, an effective medium for distributing certain news items; I repeat, certain news items. This piece of advice comes with a big caveat: distributing news via newswire is not appropriate for every news announcement. These services are used as a tool to secure press coverage, increase brand awareness, and boost search engine rankings. Any, all, or none of these things may happen, and because most proven newswires often come with a hefty price tag, it’s incredibly important to be discerning when it comes to deciding whether to include this as a tactic in your communication strategy.
The menu of options that comes with putting outa newswire announcement is pretty big. There is a base price that allows for distribution of a press release with a limited word count to a limited audience. The options and pricing grow from there, depending on how many more words you add, whether or not you want to include visual aids, where you are sending the news (locally, regionally, domestically, internationally), if you are targeting specific beats or demographics, whether you want the news shared via social media, and more. You have a lot of control, which is great, but this is a scenario where you get what you pay for.
Some journalists do check newswires for story ideas, which puts a big check on the “pro” list, but often, the deciding factor behind whether or not a news announcement or story idea gets plucked from the wire is timing. That’s not to say it’s a matter of luck; quite the contrary. The timing of your news should be one of the leading, if not the leading factor in your announcement strategy.
With big news comes big decisions, and hopefully big opportunities! Start by figuring out what your main objective is. Whether it’s raising brand awareness, driving website traffic, getting coverage in a specific media outlet or something else entirely, decide what is the most important think you want to accomplish. Then, attach a budget and an action plan.
Do you have something big coming down the pike, or just want to be prepared for a future occasion? Thinking ahead is the first step. The next step? Talk to me, or someone like me (but…probably me, right?). Consider this your open invitation.