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10 tips for effective press releases in the digital age

Reports of the premature death of press releases have been overly exaggerated.

I was with a travel writer friend a couple weeks ago, and she was lamenting the fact that she hardly ever receives real press releases from tourism destinations any more.

“I think that these young PR people think that just posting a blurb on Facebook or a Tweet on Twitter replaces an actual press release,” she said.

Well, my friends, press releases are still relevant and useful.

You should write and distribute press releases to:

  • promote new products and services
  • announce the hire of new personnel
  • announce awards and recognition
  • come clean during a crisis with factual information
  • provide details on an upcoming program or special event

Press release exampleThe press release is still a valuable tool to provide information to the media and the public. It is also the principle means of fair disclosure for corporations. A press release is more formal than a social media post, so it is more credible and is seen as coming directly from the management or leadership of a company or organization.

Here are some tips on crafting good releases:

  1. Use relevant keywords because it will help with search engine optimization on your site (SEO).
  2. Follow up with a phone call to the media outlets where you most want to see the release published or broadcast and provide another snippet of information to the journalist.
  3. Be sure that everything in the release is factual, truthful, relevant and timely. If it’s about an event, be sure to allow enough lead time (at least six weeks in advance).
  4. Provide email and phone contact information for the contact person and be sure that person is available when the release is received by the media.
  5. Provide a photograph or piece of artwork that will illustrate the release. If a newspaper uses a photo, it’s more likely to get placed ‘above the fold’ which is a more desirable placement.
  6. Include a boilerplate paragraph at the end of the release with some background and history on the organization, as well as a link to a website.
  7. Proofread and proofread again. There’s nothing worse than a release riddled with typos. Messiness like this erodes at your credibility as a PR person, as well as that of your organization.
  8. Include at least one quote from an official at the organization or company to express what this news means to the company.
  9. Be sure to carefully research your media list and make sure you are targeting media people who will actually be interested in your news.
  10. Be sure to update your list if there are bouncebacks after you send out your release in order to prepare for the next time you distribute a release.

Writing and distributing press releases is sometimes seen as something that can be done by interns or low-level professionals but it is actually a critically important job function and should be handled by someone with experience, expertise and professionalism so as to give a good impression of your company or organization.

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