I haven't blogged in a week or so and am feeling guilty - what's the point in starting if you just drop the ball? So this will be a brief reminder to all about how to get your press release picked up.
A Provocative Headline - Think like a reporter not like a client. Assume, unless you've got a very savvy media client, that their headline will suck. Remember the headline is also the title of your email message so it's what journalists and producers see in their in-box. If you spend 50% of your time on the headline and the rest writing the release consider it time well spent.
Some of the ones I've written that have worked really well:
For AAAS' Science Inside Alcohol Project
Use Science to Convince Teens a Sober Prom is Better, AAAS Says - What's good about this? It says read this now because it's the right time of year. It challenges the reporter to read the rest so they can understand it. Everyone loves prom - except those like me who were way to cool to go.
When ‘Just Say No’ Isn’t Enough: Try Science - We all remember Nancy Reagan's slogan and many of us thought it was ridiculous. But this also says - here's a new way of looking at an age-old problem. That's why it did well.
For Healthcare Blue Book
Healthcarebluebook.com: Consider Prices Before You Receive a Test, Treatment or Surgery - This was a little long but the media loved it. Why? Because all of the reporting is about people getting shocking bills after they've had the healthcare procedure performed. This is counter intuitive and reporters like that.
Healthcarebluebook.com: New Web Site Teaches How to Price Shop - OK so this was a launch which is easier but you should note that in both these headlines the name of the company is in them. Why? SEO plain and simple. If you want to get widespread exposure for a client put their name in the title. It will search far higher and helps people remember the brand.
A few more tips:
Whatever search terms you use to collect info on your client in Google Alerts should be in your releases. Use them as much as you can without sounding forced. I recently looked at a web site for a firm that uses SEO. Their site had way too much text because they were trying to search higher. A better writer could have accomplished the same with a lot less text. Use your keywords but don't sacrifice content and graphics for them.
Use a distribution service for news releases.In these days of cutting costs many companies distribute only to their media lists. But your firm isn't going to make it through many of the spam filters. The news services know how to do it and they have deals with many media outlets to pick up their releases based on keywords used. There are cheaper ways to use these services - do your local market which also picks up web and write short because you pay by the word. I know it's easier said than done but it's worth it.
Put your release in the body of the email - Never ever, ever send out a news release as an attachment to an email. Most of the better media outlets immediately send it to spam and some of them just dump it completely. That's what the filters look for. Put your info in the body of the email and keep it as short and sweet as possible. If the client insists on endless words then write a couple of bullets at the front of the release that tell the journalist why they should read it.