When your company is looking for press, what is important to remember is that your email and press release needs to sell the journalist the story, in order for him or her to write the article to an audience.
In life, however important the first impression may be, you will have the opportunity to make up for failure. This is not true with press releases.
The first sentence needs to encapsulate everything that follows it, because if it fails to do so in a convincing manner, the chances the rest of your press release get read are slim to none.
The first sentence of any press release needs to answer: Why should the reader care? This is what is referred to as the “storyline,” where a company explains what about itself or its product is important to an industry and a readership and why.
An example of a storyline is the following:
After 2 Years Of Development, Stanford PhD & Partner Raise $500K For Lingua.ly, Aim To Change Way Languages Are Learnt Online
The key is to be bold and gripping: Not overly vague, however not overly specific. Remember that you are trying to captivate that tired guy scanning his emails for compelling story material.
In one sentence, a reader/writer needs to know whether there is anything worth writing about, and whether there is a good enough story behind it to justify reading it.
One of the most important factors in your success is your ability to provide social proof in your press release. Remember to assume that journalists know nothing about you or your company.
If you graduated from a well-known school (Stanford, Harvard), worked for a certain company (Facebook, Twitter), received a certain award, or have anything remarkable about your background, you should include early on.
You can see from the story line above, that we led with the fact that this company’s founder was a Stanford PhD. Your aim to grab a journalist’s attention as soon as possible.
It ends with a lot of information
Nothing will help a writer more than if he or she feels he has all of the information needed to write a quality story (and that he or she will not need to spend additional time finding other data points).
Once you’ve provided an outline of what you think should be emphasized, you job is to provide information. As much as possible, if you provide this in an un-biased format, a journalist will consider your information more credible. If you’d like, we breakdown a specific example press release here
Approach PR with an exclusive
Modern news is a cutthroat, hectic industry, in which every publication is competing to break stories.
If you’re most companies looking for press coverage, we recommend you offer one of the more well-read outlets exclusive access to your story announcement.
A tired, overworked writer checking his email is not going to jump on any story he senses is being shopped around to 20 other tired writes just like him. However, offer him the sole chance to break a piece of original content, and you can better have his attention.
For most companies, exclusives provide the opportunity to raise profile and get coverage from the right sources.
Think of public relations like a domino set. Knock over the wrong one, and nothing happens. But get the right outlet to publish your story, then smaller ones will follow. If you’re lucky, a mainstream media outlet will pick up the coverage from the industry-specific sources they use as feelers.
Once an exclusive is secured and the article is online, we recommend you email hundreds of other publications to further coverage. If you’d like, we spent 100 hours collecting a free tech reporter contact list, with emails and Twitter handles, here
Your aim for PR is to have something important to report at least every 3-4 months. If you can do this, you won’t be in the top 10% of companies for PR, you will be in the top 1%.
Many thanks again to Scott for the opportunity to write this guest post. If there are any questions I can answer, please post in the comment section or feel free to write me at conrad (at) brownsteinegusa.com.