What is a press release? The idea behind it is simple: to alert the media to your product or brand, who will then share it with their readers, gaining you free publicity. Traditional press releases are, to be honest, pretty boring. But I’ve found a way to build on the old model to make your press release sing.
Fact: Everyone loves a great story
We are conditioned to perk up our ears at a good story. As a child you probably heard hundreds of stories at bedtime, in school and at the movies. One thing they all have in common is a narrative flow that draws the reader in to wait for the pay off.
When you use your press release to tell a story, you’re giving journalists and editors something they want to read, and in turn share. Your story can be about how your product gives back to your community or how it helped a customer simplify her life. What ever your story, I have some basic tips to help yours float to the top of the pile.
How to tell a story that can’t be ignored
All good stories have a three parts:
- The beginning: Introduce the situation. The situation is the hurdle to be jumped, the problem to be solved.
- The middle: Where you come in with the solution, i.e. your product or an action your company took.
- The end: What happened after you stepped in and why was your product key.
Great stories are about people, not things. Make your story engaging by including quotations from yourself, as brand ambassador, relevant customers or other players in your story. A good quote does more than just share information – it articulates an action.
For example, “We decided to donate $1 from each of our Earth Day sales to the nature conservatory to educate our customers on the importance of protecting the environment.” In one sentence you’ve said what, how and why. And offered journalists a key hook for their stories.
At the end of your press release, include your contact information. Daily journalists work on tight schedules, so be sure to check your email and phone messages promptly, or risk missing a chance for publicity. And don’t forget to follow up on your press releases about a week later. Journalists and editors get a lot of email, but a quick follow-up can put you back on their radar and on the priority list.
I’d love to hear how you use press releases, and what stories have brought you the most success. Share you experiences in the comment section.