You’d love to make it into the mainstream media and onto reputable news sites, but because you’re working in a boring industry, they’d never take any notice of your company. True or false?
If you ask me, the answer is a resounding False! If you dig deep enough, every business has a story to tell. It doesn’t matter if your company was only established a few months back, or if your product isn’t particularly exciting or innovative. There’s definitely an anecdote, a statistic, or a story about your business that journalists will find newsworthy enough to mention in their articles. All you have to do is weave a narrative that’s compelling enough to get their attention. How do you do that? Simple — with a well-crafted press release!
What is a press release?
Wikipedia bills press releases as “written or recorded communication directed at members of the news media for the purpose of announcing something ostensibly newsworthy.” In layman terms, it’s a document distributed to the press that informs them about something exciting that’s happening within your company.
If you’re launching a new product that taps into a hot new trend or you’re the first to break through a technological milestone, disseminate this information to the media with a press release.
If you’ve partnered with a celebrity to launch a new line of products, again, go ahead and inform the media with a press release. If you’re acquiring your competitor and rebranding with a new logo, definitely send out a press release.
Why do you need a press release?
When it comes to publicity, the “less is more” adage doesn’t always apply. We’re all looking to maximize exposure for our businesses and get more people talking about our products. And one of the best ways of doing so is to increase your reach using press releases.
Let’s say you’re in the home-cleaning industry, and you and a rival company are dominating the market. You each have about 50% of the pie, and your products and services are pretty comparable in terms of pricing and quality. But your customers keep seeing your competitor’s name in the press, and in contrast, they don’t hear a single peep from you. Guess who will achieve Top Of Mind Awareness, and could eventually conquer the entire market?
You want to be that brand that gets all of the airtime. Assuming you have a great product and you give stellar customer service, your brand recognition and equity will increase, and you’ll find your sales shooting through the roof.
How to Write a Press Release in 5 Easy Steps
Even if this is your very first foray into writing press releases, there’s no need to be intimidated. Just follow these five simple steps.
Step #1: Gather Your Input
In order to craft an effective press release, you need to know all the facts and details about your topic. Go ahead and interview your most important sources. Get all the information you need by asking them questions that cover the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How.
Step #2: Determine Your Key Messages
Think about how you want people to think or feel about your company. Once you’ve identified your key messages, make yourself stick to these, and don’t lose focus. Clarity is key here: no journalist likes a press release which is haphazard and all over the place.
Step #3: Zero in on Your Target Audience
Being laser-clear on who your target audience is will help you communicate more effectively with them. This will help you decide what points to highlight, and which to leave out. Other than considering their basic demographics, also think about their habits, hobbies, underlying motivations and pain points.
Step #4: Find Your News Hook
People won’t care about your company unless you give them a reason. As a general rule of thumb, news that is timely, surprising, unique and relevant to your target audience will most likely be well-received. For the best results, try and find a News Hook that fits these criteria. We’ll get into this a bit more in the section below.
Step #5: Write
You’re at the finish line. Now all you have to do is sit down and write. You’ll need to come up with a short and compelling headline, a tightly woven story and a few other elements that we’ll elaborate on subsequently.
Want to learn more about these five steps? Click here and we’ll send you our Mastering Press Release Writing Guidebook, which will take you through each of the above steps in more detail.
7 Tips for Writing Press Releases for Boring Industries
If you’re a fashion brand, and you’ve partnered with a celebrity to release a new collection, you’ve got the upper hand right there. All the reporters will probably be clamoring to interview or feature you.
But what if you’re working in a boring, unglamorous industry and you aren’t launching any exciting new products? You can still write a powerful, compelling press release that will get you in the news – here are seven strategies that will get you started.
#1: Show that you’re on the leading edge of a popular trend
Let’s say you’re in the steel industry, which for some ranks pretty high on the list of boring industries. By associating your company or industry with a popular trend or phenomenon (which is your News Hook), you can still get your fifteen minutes of fame.
For example, you could write a press release about how your company has just become the largest recycler of steel waste in the state. All of a sudden, you’ve garnered the interest of eco warriors and people who are into living “green.” Superlatives are always a good idea as they grab the attention of the media. Just don’t go overboard and be sure to back up your claims with data and facts.
#2: Use big numbers, and highlight your milestones
Impressive or astonishing numbers are great News Hooks as well. Hamburgers are not a particularly sexy story, but McDonald’s made them interesting by updating its “burgers count” on their store signs. Sometime after 1993 when their burger count was at 99 billion they simply changed all their signs to say “billions and billions served”.
Running in the same vein, after Amazon sent out a press release to highlight its milestone of surpassing $3 billion in loans to more than 20,000 small businesses, the online retailer received global coverage of this news.
Before the press release went out, virtually no one had heard of Amazon’s lending business. After the press release, Amazon’s lending business was mentioned in articles in The Financial Times and Reuters, which propelled it into the consciousness of countless people across the globe.
If you have a few interesting statistics to share, consider putting everything together in an infographic that you can send reporters alongside your press release. The idea is to reduce as much friction as possible for the reporter. By passing along all the relevant information and presenting it in a nice, easy-to-share format, you’ll increase your chances of being featured in the media.
#3: Human interest
In journalism, a human interest story is a feature story that discusses a person, or people, or an animal in an emotional way. If a celebrity is endorsing your brand, ask whether he or she has an emotional bond with either the product or the societal issue that it’s addressing. If so, consider making it personal and let the celebrity explain why endorsing your product is so important to him/her.
When a former U.K. scientist turned 100 years old, the U.K. Defence Science and Technology Laboratory arranged for one of its oldest surviving retired employees to make a surprise visit to the site where he spent his entire working life. The laboratory issued a press release about the emotional visit, which used pictures and vivid quotes to educate people about the site’s rich history and its technical achievements.
#4: Think small and local
Bigger is not always better. In fact, sometimes the best stories about your company can be found closest to home. If you’re targeting local media, always try to find a local angle to make it more relevant to them. News outlets are always keen to cover local hiring or jobs stories.
You don’t necessarily have to be a local company to target local media. If your company is attending an event, you might want to make a statement about the success of your business in the area where the event takes place. Or perhaps you can say something about the attractiveness of this region for your industry niche.
Here’s an example: Spanish bank Santander used a local angle when it opened a Lending Center in Brooklyn in 2017. High up in its press release, Santander mentioned the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which was attended by the bank’s executives and local community members, as well as its donation to two local charities. In the grand scheme of things for a bank with billions of dollars in assets, this event would just be another branch opening, but by using the local angle it gained relevance in the community.
#5: Using conflict
Humans are drawn to gossip. And clashes. And conflict. So when you’re drafting your press release, be sure to capitalize on this!
A press release from Beverage Marketing Corp turned heads when it ascertained that Americans now drink more bottled water than soda. Apart from establishing a huge change from the status quo (which causes conflict!), this also ties into larger issues on obesity.
In a press release from Huawei the mobile phone maker capitalized on an implied conflict that almost all smartphone users know about — the battle between Apple and Samsung. The company announced that it was disrupting the market and had facts to back that up.
The Guardian was one of the many publications that leapt on the news, and it released an article titled “Huawei Launches Mate 10 Pro With Built-in AI to Challenge Apple and Samsung”.
#6: Event Teaser
Especially useful for companies who routinely participate in trade shows and events: if you’re using your press release to drum up excitement for your event, consider including a teaser, so that journalists are more likely to attend.
More specifically, you could say that your company will announce “big industry news”, reveal a new product that will help you play into a hot industry trend, or announce interesting research findings.
Here’s how PicoBrew, maker of the world’s first line of craft beer brewing appliances, did it: they stated in their press release that they would be unveiling PicoStill, the first-of-its-kind, patent-pending, craft beer brewing device at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2018.
That’s not all: PicoBrew sweetened the deal by noting in its press release that “samples of refreshing Pico-brewed craft beer from award-winning brewery partners” would be served all day, every day during CES.
A word of advice: proceed cautiously with this hook. If you announce in a press release that you will be revealing “big news” at an event, be sure that you have something newsworthy to share — or the letdown will undermine your credibility for years to come.
#7: Names Make News
It’s no secret that names make news. Most people want to see what the latest Hollywood stars are up to, and if you pitch a story that features a celebrity, it’s automatically that much more newsworthy.
For inspiration, refer to this press release by the National Limousine Association, titled Pamela Anderson Takes On Ride-Hail Apps in #MeToo Campaign. By joining forces with actress, activist and sexual violence survivor Pamela Anderson, it’s easy for the National Limousine Association to generate awareness for its “Ride Responsibly” initiative.
But what if your company doesn’t have the budget to work with A-list celebrities? There’s always the option of getting your town mayor, or even an industry expert or a local sports hero to come to your events. Then capitalize on their star power, by mentioning their names up high in your press release.
A final word on writing press releases
Press releases are an extraordinarily powerful tool, but they’re not a silver bullet. At the end of the day, you’ll need to come up with an interesting story. If you’re hoping to quickly draft a press release about a publicity stunt or a new product instead of actually putting in the time and effort to frame your business in a compelling way, you probably won’t be met with much success.
The good news, though, is that once you do get the hang of crafting press releases, you’ll find yourself securing more and more media exposure. Of course, you can’t just depend on press releases and press releases alone – you’ll also want to have a larger PR plan that deals with journalist outreach. At the same time, it also pays to echo all the media mentions that you’re getting, through your social media channels.
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett once said that it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. While that might’ve been accurate a few years back, things are drastically different now.
Today, the media work at the speed of light. The press gets a compelling press release in the morning, they immediately draft a short article for their news site, and post it. People read the story on their lunch break, and they start tweeting about it, sharing the post on Facebook, and tagging their friends in the comments. If the story is compelling enough, it could be all that everyone’s talking about by bedtime.
It might have previously taken 20 years to build a reputation. But with today’s powerful combination of social media and press releases, brands even in boring industries can now catapult themselves to the forefront of their audience’s consciousness in a significantly shorter period of time. Remember, there are so many more aspects to your business than just widgets.
Here’s the bottom line: regardless of how boring your industry is, there’s always a way to come up with a compelling story. The sooner you start pitching to the media and sending out press releases, the nearer you’ll be to achieving that highly coveted Top of Mind Awareness! Here’s a link to a free downloadable Guide on How to Write a Press Release that goes into more detail.