Newsworthiness is the single most important factor in determining if your press release will get read. Below we’ve highlighted Publiqly’s Most Powerful News Hooks that will entice almost any journalist and capture your audience’s attention. If you can use one or more of these News Hooks you’ve got the foundation for a newsworthy press release.
- Tie it to a Trend. Riding the tide is a powerful tool in PR. Perhaps you can use your announcement to highlight your company’s involvement in a recent trend or news story that everybody is talking about. Are you changing your company name to focus your brand more on a hot industry trend? Use your press release to explain to your target audience why this is the next big thing. Back it up with industry statistics and if possible specific targets (e.g. this business will account for more than 60% of total sales by 2020).
- Bucking a Trend. Did you ever notice how a plot twist in a good novel or TV show keeps you up late at night? The same holds true for news and journalism. If the news media are all over a particular story, you can bet that if you came out with an announcement stating the opposite, you’ll have everyone’s attention. Journalists love the counterintuitive! Do make sure that you have a good story and plenty of facts to back up your contrarian view.
- What’s Your Superlative? Your press release should announce something that is the first, only, biggest, best, largest, tallest, smallest, newest, oldest, fastest, slowest etc. What’s unique or different about your news? Are you making a donation and is the amount of your contribution breaking records? Is this year’s edition of your company’s main event different because of an interesting new feature? Consider choosing that hook, but make sure to explain the “How” and “Why” of your superlative in the body of your press release.
- Names Make News. If you’ve ever watched the Oscars ceremony on TV you’re not the only one. Most people want to see what the latest Hollywood stars are up to. Maybe your company doesn’t have the buying power to have a Hollywood actor as your pitchman. But that’s not to say you shouldn’t take a cue from Hollywood. Imagine if you could get your mayor to come to one of your events, or an industry expert or a local sports hero. Capitalize on their star power by mentioning that name up high in your press release.
- Big Numbers Make News. This News Hook can sometimes be tied in with #3 What’s Your Superlative? But you can also pick an arbitrary but psychologically important number to lead your story with. Let’s say your company has shipped it’s 1 millionth product or you’ve just hired your 100th employee. Do make sure that your press release explains the relevance of this milestone (e.g. against the backdrop of an industry trend), so it’s about more than just the numbers.
- Talk to Your Marketing People. Usually we encourage you not to listen to the marketing people too much. Selling a product is a completely different thing than selling a story. But in some cases you might want to break that rule. Marketing people are usually quite creative and love brainstorming about stunts that draw people’s attention. Perhaps they can come up with a nice play of numbers to mark your company anniversary, e.g. by reducing prices to the level of the year of establishment. Or maybe they can create a nice stunt to highlight a celebrity endorsement. Imagine the coverage you will get if a famous football player “unexpectedly” pops up in random neighborhoods to play with underprivileged kids.
- Broaden Your Story. You could also take a more journalistic approach to your press release and broaden the story. Coming back to your company anniversary, maybe 15 years ago you were the only entrepreneur who had the courage to open a store in a street that used to be unpopular because of high crime rates and low foot traffic. Focus your press release on how you worked together with the city authorities to clean up the street and how your anniversary shows the success of that collaboration. Maybe the mayor is even willing to show up at your party? That would be great publicity, particularly if you are trying to reach local customers.
- Why now? When journalists decide what to write on, immediacy is one of the most important criteria. News has to be fresh and relevant, so timing is everything. Always check if you can tie your announcement to a trending news topic or a specific (upcoming) news event. Maybe you won a huge contract right after securing financing. Try to connect these two and see if this makes your story stronger. Alternatively, you can use the annual calendar or today’s weather forecast to find clues for news hooks. One of the best times to make your expert on water safety available to the media is probably in summer time when kids are looking for lakes and rivers to swim in.
- Localize. If you’re targeting local media, always try to find a local angle to make it more relevant to them. If your company is attending an event, can you 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? If you’re a local business looking for creative ways to reach customers, consider taking a national poll and comment on whether this applies to your region or city.
- Human Interest. In journalism, a human interest story is a feature story that discusses a person, or people, or a companion animal in an emotional way. It presents people and their problems, concerns, or achievements in a way that brings about interest, sympathy or motivation in the reader or viewer (source: Wikipedia). If a celebrity is endorsing your brand, check with him or her 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.
- Take a Stand. This News Hook works particularly well for announcements about the findings of a report, survey or poll. Sometimes the outcome of a report is outright boring and goes unnoticed until someone draws an interesting conclusion based on it. If you have commissioned a report and the outcome lacks newsworthiness, consider making a bold action statement about it: “Company X Urges Government to Do Y After Poll Shows Z”
- Visualize. In the era of viral news and social media, you should also consider creating an image to draw attention to your news. Photos can be taken from a smartphone and sent around the web in seconds. If you can tie an image to your publicity stunt, you’re more likely to reach your audience. You can also “visualize” your announcement through words. For example, consider using illustrative comparisons in your announcement to bring otherwise boring and meaningless numbers to life (e.g. “Our company saved 50 tonnes of waste last year – the equivalent weight of 12 adult elephants.”)
- Event Teaser. Are you announcing news at an event? Consider including a teaser in your announcement, so journalists are more eager to come. Perhaps 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. Please be careful with this hook. If you say that you are going to announce “big news”, it will really have to be big. Otherwise you will undermine your credibility for years to come.
- Conflict and competition. Sex, celebrities and conflict have one thing in common: they sell newspapers. But how to add an element of conflict to your press release without sparking too much controversy? In March 2017 bottled water overtook soda as the most popular beverage in the U.S. This news spread across the Internet like a flood. Why? Because the media love competition and a new leader. Check out our analysis of this press release here.
- Break With the Past. This hook is closely related to What’s Your Superlative? If your press releases focuses on a milestone event, playing up the historic element can be very powerful. It’s the ultimate dream of a journalist to “be there” when history unfolds. Don’t use this hook too easily though. If journalists feel cheated, it might hurt your relationship with them for a very long time.
We’re always trying to get better at what we do, and as you can imagine there are many ways to spice up your press release and make it more compelling to your Target Audience. If you came up with a creative News Hook that you want to share with fellow-Publiqly users or if you have any questions, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
To get the most out of Publiqly, be sure to also take a look at our full Resource Library here for more tips and tricks.