I’ve embarked on a series of posts on press relations and so far, I’ve covered the benefits of writing press releases and how to format them. What are the potential topics you might consider for your press release–what is newsworthy, in other words–is today’s topic. I’ll tell you soon on how to write and shape copy for your press release for maximum exposure online.
What’s newsworthy is often common sense but it can also be subjective. It’s something to think about the next time you decide to write a press release.
I’ve been asked to write press releases that were just plain goofy. Take, for example, the time a CEO of a company had one of his people hire me to write a press release about his having attended a week-long, racing-car track school. I swear I’m not making it up. Why he thought playing with his stick shift was newsworthy, I have no idea. That’s just the way some CEOs are, I guess.
Just about everything of interest to the general public is newsworthy. That’s what many dictionaries and Wikipedia articles will tell you but don’t believe it.
Increasingly, what’s newsworthy is tightly focused topics that interest narrow segments of people. It may be the audience of a particular media outlet, it may be your customers, it may even be your employees. Define your audience first and then figure out whether you have something newsworthy to say.
You should send out a release when you:
1. Launch a new product or service. Big announcements often require more than a few press releases. Shape each release, whether it’s aimed at trade journalists, bloggers, the general public, business magazines or other media outlets. Keep each release as short as possible. If you have a lot to say about your new product or service put all your releases into an online media kit.
2. Have a significant personnel change. I don’t think many people will want to know Joe moved from the plumbing department to the wood shop, unless it’s an election year. They’ll probably be interested if there’s a new senior manager on board or your company expects to boost hiring in a major way, however.
Enter into a partnership. This is another one of those events you can write about from different angles for each audience.
3. Want to put your company into context of a major news event. If a news organization reports that a major retailer lost a laptop containing all its customer records and your company markets computer security products, you might send out a release with tips on how to secure your data. Don’t be self serving. Offer genuine information followed by your boilerplate.
4. Publish an industry study. Numbers, when done properly, are fascinating to most people. Journalists eat up survey results, market studies and the like. I’m always posting that sort of stuff on my own site and so is everyone else.
5. Win an award or receive similar recognition. If one of your products comes out on top in a product review, for example, you would certainly want everyone to know it.
6. Host a special event, whether it’s a fund-raiser for charity or a Webinar.
7. When one of your employees wins an award, delivers a keynote speech or something to that effect.
8. Win a major piece of business. That one is pretty obvious.
What’s news to you is not news to everyone. Keep the audience in your sights and sharpen your message.
Timing matters. News often has a shelf life, so it get it there as soon as it happens (or before).
Coming up soon:
–How and why to write a search-engine friendly release
–Why you should always include multimedia with your release
–How and where to distribute your release: Paid vs. free distribution sites
–How to turn your numbers into prose