Know who hates press releases?
The director of U.S. media relations for McDonald’s.
“The purpose of a press release is to announce news,” Danya Proud tells PR Daily, “but what’s news to you may not be news to me.”
Press releases, she says, make PR pros feel like they’re hounding reporters. Not to mention that they’re often poorly targeted at organizations that see them as having nothing to do with their business.
“I wouldn’t send a press release about, say, the Ronald McDonald House to The Wall Street Journal,” she said. “The Journal publishes news about businesses and what affects the bottom line.”
However, Proud says she knows the press release is a necessary evil. As a result, she offers advice for colleagues assigned to write one.
Here are five tips:
Help reporters build a foundation for their stories. Your press release should have a beginning, middle, and an end. Give them enough information to tell a compelling story and present it in an organized manner; otherwise your release might get trashed.
Write and communicate your message clearly. Use simple words and be specific about the kind of message you are trying to communicate. Are you promoting a cheeseburger from McDonald’s or a sumptuous third-pound, 100 percent Angus beef patty on a premium bakery style bun?
Tap databases of reporters. If you have access, use paid services such as Cision or Vocus to learn what reporters are focusing on at the moment.
Personalize your pitches as much as possible. Because you’ve built a great relationship with reporters—which you have, right?—you can personalize a number of your releases. Cater them to the types of stories the publication or website typically runs. Address the reporters by name; ask how they are.
Don’t bore your reader. Make the press release as interesting as possible. If you’re bored writing it, it’s probably a bore to read—and that means reporters are going to hit delete.