When should you send out a press release? You want to know my acid test? If it’s newsworthy and if it’s useful to the reader. It’s that simple.
There are many factors to weigh when considering the need to send out a press release. As a publicist I have sent thousands of releases over the years and while there are no hard and fast rules, the most important factor is that you’ve got to make sure it’s newsworthy and useful to the reader. Any thing else and it’s just a waste of time for the members of the media.
A good press release can accomplish a lot of things too. It can be used to announce information to the public, your investors, the media, your customers and even your competitors about you and your activities. To help my clients determine whether something is newsworthy I compiled a list of fifty-five press release ideas I give to them to get their ideas flowing about their own businesses. Some are for general consumer media and some may not apply to all business types.
1. Announce a new service.
2. Announce a new product.
3. Tie in with a national holiday, a birthday or anniversary.
4. Report a new study of your own and your analysis or forecast.
5. Tie in with a controversy by commenting on it.
6. Co-op an event with the media.
7. Utilize a national survey or study to your benefit.
8. Announce your exhibit at a trade show or convention.
9. Commission a survey and report the results.
10. Write a white paper and announce its availability at your web site.
11. Create and promote a special event.
12. Use a current news event to frame your release.
13. Host a seminar and announce the information discussed.
14. Announce an upcoming speaking engagement.
15. Schedule a speaking engagement at the local library… for free.
16. Make reprints of speeches available at your website.
17. Create a contest and offer a prize that’s newsworthy.
18. Pricing and policy changes.
19. Patents and trademarks.
20. Litigation won.
21. Announce the results of a new study.
22. The number of hours your employees donate volunteering in your community.
23. Involvement in various community events and activities.
24. Innovative use for your products.
25. First person stories about people using your product or services.
26. New clients you've obtained.
27. New testimonials.
28. Celebrities that use your product or service.
29. Financial projections and forecasts.
30. Announce a public appearance.
31. Appointments by government officials to offices.
32. Retirement of well respected and revered employees.
33. Recognition of long-time employees with 25 years of service or more.
34. Internal promotion of key staff members.
35. Send a letter to the editor and CC the media and your audience, “in case they miss it.”
36. New members of important committees.
37. Results of an election.
38. The passage of an important resolution.
39. Anniversary of the founding date of the organization or company.
40. Charitable donations by your organization.
41. ISO 9001certification of your company.
42. New awards won.
43. Association membership.
44. Publicly release a letter from a soldier or someone with poignant thoughts.
45. Report on a public project and offer insight to the problem.
46. Protest an activity or issue.
47. The sponsorship of a community event.
48. How to apply for internships in your company.
49. How to apply for scholarships offered by your company.
50. Open house where people can tour your plant, office etc.
51. Create an award to honor individuals in the community.
52. The appearance in front of a public entity, i.e. testimony before the US Senate.
53. Host a public debate.
54. Announce a fact finding trip and then report your findings.
55. Host a celebrity event and tie in your company.
Once you get the release written now what? How do you put it in the hands of the media? How can a company or individual know if it can handle media relations themselves or if it needs to hire a public relations firm, an independent publicist or a full fledged marketing firm? If you aren't completely certain after debating the pros and cons, ask these questions:
* Are we getting all the PR we deserve?
* Is our competition getting more than their fair share of media coverage?
* Would media coverage bring more business to the firm?
* Do we have a PR strategy for continuous year round media coverage?
* Is our in-house “PR person or department” overburdened with “in-house” work like the company newsletter?
First of all, let's define a PR firm. Some people interchange a PR firm with a marketing firm, or marketing agency, or even an ad agency. Basically a public relations firm handles media relations and is the interface between a company and the news media.
A public relations firm or publicist will “pitch” the media on a story idea involving a company, invention or author. A good pitch about a story that would interest the people who read, watch or listen to a particular media outlet gets coverage.
Many larger companies rely on in-house staff trained in public relations or marketing while others hire PR consultants or publicists to handle their PR campaigns.
Joe Nicassio, author of Guerrilla PR Brand Manager, says whether a company should conduct its public relations, marketing or advertising campaigns internally or externally should be determined by these factors"
Do you NEED solid, consistent media exposure week after week, or are you satisfied with "occasional" exposure?
Do you have the internal staff and expertise to commit the internal resources to your public relations, marketing, advertising efforts?
If you have the internal staff, and they understand Guerrilla PR principles, then there may be no reason to hire an outside agency. Paradoxically, the busier you get, the easier it is to parlay, or "set aside" consistent, important PR activities. Don't get caught in that trap!
"Public Relations is a craft that requires PASSION," says Nicassio. "You may need PR, and you may even have the people to conduct your public relations, marketing, advertising campaigns but that's not enough. To be truly effective, your PR campaigns must be conducted with PASSIONATE CONSISTENCY."