With experience of being a busy B2B trade journalist, I’m familiar with a lot of the bad habits of press releases, many of which I wrote about in my recent post, what NOT to include in a press release.
But press releases are hard to get right, so I was delighted when I tuned into Smart People Podcast’s recent session on PR and Conrad Egusa, CEO of Publicize gave his top tips on how to get good PR. You can listen to the podcast here but here is what I learned from Conrad:
- Make it newsworthy. If you ask journalists to write about your company, it’s not likely to happen. Journalists need a story. Have an announcement, whether you are launching a new app, have hired new members of the team, or you are launching a new report or product, that is something a journalist can cover.
- Have social proof. Social proof is something interesting about you or your company that gives you some instant credibility. What is it about you that will help make you sound credible (Are you a Harvard Business Grad, a former exec at Facebook? Is there something about your age or background that is noteworthy?) Conrad gave the example that they covered a story about Bill Gates’ former assistant starting a company just because he was Bill Gates’ former assistant.
- Sell the benefits, not the features. Not exactly Conrad’s words, but think carefully about how you are pitching yourself. Conrad gave the example of writing about a new shared office space, but instead of talking about what they did, they talked about their vision and what they hoped to achieve. The story was about how they hoped to turn a city into the Silicon Valley of Latin America. Focusing on the benefits, the outcomes and the vision can make your story sound much bigger than it is, and a more interesting story.
- Target your emails carefully. The best way to get press releases out is still email. Don’t worry about getting your press release on Business Wire or Yahoo Finance, nobody really gets their news from there anymore. When you get specific about your business, target the trade press out there and the journalists within the publications you want to focus on. Send them individual emails explaining who you are and why you think your story is newsworthy. Make the email personal. If there is one place you know you want to be, say the Wall Street Journal, offer the journalist an exclusive. They may not take you up on it, but you are likely to get their attention.
- Make it personal. As Conrad said, there are three words journalists hate. “For immediate release” I’m sure there are more words they hate, but it screams impersonal. Tailor your emails. Write a 250 / 300 word email getting their attention, and then attach the press release.
- Send thank you follow ups. An email is okay, but if you get some great coverage, have them remember you by sending them something nice. Don’t fall foul of any bribery laws, so don’t send anything with monetary value. But a book or a cake or card will really set you apart from the crowd.
In sum, approach the press like you would approach any busy person. Get their attention, use some social proof to get your foot in the door and sell yourself.