The Press Release Remains a Public Relations Staple That Continues to Evolve
The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up the media world in more ways than one. For instance, public relations practitioners are no longer using the majority of their releases to announce events. Instead the focus has shifted to highlight brands’ corporate social responsibility and public safety initiatives. These days, most news stories about companies include information on their measures for dealing with COVID. It has been tougher to attract the attention of the news media without a COVID angle.
So, PR execs need to alter the way we write our releases to keep them current and relevant to the times and our clients’ brands, while stating a truly newsworthy take on a situation. People are eager to know how brands are responding to the pandemic, and it’s our job to fill the gap.
Press releases have not been dropped; they have just been constantly evolving from the traditional look. Reporters are bombarded all day long with news tips, emails, and alerts so it’s key to find a way to stand out with your release. Below are a few new trends and tips to apply to your next release to get noticed and get covered.
1. The basic look is out, taking with it the tired “PR verbs” you learned to use from PR 101: announces, launches and partners. Instead, move up the more newsworthy verbs that tend to get buried behind the buildup. Step outside of the ordinary and unveil the most stimulating verbs and descriptors, but also get to the point of the release by not leading with too many adjectives.
2. During a recent Business Wire webinar on writing news release headlines that drive results, the presenters brought to our attention the importance of putting the end goal in the beginning of the release. Focus on what your target audience can do with your information. That allows for the reporters to quickly understand who would be interested in the topic. Similarly, at a Cision webinar on the state of the press release, it was highly recommended to emphasize a call to action for the reporters. It helps to clarify what they can do with your information as well.
3. Lastly, the look of the release has strayed from strictly paragraphs; we try to make it “pretty” and easy for the reporter to do their job. That includes using bulleted lists, bolded text, subheads throughout, and even pull quotes – anything to break up the bulk of the copy. If the reporter is only going to read a portion, you better draw their eyes to the right one.
It is thought-provoking to hear other practitioners’ take on the forecast for PR, but it is even more significant to move with the changes each time. As a young student of PR, I was recently taught the fundamentals of the industry and the standard formatting. In the real world, I found that it is more beneficial to discover the fresh and innovative methods – and that is what I hope to impart on colleagues and clients alike.