When most people talk about press releases, very few consider the protocol behind them, and even less actually have one in place. Do you? Or better said, do you know how to craft a media release protocol for a successful campaign?
Press releases are not just about good writing: they also involve good planning. Creating a protocol is a crucial part of a successful media outreach if you are going to use press releases. A protocol should help you write a press release that reaches your target effectively. Among the several aspects to consider, include the following questions:
- Who is this release aimed at?
- What do you seek to achieve?
- What is the central message?
Who is this release aimed at?
This is among the most important questions to answer. Since press releases should NEVER be used as an SEO exercise, you have to focus on people Who are you trying to influence, or to inform with this press release?
What do you seek to achieve?
After you identify your target audience, set a clear goal. What ROI do you want to see as a result of your media outreach? More subscribers to your social startup? Better attendance for an event? Brand awareness? Increased sales? You need to set a straight goal and craft your message to achieve it.
What is the central message?
Press releases are generally brief, therefore, they should only focus on ONE central message. The message should clearly state your main goal, and should be appropriate for your target audience, while helping achieve the ROI you expect.
Once you determined the answers for the previous questions, move on to the next steps of your protocol. Remember that press releases are formal public statements, and don’t treat them lightly. Consider, and keep in mind, the following:
- What are the benefits to your organization of making this public statement?
- What are the risks associated with making it?
- What disadvantage you could have from not making it?
What are the benefits to your organization of making this public statement?
You don’t always need to make a public statement to reach your target audience. There are always other ways to influence your potential customers and peers. When you do decide to distribute a press release, on any channel, what does your organization really stand to gain?
What are the risks associated with making it?
This is a tricky one. As mentioned above, press releases are formal public statements, and they can, in fact, be used against you, by the media, by your competitors and even by law. So think ahead: is there anything in your press release that could harm your organization? Can your competitors use it against you in any way?
What disadvantage you could have from not making it?
Don’t scare easily. Sometimes silence is not the best answer. There are many situations when making a public statement, even one that entails some risks, is better than saying nothing. So ask yourself: is your audience expecting you to make a public statement? If yes, should it be in the form of a press release, or should you opt for a different approach? If there are more risks and disadvantages than benefits associated with issuing a press release, you should reconsider your motivation, or better yet, don’t issue it at all.
Also add to your protocol the following:
- Assign a media spokesperson
- Accompany the press release with a good media kit including case studies and relevant data
- Prepare for photo opportunities and recurring media opportunities
If you quote anybody in your press release, he or she should also be prepared to follow up with the media for interviews, exclusives and so on. Make sure that this person is well briefed about the goals of the press release, and the risks. If the person quoted in the release is not available, have someone else ready.
Just saying something will not get you very far: you need to accompany your press release with materials that back up and support your story.
Have your spokesperson ready for media photo opportunities, or have enough images at hand to send to journalists if they request any. Ideally, you will include a couple of pictures in your press release, or media kit, but many times journalists enjoy exclusive materials.
Your protocol is not ready without a bit of planning. Be realistic and aware of media schedules, and create a media release calendar, especially if you have news releases planned for follow up, more company news, etc. Try to identify the best days to send out news from your organization, in your niche industry. Identify the correct media interested in receiving the news. It is always better to send your press release to those more likely to be interested, than to target all publications and all journalists.