Today’s press release must often do more than raise awareness. While that remains an essential goal, the press release is also increasingly deployed to provide audiences an opportunity for engagement一the holy grail of marketing and sales these days.
When audiences engage, both consumers and brands benefit: Brand trust increases, and product design improves, to better meet customer needs. It’s a virtuous cycle model where customer satisfaction fuels growth一more recently codified in top inbound marketing, sales, and CRM platform HubSpot’s flywheel.
Here are a few tips to help improve your consumer engagement and generate the most hits from your press release.
Write Relevant, Newsworthy Content
A press release should be newsworthy rather than promotional. It should be written with intent, to deliver updates and developments and highlight their significance to the market, customers, and industry media. Ask yourself: Why should readers care about this news? Be sure you can answer this question with specifics before drafting the release.
Make Sure Your Release Is Well Written
What does well written mean? Media pros prefer a particular press release format to find important information quickly. This includes:
- A spirited and informative headline to grab the reader’s attention.
- An intro paragraph covering the five Ws: who, what, where, when, and why.
- Body content一an additional two to three paragraphs further explaining the why behind the what and other details.
- Reliable resource links where appropriate.
- At least one quote from a company leader or representative.
- Brand boilerplate language.
Well written also means clear and concise copy free of jargon, acronyms, or poor grammar. Your release should be no longer than 400 to 500 words. Check out media monitoring and analysis software company Agility PR Solutions for more information on the basics of press release writing. When people can get information easily and enjoy what they’re reading, they’re more likely to engage with the content.
Embed Multimedia Content
By most accounts, including that of creative agency Column Five Media, visual content is particularly effective in the pursuit of consumer engagement: It can pique interest before any data is actually consumed, be understood more quickly than text, and be retained more easily than words.
For today’s consumers, digital content of all types一including visual, audio, and more一is the content of choice. By seeing and hearing information, people are more likely to respond emotionally and form memorable connections to the content. According to leading U.S. business magazine Forbes, Americans spend nearly seven hours consuming digital content, every day.
Media pros also know their audiences appreciate multimedia content. Journalists will be more drawn to your content if their readers are likely to engage with it. Using multimedia elements in your press release, then, will likely improve the opportunity for more hits from both readers and journalists. For more, check out News Direct’s comprehensive piece on using multimedia assets as traffic drivers.
Consider Standalone Multimedia
In keeping with the theme of multimedia content, today’s digital consumers also prefer content in bite-sized packages they can easily consume on the go, from anywhere, and on any device. Think Twitter’s 280-character limit, the punchy impact of a good GIF, TikTok’s 60-second video platform, and so on.
A compelling, standalone multimedia piece can also provide the same high-engagement opportunity as other formats. And according to News Direct’s 2019 Market Assessment Study, 86% of journalists surveyed find standalone multimedia appealing.
Start a Dialogue With the Media Before You Pitch Your Press Release
Citing data from the U.S. Census Bureau, global public relations firm Weber Shandwick contends PR pros outnumber journalists by 6.4 to 1一a 300% increase from 20 years ago, when there were 1.9 PR jobs for every reporting job. Today, this translates into more PR pros grappling for the attention of fewer journalists, and an uphill climb to get earned media.
To stand out among the masses, develop relationships with journalists before you pitch them on a press release. Offer them something first before asking for coverage. Introduce yourself and your company, follow them on social media, and comment or share their content. When the time comes to pitch them, you’ll already have an established rapport that could make all the difference.
Consider newer journalists and staffers, too. They’re often more accessible, and may be willing to carry or advocate for your pitch internally. In addition, as they progress through the ranks, you’ll be better positioned to pitch them than others who haven’t done the same leg work.
Target Journalists Carefully Before Pitching Them
Nothing bothers journalists more than content that isn’t germane to their respective beats. According to a News Direct and PR Week survey of media experts on the PR pro-journalist relationship, 89% said "not researching the publication before pitching" was one of the more significant mistakes PR pros make.
Take the time to research media contacts in your niche industry. Get a solid understanding of their specific audiences, unique industry expertise, and particular interests and viewpoints. Check out this piece on how to pitch a press release, for more.
When you have something of genuine interest for a journalist’s audience, reach out. Journalists are more likely to respond when you have information that benefits their readers.
Target Your Press Release Distribution
Build your distribution strategy around well-researched audience segments. Identify what publications and sites your readers consume for information and news on your company or topic. This is likely to include trade press and niche outlets, in addition to larger platforms. The more specific and relevant you can target media outlets, the better chance you’ll get more hits from your press release.
Post Your Press Release on Social Media
As an added boost to your engagement tactics, post your press release on social media. According to nonpartisan research think tank Pew Research Center 48% of Americans got their news from social media at least sometimes in 2021, with Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter the three top go-to channels.
However, be sure to post the release where your target audience segments are一trade groups on Facebook and LinkedIn, for example一or use a specific, relevant hashtag on Twitter. Ensure the content is formatted correctly for each platform and easily shareable.
How News Direct Can Help Generate Hits for Your Press Release
Working with a newswire, enabling deep engagement with your press release is a must. And News Direct is a best-in-class content and distribution company designed with modern media consumption in mind. It makes increasing your chances for audience engagement a breeze.
News Direct users work efficiently within a self-directed platform (the Content Studio) that streamlines press release creation and distribution workflows with smart automation, proprietary software, secure collaboration, and greater control.
Multimedia and tabular data is easily added with a click or two一including with its original format一and without third-party intervention. You can even distribute standalone multimedia with News Direct’s proprietary Digital Asset Direct™ functionality, right from the Content Studio.
Select distribution preferences in the same platform from a premier global network of media agencies, news outlets, trade press, niche outlets, and more. From there, the user decides when to submit the press release for distribution.
Leverage News Direct’s exclusive integration with the global DB Direct™ Media Database, powered by Agility PR Solutions, to create a targeted list of journalists from more than 1 million media contacts and outlets. Then send your email pitches directly from the Content Studio.
Finally, News Direct uses a flat-rate, asset-based pricing model that’s simple and fully transparent一for a fraction of the cost of mainstream newswires.