By: Oren Bason
The surge of financial activities during the last few years has caused the business environment to be highly competitive. Any company that wishes to succeed needs to differentiate itself from its competitors. So how can you stand out? The answer is through marketing communications activities: advertising, public relations, product promotions and other marketing activities that aim to deliver the company vision, its corporate identity and products to the target audience.
Within the marketing communications mix, public relations activities are perceived by the audience as the more objective means of conveying a company’s messages. Furthermore, it is considered a relatively inexpensive activity compared to advertising or promotions. Nevertheless, public relations has one problem, caused by the fact that an organization’s messages are filtered by the editors and writers. The difficulty lies in the ability to precisely control just how and when, if at all, these organization’s messages will be published.
The huge competition in today’s markets also generates competition for the writers’ and editors’ attention, as they sift through hundreds of messages from different sources arriving on their desk. All those sources try and convince the journalist that their news is the more important and newsworthy item of the day.
So how can you stand out and successfully enter the journalist’s heart? There is no sure and clear answer. An item that may interest one journalist may not interest another in the slightest. One of the tests of professionalism of a public relations agency and its people is the knowledge they hold about the the journalist and what interests them. A professional PR person will know how to pivot the press release title and its content in a bid to attract the journalist’s attention and will aim to pinpoint what the journalist is looking for.
I assembled some rules for transforming a press release into one that can boost its chances of targeting the journalist and securing coverage.
1. The right timing – sending a press release on a product or service at the right time will enhance its chances of getting published. For example, a release on a new anti-virus product will have more chances of getting exposure
2. Innovation – looking at the word innovation implies new things, that anything like it was not exposed or published. The journalist will find an announcement on a new product or service that did not previously exist and responds to a real need, very interesting
3. Uniqueness – If a similar product or service already exists, you will find it hard to get press coverage. You’ll need to find a unique advantage that differentiates the product or service from others, and highlight it
4. Influence – Will the product or service have an aspect that will impact many people or specific segment? If so the announcement has a good chance of getting published. For example – an announcement on a new bill payment system in Texas will be of no value to anyone in Israel. On the other hand, an article on a new local system for electricity bills online payment will be super interesting
5. Influence on health and security – press releases on security failures or health institutions mishaps, or on the flip side, announcements on health and security solutions are of interest to a wide audience because they affect everyone.
6. The first time – An announcement dealing with a first time event will solicit interest. The first landing on Mars, surrounding the world in a hot balloon, or in the business world – a collaboration contract signed between two competitors, a new business record and the like, are items that interest journalists
7. Fashion, trends or seasonal items – a hot new and up-to-date topic will always ignite interest and draw journalists to analyze and cover it from all angles. For adults topics; the Internet revolution, startups and startup employee shortages all have been hot topics the last few years. For children; scooters, skateboards and online games were highly popular topics. Other trending topics include how to protect yourself from floods, road accidents in summer, beach life savers and teachers strikes are seasonally trumping in the media
8. Emotional and heartwarming stories –For example, special love stories, amazing sickness recoveries, heroic stories, stories about people lending a hand to others, or an organization’s contribution to a community, are stories that people find an interest in them, and love to read
9. Helpful information – If the information can help people make an important decision, or avoid a fatal mistake, it will ignite interest. Surveys, statistics and research can always help the reader learn about a trend. Coverage for instance, on how to prepare your car for the winter, how to avoid tourist traps overseas, how to beat the lottery at its own game etc., will always interest everyone.
Oren Bason is the editor of the Allmarketing portal, CEO of Allmedia, a PR and marketing communications consultancy and a trainer at Allmarketing Training