The most common mistake marketers make when creating press releases is assuming journalists write stories “about” companies. Your new business, new company president, new hire or new product may seem great to you — but the sad truth for marketers is most reporters just don’t care.
As a former TV news reporter, I can assure you most press releases news organizations receive go directly to the trash can. The few releases that do catch journalists’ eyes have a few things in common. Here are seven types of stories reporters often deem “newsworthy”.
– Studies and surveys. A company with healthy marketing budget can pay a survey firm to conduct a newsworthy survey, essentially creating news whenever they want it. For example, an apartment listing Web site could conduct a survey about how more Americans are choosing renting over buying in the current economic downturn.
– Lists. You see these stories in the news all the time: “10 Most Congested Cities,” “15 Fattest States,” “Best Cities to Start a Small Business.” Simply think of a list that ties to your business and hire a research firm to crunch the numbers. For example, a lawn care company could publish the list “20 Best Cities for Beautiful Lawns.”
– Hero Narratives. You’ll know this story when you see it. The snowplow driver who clears off a nursing home parking lot in his spare time. The fireman who removes kittens from trees. The CEO who prepares inner-city children for the management track. To identify these stories, it’s important to have open lines of communication among employees at all levels of your company.
– News You Can Use. These are often similar to list releases, but a lot cheaper — no need to hire a pricey research firm. They can often take the form of lists or bullet points. For example, “Seven Ways to Avoid Foreclosure,” “Top Tips for a Healthier Pet,” or “How to Save Money on Your Apartment Rental.”
– Legitimate News Tie-ins. To take advantage of this type of press release, you’ll need to act fast. Current events can become old news in a matter of days. Story ideas in this category include a church holding a vigil for a missing child and a company filling a truck with supplies for disaster victims.
– Far-Out Features. The stranger the story, the more likely it is to gain publicity with a press release. A local restaurant offering a $500 hamburger is the type of far-out feature story that may get the media’s attention.
– Trends. Are local rodent populations on the rise? If you’re in the pest control business, that’s a press release opportunity. Ideally, you’ll have facts and figures (bonus points for a graph) to demonstrate the trend. Be sure to include the relevant numbers in your press release.