Press releases and media pitches are essential tools in Public Relations. Both play a different role in the grand scheme of things. If you’re planning for a campaign, you might be torn between utilising a press release or a media pitch to spread the news. To understand which one works better, we first have to understand how both work in the first place.
A press release is a write-up done by brands to announce their initiatives to the media and public. Typically, press releases are disseminated to the local media, as the relevance of local initiatives usually piques their interest. A press release is almost always accompanied by a press kit that contains additional information and images describing the announcement. Editors and journalists will usually refer to the press release for their write-ups or will publish it as is.
A media pitch is a short write-up on a current trending issue and how a brand — usually through a key spokesperson- can provide valuable information to the public through virtual or physical media interviews. With virtual interviews now becoming a norm in this COVID-19 period, brands are able to effectively share their communications despite being in separate countries.
What is a Press Release?
Press releases are a PR practitioner’s best friend. It is one of the core fundamentals of a PR strategy. It is meant to build brand awareness, garner attention from your target audience, and to convert that attention into positive public opinion.
How to write a Press Release
Before you even begin your writing process, you’ll need to decide on an angle for your press release. Craft a story surrounding current issues, a gap in the industry, or even a breakthrough! This step is considered the most important step as it sets the tone for the rest of your press release.
Step 1: Start with an interesting headline.
A headline usually consists of 8 -15 words, make sure that your message is communicated through the headline. Think of it as a super-condensed summary of your press release.
The headline should also be interesting and factual, with the most amount of information communicated through the least amount of words. Think of it as the first impression of your story, an interesting headline can keep the reader hooked from start to finish whereas a bland headline could bore the reader from the get-go.
Here’s an example of a good headline for a press release:
Environmentally Friendly Cups for Earth on Earth Day
The headline should tell the press why they need to cover the story, and why they need to cover it now.
Step 2: List down the specifics.
State the dateline, include the name of the city in which the news originates from and the current date.
Step 3: Craft the story’s layout.
Your first paragraph should include 5W1H. This is important because it allows readers and journalists to understand the core messages of your article, set expectations, and get a general idea of your campaign.
Include quotes from your spokesperson (founder, managing director, someone that holds a position of power) to further strengthen your messaging and credibility.
Step 4: Don’t forget a call to action.
After all that reading, assuming that your readers or potential customers are interested, where can they find your company? How do they reach out to you?
A call to action typically includes the date of release of a product, event, so on and so forth. Be sure to provide the website and email address of your company for readers who would like to find out more.
Last but not least, include a boilerplate. A boilerplate is a short paragraph about your company, basically an “about us” section for the media to get a better understanding of your brand.
Don’t overpopulate your boilerplate with jargons, keep it short and simple. You could use bullet points if you think it helps.
Do’s and Don’ts of a Press Release
According to Buffer, social media marketing is when businesses use social media platforms to see the conversation around their brand (social media listening) and responding to relevant comments (engagement).
To understand how it’s performing on social media platforms, these entities could also analyse its reach, engagement, and sales via analytics. These analytics, in turn, help the organisation create and run highly targeted social media advertisements.
Make Sure Information Is Accurate
Include An Interesting Headline
Defame An Opposition Brand
Evaluate Whether It Will Be Interesting
Populate Your Press Release With Jargon
Send It To Relevant Media
Be Too Long-winded
Personalise Your Press Release
Sound Overly Promotional
Follow-up With The Media
Send The Press Release In A Timely Manner
Do make sure that all information in the press release is accurate. If any timeline is included, please follow through on time.
Do include an interesting headline. The headline is oftentimes the first point of contact between the editor and the press release. An interesting headline piques interest which can keep them engaged
Do make it interesting for the media. Remember, the goal of a press release is to garner interest from the journalist/media. If they nod off halfway through reading your press release, chances are they won’t be interested in your story at all!
When drafting, take a step back to evaluate whether it will interest your readers. Imagine you are in their shoes, will they be compelled to read it??
Do send it to relevant media. If your press release does not relate to their target audience, i.e. F&B news to an automotive publication, most likely the journalist won’t even bat an eye and just toss it in the bin.
Do personalise your press release. Journalists and editors receive tons of emails daily. Adding personal touches into your email body is always a nice gesture. Subsequently, you can go through some of their previous materials to get an idea of what they cover and see how your brand can bring value to their publication.
Do follow-up with the media regularly. Remember, journalists get a LOT of emails every single day. Unfortunately, some of the emails might get overlooked, so sending a follow-up email —or WhatsApp message if you’ve built a good working relationship with the journalist would be a good way to ensure that they have seen your email and responded accordingly.
Do include images in your press release. A picture is worth a thousand words, and as much as we love writing, there are times where a simple image is all that it takes to relay a message.
Do send the press release in a timely manner. New events happen every day. If your event happened a month ago, chances are the journalists won’t be interested in your press release.
DON’T spread misinformation. The last thing you want for your brand is for people to think that it is not what it set out to be.
With social media, instead of just investors or business partners, more people are reached which can include customers and the curious who are just as important to the success of a business.
Social media makes PR messages more friendly and conversational to their target audience and this has led to the rise of ‘relationship marketing’. This is a strategy that companies use to retain their customers and seem warmer and more approachable to their audience, no matter the industry.
DON’T defame an opposition brand. Taking a jab at other brands might sound like an interesting way to raise public opinion of your brand. However, no matter how intense the rivalry between you and your rival company is, it’s important to remember that this press release is ABOUT YOU, not your adversaries. Instead of berating their product or services, talk about how yours differs from the rest.
DON’T use jargon. If jargon is unavoidable, make sure to provide enough information and explanation so that journalists and readers don’t get confused or lost. Again, put yourself in their shoes, understand that not everyone has the same level of expertise as your company and unnecessary mumbo-jumbo could potentially bring more harm than good.
DON’T sound overly promotional. A press release is meant to raise awareness and generate interest from the public. While interest MAY translate to more sales at the end of the day, the main purpose of a press release is to get people to grow fond of your brand/company.
What can Press Releases do?
A press release is an effective way to raise awareness towards your brand, start conversations and discussions. It allows you to communicate your message and story to the public in a concise manner.
Aside from that, a press release can be used for mass dissemination. Since all the needed information is included in the press release, editors and journalists can edit the document based on their preference and needs.
What Press Releases CAN’T do?
While press releases are powerful tools to garner interest and get the public speaking about your brand, it does NOT guarantee sales of your product or services! Understanding that not every publication (relevant or not) will be interested in your story and that rejection is part and parcel of the job. Instead, pour your efforts to make the press release even more interesting to attract more attention from the media.
What is a Media Pitch?
Similar to press releases, a media pitch is a write up that is sent out to the media, informing them of an upcoming event or announcement. However, media pitches differ from press releases in the sense that they urge the media to have a conversation with one of the founders or directors of the company, to put the person in the limelight, and to position him/her as a leader in the industry.
Do’s and Don’ts of Media Pitches
Include Facts About Your Spokesperson
Give Out Too Much Information
Include Talking Points Or Questions For The Media
Be Too Demanding Towards The Journalists
Include Links To Sources
Annoy The Media
Have Regular Follow-ups With The Media
Decide A Date With The Spokesperson For An Interview
Media Training With The Spokesperson
Thank The Media
Do include facts about your spokesperson. Provide a summary of his/her experience and why this person’s opinion matters.
Do include talking points or questions for the media. This takes the pressure off their shoulders and allows them to formulate inquiries around the aforementioned questions.
Do include links to sources. As media pitches are shorter and more condensed than press releases, you don’t have the luxury of time to explain everything to the media, therefore adding additional links to your sources for further reading could increase your credibility. Even better if you could cite an article from the publication that you’re targeting!
Do have regular follow-ups with the media. As mentioned earlier, journalists and editors receive hundreds of emails in a single day. Therefore, do follow up with them to make sure that they have at least acknowledged your media pitch.
Do discuss with your spokesperson on his/her availability before locking down a date for the interview. This allows the journalists to plan out their schedules for the interview as well.
Do train your spokesperson. If your spokesperson is not media trained, it is always a good idea to take out some of your time to brief them through the do’s and don’ts whilst dealing with the media.
Do thank the media for the interview. Let them know that you appreciate their time and effort and do not hesitate to reach out to you for additional information.
Don’t give out too much information. A media pitch is meant to spark interest from the media, and eventually get them to interview your spokesperson. Therefore, only include the necessary information to get them hooked. Once an interview opportunity is secured, the media personnel can dive deeper into the topic through their questions.
Don’t be too demanding towards the journalists. Understand that they too have their own set of tasks and agenda for the upcoming weeks or months. Try to work out a suitable timing instead of asking them to make changes to their timetable.
Don’t annoy the media. While you might be excited to know when your coverage is to be published, they might have no set date for the release yet. So sit tight, and keep your eyes peeled!
What can Media Pitches do?
Similar to press releases, media pitches are used to raise brand recognition. As your spokesperson appears in the media as a thought leader, more people will gravitate towards him/her and by extension, your brand.
Provide exclusive interview opportunities for the media. One of the benefits of utilising a media pitch is that questions from journalists typically differ, which means that coverages from publications are unique and one-of-a-kind.
What Media Pitches CAN’T do?
A media pitch is essentially a short write-up to entice media personnel to conduct interviews with your company representative. It is not meant to be published as an article on the news. So your best bet would be to make it as eye-catching as possible and hope that the media will be intrigued by your pitch!
While both press releases and media pitches try to achieve the same goal, they both work differently. One garners interest through storytelling whereas the other through media appearances.
At the end of the day, both press releases and media pitches aim to achieve the same goal – to raise the public’s awareness towards your brand and to share an announcement with your audience.
Of course, there will be instances when a journalist asks for a press release when you’ve initially sent over a media pitch, or vice versa. Fret not! Once you’ve prepared one of the documents, the other one can be converted easily to match the media’s request.
But wait! Aside from press releases and media pitches, there are supplementary materials that could be used to complement your story/campaign to make it look more appealing to the media.
A press kit is a set of materials nicely packaged into an easily accessible file or folder. It is meant to ease the job of the media by providing additional information as well as to keep media interest warm. Here’s an example of a great press kit from https://unsplash.com/press
Depending on the campaign, a press kit could include, but are not limited to, these materials:
- Press release (translated to Malay or Chinese versions for respective media publications)
- Speech transcripts
- Fact sheets
- Company background
- High-resolution pictures of founder and founding team members
- Clips of movie
- Media gifts
A fact sheet is a document jam-packed with information regarding your company, business, product, service, that could provide the media with a better understanding of the topic at hand. Remember, information is of utmost importance and it is important to always lay your cards on the table for the media and journalists rather than leaving them in the dark.
A media invite, also known as a media advisory, is a short write-up to…you guessed it, INVITE the media to attend your event! Media invites are typically one to two paragraphs long, shorter than a press release, but containing all 5W 1H and necessary information.
Similar to press releases or media pitches, media personnel receive hundreds of them on a daily basis. So, be sure to make your media invite as attractive as possible to pique interest and to stand out from the rest.
That’s all for this month’s article, we hope that it helped shed some light on these articles. All the best to you for your campaign and may you smash all your coverage goals.
Media outreach can be done through many ways, it is essential to choose the right way to approach the media. A proper media outreach strategy not only saves you time, it gives you the best bang for your buck.
Are you interested in reaching out to the media to feature your business? Ask our friendly consultants how they would do it!
Previously, any news about an organisation came directly from within the organisation which then goes directly to news media which then reaches their audience. As social media has developed, communication has now branched out into different directions.
Those who view or read traditional media stories can also share it on their own platforms. Your targeted segment of the general public, customers, and potential customers can also communicate with each other about your company on top of engaging with official media stories put out.
Not having a strong social media presence would cause your company to be left out of the conversation revolving around you. Thus, it’s important to use social media to reach both your domestic and also international audiences.
This is where social media managers come in. They are members of the team who will set up and manage your social media platforms and work with the PR team on how your company should sound like on social media.
To foster engagement with your audience, ensure that they’ll be able to reach you via your website and also social media accounts.
Having a sound social media and PR strategy will help you have a better feel of how your company’s perceived online, catch a crisis and manage it quickly, control your messaging, and drive more traffic to your website.