Public Relations: All About Press Releases -- and Your Other Options
A press release is one of the most basic building blocks for public relations. It's also one of the most misunderstood and misused things in the business. When should you write them? When should you use a different tool? How long should they be? What are the other options?
Writing a press release is easy. Writing a release that reporters and editors actually use, now, that's much tougher. And much more worthwhile. Most releases get ignored by the media. This post walks you through the typical bad press release, explains where it goes wrong, and shows you a better way. It also exploded the myth that all press releases are supposed to be the same: the same length, the same style, the same everything.
Unless you're doing your own PR, a boss or client will tell you, "I want a press release." You'll hear it a lot since everybody knows two phrases from the business: "press release" and "press conference." The problem is, what they really want is press coverage. They don't care how you get it for them. And a press release is often the wrong tool for the job.
One of the best alternatives to a press release is a statement. It's quicker to write and easier for reporters and editors to use since they simply put quotes from the statement into their story. Think about all the Tweets from pro athletes, politicians and rock stars that you see being quoted these days. Those are simply 140-character micro-statements.
Using Statements in Public Relations
Now that you know how to write statements, how can you put them to use? This post shows you the best ways to apply statements, which are one of the fastest ways to respond to a breaking story and tailor-made for posting on the web or your blog.
A fact sheet is another basic building block in public relations, where you often have to simplify complicated issues, educate the press and public about a controversy or correct the record. But fact sheets aren't simply a page of a bullet after bullet. To be truly effective, they need structure and purpose. This post helps you avoid the common pitfalls in writing fact sheets.
If you've watched a political show like the West Wing, or follow politics at all, this is a phrase you hear all the time, in sentences such as, "Get off your talking points." Talking points are meant to give people a quick and easy way of staying on message and getting the right points across. They're not meant to be read word-for-word, and may not be read at all. You can use them as seed material for other things: letters, speeches or a press release.
Using Talking Points
Talking points are versatile. This post shows you examples of when and where to use them. They're particularly good for radio and television, which deal in soundbites, and for prepping somebody before any sort of interview or press conference.
Why A Story Kit Is Often Smarter Than A Single Media Product
One of the reasons reporters don’t like press releases is the fact it's a finished product. It looks like a story. Nobody went to journalism school to rewrite press releases all day. What they really want are the raw materials, so they can write their own story. Give them those raw materials with a story kit. Send them a statement to mine for quotes and a fact sheet for the basic facts. Or give them a blog post and a photo. A story kit could be any combination of products that make it easier for the press to cover the story.