What a Reporter Wants: Write Press Releases That Will Get Your Company Noticed: Part 2

In my last post on writing press releases, I mentioned my view that a good one will have three main elements in order to resonate with the press – a clear news announcement, a demonstration of thought leadership or expertise, and a human interest angle. These elements are not the basis for any particular writing style or format – I’m just trying to get at the thought process of your media target audience (and their audience as well).

And before I jump in here, don’t be thrown by the term “human interest”, we’re not talking about sports stars spending time with sick children (although those types of stories do really well, which is why you often see them). Human just refers to the ability to bring the big idea back down to a level that readers will relate to in their daily lives, whether that is business or personal.

A reporter who receives a new press release from your company will be looking for a few things right off the bat, like:

  1. Is there real news here that I should be writing about? In other words, can I easily strip away the marketing speak and figure out what the news is? Is it a product release? A major organizational change? An important sales win?
  2. Does this company demonstrate some kind of important expertise? If a reporter can understand that there is some interesting thinking going on beyond the announcement, you’re much more likely to get a follow-up communication.
  3. Is there a human interest angle I can spot easily? Don’t think you can give your products a personal angle? B2B software is driven by business needs, and those needs come from somewhere – an organization, a segment of the population, government, or maybe even individuals. If you’ve read a compelling article recently, whether in a business publication or general news, chances are there was a human element to it—people finding an easier, quicker, or even more fun way to get tasks accomplished. That’s because reporters and editors know that the human interest component attracts readers. Find a way to connect your news to the human interests of the people you want to pay attention to it.
  4. Did someone reach out personally to me with something more than a “please post this release to your site” mail blast? Any kind of personal communication is better than nothing, of course, but if you can demonstrate that you understand a publication (like the fact that they don’t simply re-print press releases) and offer a reporter a genuine reason to care, then you’re much more likely to get noticed.
  5. Is there a contact person listed who a)knows about the announcement and b)is ready to answer questions or at least connect a reporter with the right people in your company? It’s amazing how many times a reporter follows up on a release but gets either no response or the contact person has no idea what to do with the inquiry.

Let’s walk through an example that incorporates some of these principles. Let’s say you’re launching a new version of your software. You want to write a press release about it.

Can you hone in on one business driver that led to the new release? Perhaps changing regulatory needs?

Great, what is the new regulation doing to the industry? Let’s say it’s going to potentially add new demands to the companies in this industry that will add costs to their operations and slow down new product development.

Now, that sounds like a big deal for the industry. Good thing your company really understands this regulatory change and can offer a solution.

Do you have a client that is struggling with this regulation and is thankful for your new software release? Get a brief quote that focuses on that company’s experiences in dealing with this pain point via your new software. But remember: it’s not just about how great your software is, it’s about their experiences.

And does your company have a subject matter expert who can chime in here? You want to establish your company’s focus on this issue, after all.

And finally, since your company can explain this issue better than anyone else, your release should provide a contact who easily explain the deeper story on the impact of these regulations. Because to a reporter, the story is the impact of the regulations, not just your new release.

Now, with this terrific press release in hand, get your list of relevant publications and specific reporter contacts ready. Then send each a one-paragraph, personalized email (contact forms on web sites are okay, too, in a pinch) that explains whey they might be interested in reporting on the new regulatory needs. Make it clear how it’s impacting businesses, families, students, athletes, missionaries, or any other relevant parties. And, by the way, you have this news about a new version of your software that is helping businesses solve this need.

Don’t have a regulatory case to write about? You can apply the same approach to a business process inefficiency, a skills/hiring shortage, a social problem, a technology shift, or something else. If you can draw the connections from your products and services to the larger world, and then back down to a few individual cases where the human interest lies, you’ve got a great case for a press release you can really get some mileage from.

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