A press release is part of the whole public relations process, but it will only help your business if you keep a few things in mind.
Your phone is silent. Your email is empty, and there are no text messages from your sales team. You carefully crafted a press release announcing your new HVACR service and distributed it to the media, but all you hear are crickets.
What happened? Why is it so quiet? Shouldn’t reporters be contacting you?
Well, first of all, congratulate yourself for taking the initiative to promote your news and venture into the world of public relations. These communications can give you a competitive edge and boost sales, awareness and credibility cost-effectively.
But remember, a press release is only a part of the whole public relations, or “PR,” process which involves planned research, strategy, execution and follow-up. It’s a communication tool that works with your overall marketing, promotion and business plan.
In fact, a press release will only help your business if you keep a few things in mind. Here are three questions to ask before you write a press release.
What do you want to accomplish?
This may seem simple but it’s important. Stop and think about your message. What do you want to convey and why? While you want to promote your news, remember that your messaging should stick to your overall business model, tone and style.
Think about your end goal. Once you know what you want to communicate, figure out whom you want to hear it and how you will get your specific message to them. Are you going to send out emails, use a press release distribution service, post on social media, etc.?
It’s also important to decide how you are going to monitor results. This is a key step that many businesses forget. After all, if you don’t have anything to track to reach a specific goal, how will you know if your press release was successful or made any difference?
For example, you can use a specific website link, phone number, email and more that is unique to the release to track responses. It’s also wise to create a database of the media members, potential customers, new partners, and more that respond immediately after your release goes out. Then, you can communicate with them in the future and grow positive relationships.
Decide on the best way for you and your team members to track results and how you will define success for your press release.
Why will people care about your news?
When developing your news message, think about your audience. Why will your audience care about what you have to say? It’s essential to provide value rather than a sales pitch or just a news announcement.
Whether you are ready to introduce a new product or service, discuss an acquisition, invite people to an upcoming event or something else, talk about the benefits for others. For example,
- Will you help your audience solve a particular problem?
- Are you assisting the local community in some way?
- Does your news mean something to the HVACR industry as a whole?
If you send out a sales message that doesn’t provide value, your press release will probably be deleted immediately (maybe this is why you didn’t get any responses from your release last time).
Also, remember to keep it simple. People are inundated with thousands of news items every day so stick to one key message that is easy to understand.
For samples, conduct online searches and see what your competition, businesses you admire and others in the industry are doing. What kinds of press releases do they distribute?
The official press releases on CISION PRNewswire and BusinessWire provide great examples and give you a good idea of where to start.
These usually follow the Associated Press Stylebook for structure, punctuation, grammar, style and more. Note that many of today’s press releases, however, are written in a more relaxed, story-like style to capture attention. It all depends on your products and services, target market and the message you want to convey.
Now, if you simply have no idea how to write a good press release (or distribute it), hire an experienced publicist to help you create and promote it.
Yes, this costs money, but it’s well worth the expense. When you leave your PR strategies and tactics to the experts, you can focus on your core responsibilities and are more likely to see better results. But most important, you avoid making a bad impression, losing potential customers to the competition and wasting valuable time and resources.
What do you do after your release goes live?
After you distribute a press release, you can learn a lot from your data. Look at the tracking mechanisms you set up in advance:
- Did a lot of site visitors click on your link to obtain more information?
- Was there an increase in calls from the media or potential customers?
- Were there more comments and shares on your social media accounts?
The answers will tell you how, when and where people reacted to your press release. You can see what worked best and what didn’t work at all. This is valuable information you can use the next time you plan a news announcement; you’ll know what to focus on, where to make improvements and how to get your message across more effectively.
For example, if you received new orders from the unique landing page link that was in the press release, you’ll see that this process was successful. If a lot of site visitors clicked on this page but didn’t make a purchase, you can edit your content or use a different offer next time for better results.
Also, if the media talked about your news, you know that you provided valuable information to reporters at just the right time. If you didn’t get any media coverage, you’ll need to conduct more research and develop a better message for your next release.
Part of the Whole Process
Press releases are a communication tool you can use to get the right message out to the right people at the right time.
To be a positive part of your overall public relations’ process, develop specific goals, tactics and tracking mechanisms for each news announcement you have. Then, you can see exactly what works best, make the appropriate changes and create future press releases that help you reach your overall business goals.