Question: What do stories in the National Enquirer have in common with a well-written, effective news release?
Answer: Quite a lot.
The late Generoso Pope, founder of the Enquirer in the 1950s, learned a few attention-getting principles early-on which quickly helped the sensational tabloid reach record-breaking circulation records.
Whether the subject was two-headed babies (which, by the way, have been absent from the publication’s content for decades) or a new arthritis treatment, Pope knew that whatever the topic, any Enquirer article needed to do the following:
• Grab readers with a catchy opening sentence.
• Entertain or inform readers without overwhelming them with too much information.
• Pack the salient facts into a compact, easily-digested format that left a big impression with a minimum investment of time on the part of the reader.
Surprisingly, when you incorporate these qualities into a news release about your company or product, your chances of grabbing an editor’s attention increase dramatically.
Because editors are people, too, who need to be “grabbed” to keep their attention, especially since dozens of news releases are crossing their desks daily. You have roughly ten seconds to stand out in the crowd by enticing them to read on, or you can guess where your painstakingly-crafted communiqué will end up.
A Big Mistake
One of the biggest mistakes people make when sending out a news release is not figuring out what aspect of their business would be interesting to the media’s audience – or writing something so self-serving that no one beyond the end of their driveway really cares.
Announcement news releases have their place, of course. If you have moved or hired someone new or are introducing a product, the format is pretty cut-and-dried – and dry. But these releases are treated accordingly, usually getting an inch or two somewhere on a “business news” page.
The ideal result from a news release is to get an article written about you (or a news/feature item about your company broadcast) or to have your news release appear as an article.
Because free media publicity gives you more credibility than you could buy with $10,000 in advertising. It says that the media see you as legitimately newsworthy, as an expert source and as someone with a valuable product or service of interest to their audience.
When you decide to put out a news release, keep these tips in mind:
• Ask yourself, what is it about my service or product that sets it apart from my competitors and has mass appeal? I suggest polling people outside your company as well, because you may be so close to the subject that you don’t even know the answer.
• Keep your news release short – no more than two pages double-spaced. If you can’t tell your story in that space then you’re either being too wordy or trying to cover too much at once.
• Think of a bright, enticing introduction that is NOT blatantly self-promoting.
• Avoid grandiose words (like "grandiose").
• Stay away from trite, overused words like “fabulous” and “wonderful.” Stick to the facts.
• Include the name and number of a contact person who will be available to respond readily to media inquiries.
• Make follow-up calls. You’d be surprised how many people say they never received the news release or who tell you they were planning to call but misplaced the release.
• Hang tough if you don t get the results right away that you hoped for. It often takes several attempts to score a “hit.” A series of well-planned news releases over a period of a few months will often pan out eventually – as long as that media’s audience is potentially interested in what you do.