Much has been said about how to write effective press releases, and we certainly won’t be the last ones to discuss the topic, but we’re constantly working with our HR Marketer members to help them craft “newsworthy” releases, target appropriate HR industry trades and other publications (and the journalists), and discuss PR strategy in general.
The following are helpful press release tips that we share with our members everyday, followed by some valuable personal tips from HR and workforce editors themselves.
Good luck to you!
KEYS TO AN EFFECTIVE PRESS RELEASE
Carefully Select Your Publications
- Know your publication and make sure you are contacting the appropriate journalist for your news. If you sell recruitment services, don't send your release to a journalist who only covers workers compensation.
- If you are unfamiliar with a particular publication, research it or contact an editorial assistant at the pub. Ask for a copy of a recent issue and a media kit.
Headline and Subject Line
- Write a short introduction before the release – remember to make the intro generic, since you’ll most likely be sending the release to a variety of publications. If you are sending a release solely to a specific journalist, write a personal note and explain why the release is newsworthy and applicable to that specific publication.
- Write a headline that succinctly and actively conveys your core message. Since most releases these days go out via e-mail, this also pertains to your subject line.
- Write a lead sentence and opening paragraph that directly states the most compelling and important information of your release. It should capture the what, where, why and how. Be on point: each paragraph should contain and communicate one cogent thought.
- Take a step back and ask: if I were a writer on deadline, would this be worth writing about? It is newsworthy? Finding a local (if regional release) or timely angle will improve your chances of pickup.
- Identifying and associating your announcement with a broader trend will improve chances of coverage in more prominent, national media outlets.
- Style counts. Avoid clichés, jargon and superlatives. Write in the active tense. Avoid typos. And make sure the layout conforms to accepted formatting conventions.
Remember that successful PR does not happen overnight. It's a process of relationship building over time, while creating a steady drumbeat of “newsworthy” news about your organization. Making one wrong call insufficiently armed with even the most basic information is enough to stall a relationship before it begins.
- Do not attach files as most journalists will not read them and many firewalls block them. If you have a white paper, case study, research findings, etc. consider providing a URL in the email that link to these "attachments.”
TIPS AND ADVICE FROM HR AND WORKFORCE EDITORS
Carroll Lachnit, editor, Workforce Management magazine
Workforce Management focuses on issues, and does not cover new product announcements or publish reviews. To pitch a product or technology solution, offer a story where a customer used the product to solve a problem or overcome a challenge, and have a manager at that company ready to speak with one of the Workforce staff. A brief mention of a product in the right context can have just as much, or even greater impact, than a news brief or story. When you send releases, don't make them look fancy – the content should be enough to capture their attention.
David Shadovitz, editor, Human Resource Executive
Midweek days are best when sending releases, but they try to review all releases that they receive. It’s most important that your release has a concise subject heading and lead paragraph that quickly summarizes the news value of your announcement. Don’t bury your news in a lower paragraph. E-mail is fine for sending releases; faxed releases have largely become a waste thanks to junk mail. Employer branding on a global scale is currently a topic of interest. To learn about staff members and their coverage topics, review the magazine website, which is frequently updated.
Joanne Wojcik, senior editor, Business Insurance Magazine
If you’re pitching a story, be familiar with her coverage topics – HR compensation and benefits. Review the Business Insurance website or some sample print copies if you have questions. She'll review press releases via e-mails most any day, but Fridays are not preferred. She writes not only for the weekly magazine, but also for their online site, so she has ongoing deadlines and her time is valuable. Don't call to make sure your press release arrived safely! If a release isn’t the right fit for her coverage area, she will relay it to the person who is.
Jill Elswick, Employee Benefit News
Jill is an associate editor for the weekly magazine, and also edits their Benefit Connect online newsletter. They try to read all press releases, and Mondays and Wednesdays are good days to submit them via e-mail. They are most interested in talking with benefit managers and HR managers who can speak to issues that their readers also face. Again, don’t call to see if they received your news release or story pitch – if she’s interested, she'll contact you.