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PR Tactic: How do I send a press release?

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By Jack Murray

 

It’s a fundamental question, core to every story you work on as a PR person. How do I send a press release? Do you pitch it out, or do you send it as a press release?

Why do you do it?

In essence, the question is one of evaluation. You do the evaluation because you want to get the most coverage possible and you want to pick whichever option is going to gather you the most coverage

How do you do it?

Be very clear on the difference between the two ways to share a story.

A pitch is personalised contact with one, or a number of, journalists about a story. It is usually in the form of an email selling a particular story that you want the journalist to cover. Be very clear in your pitch whether it’s an exclusive, or you are pitching it, more widely. It’s ok to pitch widely but you shouldn’t create the impression that it’s an exclusive if it isn’t.

A press release is a short formatted public announcement sent to a media list at the same time. The information is public the minute you hit send on a press release.

Here are the key factors that you need to determine which will influence your decision whether to pitch or to send it far and wide?

What is your story about?

Summarise your story in one paragraph as if you were explaining it to a journalist. Get to the essence of what it’s about.

What type of story do you have?

You need to drill into the essence of your story. What is it about and what type of story is it?The best PR people know this area really well. Ask yourself what type of story do I have? Is it news or a feature? Is it local or national? Is it a feature or a shorter item? One really simple way to decide is to imagine you have been really successful in getting results for your story. Ask yourself where would they be? What would they look like? Who would cover the story and in what media? Maybe your story is suited to one type of media – if so what is it?

What result would you be happy with?

You should read my  previous post on the strategy of sharing a story. Ask yourself at the start – what result would you be happy with? This should dictate whether you pitch or send a press release. If you thought pitching to a single radio show with over 500,000 listeners would be successful, and a great result then you are much more likely to do it.

What assets and strengths do you have? Make sure to play to your strengths.

Do you have a great brand spokesperson who is a wonderful media performer? If you do, you have more options. Without this you might be less likely to pitch and more likely to send a press release. It might also give you food for thought as to the talent that you need to develop to execute your media strategy successfully. Also what existing relationships do you have that you can leverage. This could make it much easier.

Final checklist

  1. What type of story do you have?
  2. What is a successful outcome?
  3. What do you think the interest will be, based on the media context now?
  4. What are the internal expectations for the story?
  5. What strengths do you have?
  6. In it’s execution has it a broad appeal or is it more suited to one type of media?

 

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More About Jack

Jack is a media innovator with over 20 years’ experience at the most senior level in the Irish communications industry. He has worked in marketing, journalism, and media relations. He is a former political spokesperson and government advisor, as well as an award-winning corporate PR practitioner.

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Author

Jack Murray

CEO at MediaHQ

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