More than 50,000 stories were published with Prezly last year. Here are some practical steps you can take today to improve your PR performance.
After 10 years in the world of PR, we like to think we know what makes a great press release – not because of our own ideas of what makes a good story, but because of what our thousands of clients with their hundreds of thousands of press releases have proved to work.
Here are the top 4 things you can learn to do right now to get your news noticed, tap into social and build your brand legacy.
- How to write a great headline ❣️
- What assets to include ?
- How to get extra eyes on your story ?
- How to sweeten the deal ?
A bonus #5 step? Watch our interview with journalists Holly and Kelsey as they explain how they love – and hate – to be pitched:
WATCH NOW | PR Roundtable: How writers want to be pitched
Join us for the fifth episode of PR Roundtable with journos Kelsey Ogletree and Holly Brockwell! Watch free online now for pitching tips from the other side.
“The world may have gone digital, but PR is still very much about people. I love how refreshingly simple yet on-point Prezly’s guide to PR pitching is. Bravo!”
1. How to write a great headline ❣️
The headline is the first thing a journalist sees and it has one job: get them to read more. Make it good, or they may not read any further.
First off, determine who your audience is, who your competitors are, the current state of your market and what you’re doing that’s different. Then use that information to tell me why I should care about your news. (Spoiler: if you have to explain it, it’s too convoluted.)
Some things you can do to make a great headline:
- Write it as if it were a headline and ask yourself, “Would I read this?”
- Ask “Why should anyone care?” until you have a solid answer
- Tailor the headline to your audience
- Entice the imagination and surprise the reader
- Play with your grammar (punctuation, active vs passive voice…)
And it doesn’t hurt to add some personality to it, a bit of flare. Do you think Han Solo makes generations swoon because his scripted lines are all factually correct? Of course not. It’s all down to entertainment and bravado, timing and charm. (Ok, it might also have something to do with Harrison Ford’s face, but we can’t all have Harrison Ford’s face marketing our products, so it’s best not to fantasize.)
Other things that catch the eye are surprising statements (!), startling statistics (!!) and celebrity namedrops (just make sure it’s someone your audience will have heard of).
So while we can’t all be Han, we can take an extra 15 minutes to brainstorm a few creative alternatives to the standard “Company X releases Product Y” one-liner snoozefest before hitting “send”. You scoundrel.
Nail the headline
These three real-life press release examples show the importance of crafting a headline that grabs attention, uses wordplay and inspires curiosity:
2. What assets to include ?
Did you know that multimedia press releases get up to 9.7x as many views as those using text alone? Ragan knew it in 2011, when including images within your press release doubled the chance of it getting noticed; video quadrupled it. There’s little comparable data published more recently because including media in your press release in the year 2020 shouldn’t even be a question.
And yet, the majority of press releases go out as barebones text. Why?
With cameraphones and stock imagery abound, there’s no logical reason to exclude images, videos or other multimedia from your press releases, when including them will set you apart from all the other stories flooding journos’ inboxes.
If possible, embed a gallery within your press release, particularly if you’re launching a new product or presenting a story that looks great visually. This will give the reader an immediate idea of the story you’re telling without them having to read through reams of text, and arms them with a good selection of imagery to use in their coverage.
Embed quotes and tweets
Got a relevant tweet? Great – embed it. Someone raved about your business on YouTube? Stick it in. Got your latest product shot raking in likes on Instagram? In it goes.
Remember, your job is to make it as simple as possible for other people to tell your story.
By embedding evidence journalists can use you are saving them time while adding context and colour to your narrative.
If you use a specialized campaign client, the interface will often have an option to introduce html into the body of your story, making it possible to embed supported content, which varies from provider to provider but should include support for things like tweets and YouTube videos. (We simplified it a bit in Prezly so you can just copy-paste the URL of whatever you want to embed and the system does it automatically for you.) Worst case scenario, even with plain text you will be able to copy in a link.
Make your news social media friendly
Images and videos become extra powerful when it comes to sharing your press release on social media, since social networks will automatically generate a preview based on the content embedded within your press release. Having an attention-grabbing, vibrant image front and centre in your story is an easy way to increase your chances of engagement.
If you want to go a step further and optimize your images for use on social media platforms, there are a few more things you can do.
Include images in different resolutions and sizes
While these differ across platforms and you could spend several days cropping images to all the suggested sizes (overeager sharers might find this social media cheatsheet useful), it’s generally a good idea to include:
- A landscape image (around 1200 x 628 pixels)
- A square image (1080 x 1080 pixels; think Instagram)
- If you’re operating in food or creative industries – interior design, cosmetics, fashion, DIY, kid-friendly projects, crafts and hobbies – it’s a good idea to include a long portrait image for easy sharing on Pinterest (236 pixels wide)
Prezly gives you total control on how you use images and other media to tell your story, giving you the tools to easily move, crop and resize your content right in the story editor.
⚠️ A word of warning ⚠️
Be very careful when including images, videos and really any attachments in your campaigns. Email clients can interpret bulky email attachments as spam and filter them out of the recipient inbox, rendering your carefully executed press release all but invisible.
Better practice is to host your media somewhere reliable and embed it in your email so that it takes up very little space. (Psst… If you’re using Prezly, we take care of all that for you, so all you have to do is insert the image/video/audio file/tweet – or whatever you like – hit send and we do the rest ?)
The press release examples below are a masterclass in how different industries can use multimedia to wow the beholder. Notice that each one uses a bold, vibrant hero image at the very top of the story, follows with less than 100 words of flavour text and then immediately rewards the reader with more visual stimuli. Each of these releases was created in Prezly, which makes it possible to embed galleries, videos and more in your campaigns without making emails too heavy for your contact’s inbox.
Check out how these three very different businesses used vibrant imagery and embedded video to not only grab attention but make it near impossible to look away:
3. How to get extra eyes on your story ?
As in, set up a newsroom for your brand or project and use it to house your backlog of news, contacts and media assets. You can do this in myriad different ways, whatever your budget, from dedicating a part of your normal site to news updates, to setting up a free blog account through WordPress or Wix, to using a dedicated piece of newsroom software. (You’ll forgive us for being biased towards that last option, since customisable newsrooms come as standard with Prezly subscriptions.)
Having a newsroom gives you the power to control at least some of the narrative around your brand, establishes a history for your venture and gives people – journalists, bloggers and customers alike – a source of truth for your business. This is incredibly important at a time when most of what people read about your enterprise comes from third-party sources like social media posts and review sites.
Put simply, your newsroom is your brand’s legacy online. But there are other benefits to hosting your press releases on a live site versus shooting them out via discrete email campaigns.
Why you need a newsroom in 2020
Typing up a press release and sending it to your treasured contacts has some obvious drawbacks:
- If your contact misses the email, they miss the story