Most journalists spend less than 60 seconds reading the press releases they receive — and that’s an average. Most spend far less time on them, skimming and deleting before they move onto the next one in their inbox. As for any kind of response? Forget it.
In that kind of environment, it’s tempting either to stop sending press releases or to keep cranking out bad ones, vowing not to spend too much time on something that’s unlikely to pay off.
Don’t do either of those things. Believe it or not, it’s possible to get a journalist’s attention about virtually anything. That’s because although they are overworked, underpaid and surfeited with press releases, they need story ideas. It’s how they make their living and keep their jobs. Their editors are pressuring them every day to find interesting or useful stories to share with their audiences. So they want your idea to work; they just don’t want to waste time on an idea that won’t.
So how do you win? It’s all about framing the story the right way.
Let’s take a fictional but common example from the car wash industry: You’re running 10th anniversary promotion on Sunday, and you want people to come and take advantage of your half-off sale.
It’s tempting to write a press release that simply says those things: We’re so excited to announce the 10th anniversary of Soapy Sudz Car Wash on Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014. As a way to say thank you to our valued customers we’re offering them 50 percent off their purchase of any of our products. We want to get the word out through all available channels so that no one misses this once-a-decade opportunity.
Resist the temptation. Do not write that unless you’re buying an ad — then you can say whatever you want. Journalists are desperate for stories, but they’re not desperate for giving away free advertising. They want to tell a yarn that will resonate and matter to their audience. They want to be able to tell their editors, “This is more interesting than the 5,000 other business promotions going on this weekend because…” Give them that reason. Try something more like this:
ROCHESTER CAR WASH HIRING 10 MORE EMPLOYEES FOR 10th ANNIVERSARY
Starting a car wash isn’t cheap. So when John Albertson, 58, opened Soapy Sudz Car Wash in 2004, he had invested every dollar of his retirement savings in the venture. He knew it was a risk for himself and his family, but he believed his business plan was right for the Rochester community at the time.
And he was right. He broke even the very first year. Each year after that — save two years during the Great Recession — Soapy Sudz saw double digit growth. And with that growth, the company’s family has grown. From just him and his wife running the shop in 2004, Mr. Albertson now employs 26 people across four locations in and around Rochester.
Now, to mark a decade in business, Soapy Sudz is excited to announce the hiring of 10 additional employees, giving a much-needed boost to the local economy.
“My family has been a part of this community for 35 years, and it has helped our car wash to thrive for the past 10,” Mr. Albertson said. “It’s a privilege to be able to keep our neighbors’ cars clean and to be one small thread in the fabric of Rochester.”
District 3 City Councilwoman Rita Jones and Mr. Albertson will kick off the 10th anniversary celebration of Soapy Sudz Car Wash at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014. All customers will receive 50 percent off their purchase of any car wash product as a small way of saying thank you for a decade of support.
That’s a story. It has some human interest: A man takes a risk that pays off. It has some public interest: Soapy Suz is a job creator. And it feels like an important moment for the community, something any local media organization is going to want to cover.
Of course, you can’t just write stuff that isn’t true. You have to make the news happen, like inviting the local city council member to speak at the ceremony and timing the hiring of 10 workers to coincide with the 10th anniversary. News events like this are created.
That should be enough to get you started, but if you need help creating your own event or press release, we’re always here to led a hand. Don’t hesitate to contact us.