I thought I had gotten caught in a time warp, when my manager asked me to send out a press release. I was halfway legging it to find a cassette tape and a typewriter. Like so many of this generation, I was busy chasing the next digital thrill and forgetting to look back at the tools and tricks that had been tried and tested.
Digital and social media marketing may be the hot stuff, but it’s not the silver bullet. Traditional media – print, radio and television – is still alive and pulling critical mass. They are therefore important channels for creating awareness, as the first of the multi-stage customer buying cycle.
It was time to flex the mighty press release muscle. But how?
All channels are saturated and journalists get bombarded with press releases daily. The likelihood of my first announcements getting any airplay was as probable as Jon Snow ruling the seven kingdoms.
Being fresh into the world of media communications, I also had to tackle this challenge starting off on a basis of zero connections. Getting my foot in the door was the goal.
In my own head, I scanned through my list of friends and colleagues, and arrived at the – perhaps incorrect, but at the time logical – conclusion that I did not have contacts in the media industry. So I turned online to compile my hit list.
Google is a treasure trove, so I searched terms such as “list of media outlets in Adelaide”, to begin with. Sometimes I came across a PDF that someone else had conveniently created, with addresses and contact numbers.
Facebook was my next avenue for phone numbers. Most media outlets have a separate Facebook page for each state or region and I was able to find direct phone numbers to each of those offices. Sometimes they all lead to the same email address, but the point is, that I picked up the phone.
Calling these outlets allowed me to find the correct email address to send the release to, rather than hitting a rebound wall.
Either way you roll the die, cold-calling pick-up rates are so low, that it’s really just ticking the box.
Create a partnership with a media outlet
Our commercial team is responsible for reaching out to media outlets to try and negotiate more than a straight “fee-for-airtime” deal. The idea is to sell enough of a compelling story that the radio, press or television guys want to jump on the wagon and run editorials, website take-overs, live-reads, interviews and tonnes more value-adds.
The challenge is that these outlets usually have limited partnership slots – or will tell you that, if you’re just not that interesting to them.
Leveraging your sponsors and ambassadors
As an event company, we have a stable of sponsors and government partners. These are organisations who have media links and contacts of their own. Cross-promotion benefits everyone, so as long as we navigate the sensitivities of how best to access to these contacts, this is one for the books.
Recipe for a press release
There’s templates galore out there, but at it’s core, the press release that I cobbled together included these elements:
- Prominently company logo
- Hero images of the product, service or event
- Headline, such as: “MEDIA RELEASE: XYZ ANNOUNCED AS THE OFFICIAL BRAND AMBASSADOR FOR X CO.”
- Factual information, balanced with choice quotes from someone of authority, such as our company CEO, operations manager or a prominent brand ambassador, e.g. “‘This is going to be a game changer…’, explains CEO X.”
- Be no more than two A4-sized pages
- Be saved into PDF
The return of the press release
If it ain’t out there, then it ain’t going to get seen.
Companies often make the error of overestimating the reach of their brand messaging. It’s our daily job. Hell, it even infiltrates our dreams. It’s no wonder that we think that everyone in the world knows who we are and what we’re about. Most don’t.
When posting online to social media, or sending out an email, we’re usually targeting the same audience – those who already know about us.
Media releases are about getting our story into the hands of those media outlets, who have audiences that our brand has not startled with our brilliance. We’re talking thousands, if not millions of listeners, readers and viewers.