Public Relations News Release Rocket Science

Press Release not getting the coverage lift you hoped for?  Here are some tips to ensure launch success.

Press Release not getting the coverage lift you hoped for?  Here are some tips to ensure launch success.

The Rocket Launch: Three Key Ways to Improve Your Media Relations Performance

It happens to the best of us.  Our company (or client, or department) has a newsworthy bit of something to share.  It's time to get that press release out in the world where it belongs.

You write it up, complete with a laudatory quote from the CEO, the customer, the partner, you put it on your website...AND...crickets chirp.  Or as NASA might helpfully conclude: mission failure.

So, your rocket didn't launch, that orbit-worthy piece of news has only generated 10 views on your site (and you know seven of them were yours).  What to do next?

Don't despair, it's time to re-engineer for success.  

It's not that news releases are heading towards extinction; as a matter of fact, Google considers them a valuable tool for search indexing. Which makes releases a still-valuable strategy.  It's just that, well, times have changed.  Unless you have truly amazing news to report - such as a true rocket launch, with thanks to Elon Musk and others, then releases are more of an SEO strategy and content dissemination move than a media-attention gathering one.

NEWS RELEASE STRATEGY:  THREE THINGS YOU CAN DO  

1.  Offer an exclusive
Most journalists want to write a story from a release they've pulled off the news wire about as much as they want  a case of the flu.  Why?  Because it's their job to create news, and a release that just landed in every newsroom across the country (or the globe), is hardly going to be fresh news for them or their readers.  So, give select journalists an opportunity to interview, read and write in advance.  THEN you may get the rocket-launch equivalent of feature coverage.
2.  Give the news a fuel boost
If you do send a release out on the news wire, follow-up with the journalists (editors, hear me out on this!) not to ask them if they received the release (they did), or ask them if they're going to write about it (awkwardness all around, don't you agree?) offer them something they can use.  An interesting news angle that makes sense for their readers, or something unique that they can write a story about that differs from the simple news release text.
No, you won't be able to offer this to every single journalist with access to a newswire, but you should be able to offer up something fresh to the writers who cover your industry.  If you don't, then perhaps that news release wasn't so newsworthy after all.
3.  Check your timing
Just as those NASA engineers won't give mission clearance to a rocket launch during bad weather, neither should you let your release fly when your news conditions are less than clear.  Unless the timing is a must-have, think of rescheduling your news release rocket-launch if:
  • There's significant news breaking in that time period
  • There's a holiday during which much of your readership will be gone
  • End of week, early week (no Monday morning news unless its financial and critical)

The list could go on, but that gives you an idea.  And, as a closing note, if you find that you have a wealth of custom news ideas, perfectly aligned with your key journalists' news beat, then maybe you think about forgoing that news release launch entirely, and diving straight into offering up customized, fresh news and trends to an appreciative media world.

Sometimes you don't need a news release rocket, an effectively-crafted pitch will earn you the public relations equivalent of a successful landing on planet Media Coverage.

Good luck and happy landings!

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Pam Abrahamsson is the founder and CEO of PRA Public Relations, an agency focused on financial services, big data and payments technology.  An award-winning practitioner with 16 years+ experience, she's a regular speaker, writer and business startup mentor.  Contact her at:  pam@prapublicrelations.com.