Want to know why you should invest a few minutes customizing your press release?
Because humans working in the media are flying a million miles an hour.
If you deliver relevant information in a way that fits, you’re more likely to get their attention.
What do I mean? Let’s look at all the traditional media outlets in even the most remote regions:
Each one of those will have different departments, sections, shows, themes, or areas of focus that largely are driven by holidays, local, regional and current events.
You also may have media outlets within your reach that focus on business, family, food, entertainment, sports, or a few related to or on the fringe of your industry.
So, let’s play out the creation and delivery of a press release about a woman business owner we’ll call Sue. She also happens to be a mom. She sells sporting goods. Her business is growing so she’s moving into a bigger building to accommodate the new product lines she’ll carry — and the new employees she’s hiring.
Sue thinks it’s a great opportunity to do a press release. There are a few ways she could roll it out.
Scenario 1: Spray and Pray
Sue and has some money to put behind it so she pays a couple grand for a big PR firm to deliver the news. She approves the press release they write for her, and they send it out in a broadcast email on her behalf.
I call this the “spray and pray” method. When I was a senior editor for a group of four papers, I received emails from big firms and other national or global businesses that specialize in crafting and delivering press releases for their clients like Sue. I scrolled past or deleted 99.9 percent of them because they were:
designed to impress their client,
not relevant to my audience, and
more of an ad than a release of news.
Broadcast emails are so stinking obvious. I instantly knew all the media outlets around me had the same press release. It was easy for me to ignore because, hey, somebody else might use it. I felt a little sorry for the business owner or nonprofit that had paid good money to have me scroll by their slick release.
If, by chance, I decided to open it, the mix of fonts, bolds and italics would be enough for me to look sideways at it. Would I have enough time to fix it? The fourth or fifth paragraph may have had something quasi-relevant, but I wasn’t sure. I could have called the firm, but my story list was looking good that week — and by the time I ripped out the copy from their PDF (oh, wait, my computer didn’t have that ability) … DELETE.
See how easy that was? Ouch.
If Sue had known that her big firm did not take the time to customize her release so that ONE DETAIL linking her to my audience was obvious to me, she’d have freaked. There was only a vague hint in her press release; it mentioned the region’s nickname, not the town. Her big firm will tell her that I was on the list and received the email; she’ll think I’m a bitch for not using it. She’ll assume I don’t like her, don’t care or whatever. Her big firm will call my office a few times, but I don’t take their call. Sue and I never develop a relationship. She never buys an ad. I ignore every press release her firm sends about her because I’m sure it’s not relevant.
Scenario 2: Customize for Coverage
Sue knows she’s going to get great media coverage because she’s heard about the importance of customizing her press release. She creates a great one and sends it (individually) to each of the major media outlets in her area. She puts a special sports/health spin on her moving day, complete with kids and a special guest so TV stations know they’ll have a cool event to shoot.
She tweaks it to highlight each aspect of the story (moves those details to the top, creates a fresh quote, adds a few related details, and unique “suggested” headline), and winds up with several customized releases for:
business biz outlets (print and online) in the region,
the monthly magazine with a focus on families,
an online and print publication that covers women in business, and
several sport-specific media outlets.
Her hometown media contact will love her story. She still has classmates living there. She’s customized the living daylights out of that press release because KEEPSAKE! There’s no way they won’t pick up the story. They’ll probably put it above the fold in their print edition (as long as there are no fires or major arrests), and highlight it in their social media.
The monthly magazine with a focus on families likely would have passed over a press release about a female business owner, but Sue highlighted how she’s been able to teach her kids about the benefits of sports, having the right equipment, and running a business that adds to her family’s life instead of taking her away from it.
Sue did her homework so she knows she won’t get caught in anybody’s spam filter. She followed online submission guidelines to a T. Guess what? All those humans in the media know who she is. HER email will pop up in their world. It’ll be the beginning of a great relationship. They’ll welcome updates from her. They might even check in with her when something related crosses their path.
Yep. It took a couple of days for her to get everything ready, but the time she has invested will go a lot farther and last a lot longer than the old spray and pray. She didn’t have to “pitch” a soul. Others may say she created a “buzz” but she knows better. She’s created a strong foundation for more media coverage in the future.
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