At Dooley Communications, we’ve distributed hundreds of news releases, in Winnipeg, across Canada and the US and beyond. We’ve helped companies that want to get news out about a local event and those that are launching a product or service internationally.
Part of our job is helping our clients understand when they should send a news release for their announcement and when they shouldn’t. Some companies send too many news releases, spamming journalists so that when they have something important to say, no one is listening. By the same token, some companies fail to send a news release when they have real news to share, missing out on the exposure they could have had.
Here are three questions to ask yourself when you’re considering sending a news release.
Is it news?
This may seem like an obvious question. â€œWell of course it’s news if I want to send a news release,â€ you might say. But stop and think about it. Media outlets only have so many column inches and broadcast minutes to fill, and they’re fighting for audiences. So ask yourself if your news is relevant outside of your company.
It’s a hard truth that many donation announcements – especially if you are supporting a project with many donors – won’t attract media attention. Changes to a product already available, a new service that the public can already get somewhere else or winning an industry award can be big news for a company, but not interesting to the media. Sometimes we can help make an announcement newsier with a creative photo opportunity, speaking engagement or product demonstration.
If it’s not news to one kind of media, it might be news to another. Your new product might not earn its place on the six o’clock news, but it may be exciting to an industry newsletter or trade publication. And the CEO profile you’re trying to push to the local paper might be better pitched to a business magazine.
What do you hope to gain?
How will you measure the success of your news release? Do you want to have news to share on your website to boost your SEO? Or will it only be successful if multiple leading media outlets pick you up? If you need mass media coverage to be successful, a news release alone is probably not enough. You’ll need to consider organizing demonstrations or events as well as developing complimentary videos, photos and graphics.
Do you have spokespeople?
Before you send anything out, make sure you have a well-spoken, informed spokesperson. And make sure they’re available for interviews! If the media follow up with you, they will expect to speak to someone who knows about the topic you are promoting. In many cases, they will not use the quotes you prepared in the release, but will want to get their own.
If your spokesperson is an executive, and they are shy about speaking with the media, or they don’t have time on a certain day, you may need to postpone your announcement. If your spokesperson is camera shy or nervous, invest in some media training. It’s worth it.
Alternatives to a news release
A news release isn’t always the best way to make an announcement. See below for a few options to share news without a formal news release:
- send a pitch email to select journalists
- create a video and post it on your website and to YouTube
- write a blog post – use social media such as Twitter and Facebook
- create a newsletter
- have a party or open house