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A press release about a prominent or famous person always has news value. Celebrities, political figures, and business leaders will often make news. Make sure you have the permission of a celebrity customer before you use his or her name. If you can get a quote from the celebrity, that will make your press release more credible.
Make sure your release offers new information and that information is positioned prominently in the headline and first paragraph. Editors look for stories that tells readers something they don't already know. Make sure your release tells something new. Don't just rehash subjects that the publication has covered in the past. Also, if you can peg your press release to a current event or trend already in the news, that will likely get it read by more editors.
A conflict in and of itself can be newsworthy, especially if there are a lot of people involved. A conflict sometimes points to a larger issue that's even more newsworthy. Be sure to present both sides of the issue and identify why the conflict occurred. Avoid giving an opinion or judgement on the conflict, and be sure you don't paint the opposing views as either "right" or "wrong."
Determining whom your story impacts will help you decide where to send the release. If the announcement only affects a certain geographic area, send it to media in that area. If the information is relevant only to a certain industry, send it to publications that serve that industry. In general, the more people an announcement affects, the more news value it has. However, if a story affects a small number of people dramatically, that can have news value as well.
A good editor knows what his or her readers want to read. By carefully identifying the audience of each publication you're targeting, you'll know, too. Editors appreciate that you took the time to determine that their audience is likely to be interested in what you have to say. Visit the publication's Web site, and read back issues to get a sense of what the audience wants.
Local media like to carry local stories, so if you can connect your press release to the geographic area of the audience, you're more likely to have success placing your press release. If you can tie the company or product to businesses or individuals in the community that the media outlet covers, that gives the editor and reporter a local contact to feature in a story. Try to get quotes from locals, and weave them into your release--without making it too long.
If something is unusual, it's probably newsworthy. It can be the biggest, smallest, best, first, last, or just rare. Any claims will need to be substantiated with real numbers or facts. Beware of words like "best," "leading," "most popular," etc. You need to be able to back up these claims. You can say your company is "a leading provider," but if you say "the leading provider," you need to be able to prove it with market share statistics, for example.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines a press release as, "An announcement of an event, performance, or other newsworthy item that is issued to the press." There is no mention of marketing, advertising or opinion, because these have no place in a press release.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|