Let’s say you’ve got what you believe is a newsworthy announcement, and you’ve conceived and drafted an appropriate press release to try and generate media attention.
So, what now?
Well, now you want to get that press release to media outlets that can hopefully either publish it, or give your announcement the coverage it deserves. If your press release can convince editors or journalists of its announcement’s newsworthiness, you can reach a wider audience.
There are a lot of moving parts to distributing a finished press release, which we’ll cover in this guide. Read on and discover best practices for submission, and a few expert tips.
What makes a press release “newsworthy”
Before we get into targeting relevant media outlets for distribution of your press release, let’s discuss the importance of the announcement being “newsworthy.”
For a press release to be considered for publication, it should be somehow interesting and meaningful. Perhaps it’s part of a larger social context, or connected to a relevant news cycle, or maybe it’s a solution to a common problem.
If your announcement lacks impact or relevance, media outlets aren’t even going to read the press release, let alone give it coverage.
So, then, what press releases would actually be considered newsworthy?
A new product launch. This might be the announcement for a totally new product, or an update of a popular existing one.
A major new business partnership. If two well-known companies or organizations join forces, it could make for interesting news (not so for unknown start-ups).
The closing of a funding round. This could announce the quarterly funding report or fundraising event of a well-known company or organization.
An expansion into new territory. A well-known company or organization expanding into a new marketplace is certainly newsworthy, particularly if it’s international.
A socially relevant event. A notable award ceremony or an event in which the public is invited to attend would make for a newsworthy press release.
Conversely, what press release announcements wouldn’t necessarily be newsworthy?
Sales advertisements. Any obviously promotional content designed to sell would not be a newsworthy press release.
Insignificant product updates. Products updates that won’t have an impact on the market or consumers aren’t newsworthy press releases.
New company hires. Aside from major C-suite hires within a well-known company, everyday hires aren’t considered newsworthy.
How to target your press release submissions
Once it’s time to submit your press release to media outlets, there are two distribution options:
Utilizing a press release distribution service
Emailing the press release directly to publications on your own
Though it costs a fee, press release distribution services have syndication agreements with various media outlets across the country, meaning there’s a guarantee your press release will be submitted, and likely published on at least some media websites.
The drawback here is that publication targeting is very broad, and your press release could end up on a site that’s totally irrelevant to its target audience.
On the other hand, you can also try submitting it the old-fashioned way by sending it directly to editors and journalists via email. Though it’s more time consuming, this can be more effective by allowing you to significantly target relevant publications.
However, journalists also receive hundreds of pitches a day, and there’s a chance they might not even give your press release a cursory glance.
What steps to take to send out your press release
Now, before finally sending out your press release, think again about its target audience. Ask yourself, “Who do I really want to read this press release?”
When you identify once and for all the press release’s target audience, you’re ready to proceed.
1. Compile target media outlets
Since you’ve identified your press release’s target audience, it’s easy to determine media outlets that would most likely be interested in it.
Before you start, however, maintain realistic expectations. Top-tier publications will probably not be interested in your press release, so it’s advisable to submit to smaller-name outlets.
Next, simply Google search journalists who’ve previously covered news pieces relevant to your press release. You want to be as targeted as possible in your pitch emails, and you’re more likely to get results if you contact editors and writers relevant to the announcement.
Also, try to find reporters from nearby publications if the press release is relevant to a specific region or city—i.e. announcing a local charity or social event.
2. Identify media contacts
Once you have a general idea of both your targeted audience and publications, then you can search for individual media contacts.
How do you do that?
Social media is a good start—search for “[keyword] journalist” on Twitter or LinkedIn, for instance. Or, if you’re specifically looking for a tech journalist, simply type that into the search function on either platform and scan the results.
Here’s what the results that approach produces on Twitter:
Alternatively you can reverse engineer this approach and use Google News to find journalists and publications that discuss subjects relevant to your press release. Then, once you’ve found one you’d like to contact, search social media for an official email address.
On a final note, don’t discount media databases, directories that contain lists of journalists, bloggers, and influencers and their contact details. You do have to pay to access these, and the subscription fees are contingent on the size of the database and the region.
3. Craft a pitch email
So, after you’ve compiled your target media outlets and identified relevant contacts and email addresses, it’s time to write the pitch email for your press release.
This email pitch should feature the following parts:
A catchy subject line
No pressure, but a strong subject line will more likely prompt a media contact to open your email in the first place, especially in an inbox probably flooded with other pitches.
Subject lines should be interesting, but concise—ideally, no more than 10 words.
An engaging pitch
The opening line should clearly explain what the press release is about and provide all relevant details. Structurally, the email should be similar to the press release, with the most important information appearing first, followed by the other details in order of their importance.
By far the most critical part, however, is building the “angle.” Basically, your pitch needs to explain exactly why this press release is relevant to a larger context, and why the media contact should care enough to give it coverage.
The entire pitch email should be no more than 150 words, which will increase the likelihood that the targeted contact will actually read it.
Copied and pasted press release
After the pitch body, copy and paste the entire press release at the bottom—don’t ever attach it.
4. Time the pitch email
We don’t ever really think about the timing of an email anymore, but when you send out your press release pitch, consider both date and time.
In this case, mid-morning is probably ideal, because you can reach a media contact after their inbox is cleared from the previous day, but before new emails accumulate. Also, consider sending your pitch email in the middle of the week to increase your open rate.
You might also employ the use of email scheduling software, so you can select the date and time to send, and ensure every pitch is distributed at an ideal time.
5. Follow up, follow up, follow up
Once you’ve sent the initial pitch email, wait patiently for a few days, then send a follow-up email to ask them if they received the press release.
As an added tip: use the follow-up to either build on the email thread, or you can also send a new pitch email with the same press release—just change the subject line.
Wrapping up on submitting press releases
Overall, successful press release submission is all about pitching to the relevant targeted publications so the audience you want to read the press release will read it.
But, in order to do that you need to know your target audience and your target media outlets so you can determine what’s relevant to them and figure out how to pique their interest.