Is your press release newsworthy?

That’s the first question members of the media are going to ask when they read any news release you send them. Well, that and “will my audience care about this?” But we’ll get to targeting and distribution in another post. For now, let’s focus on making sure your latest release actually deserves media coverage.

Today we’ll dive into what it means for your press release to be “newsworthy” and why that should be your top priority when writing press releases.

What Makes a Press Release Newsworthy?

The most obvious type of newsworthy press release is the “hard news” variety — an important announcement or event.

For example, if a medical device manufacturer’s product was just used in the first ever life-saving medical procedure of its kind, that’s a hard news angle.

That said, your press release doesn’t have to focus on hard news to be newsworthy enough for media pick-ups. But it does need to have one or more of the following features:

Timeliness

These are press releases that have a seasonal or otherwise timely angle. They play on something people are talking about anyway.

For example, one of my own clients is a consumer reporting company — they let consumers post reviews of products, services, and companies, and they connect companies and consumers so they can resolve problems.

They sometimes put out seasonal press releases that aren’t really hard news, but they have a timely interest to consumers.

For example, around tax season in the U.S., the company would go through its database of consumer complaints about tax software and tax preparation companies from the previous year. They would then issue a press release reporting on the most common issues consumers faced last year, coupled with tips on how consumers could protect themselves from similar problems this time around. It’s basically about releasing timely industry data.

These kinds of releases could be put out for a variety of industries year-round because the company always had timely data they could report.

Industry Relevance

Remember, not all press releases are meant to be picked up by general interest media outlets. Sometimes your targets are industry publications instead.

In that case, your press release is newsworthy as long as it holds relevance and interest within your industry.

For example, you might put out a release having your company comment on new regulations affecting the industry. Or you might issue a news release announcing your participation in, or sponsorship of, an industry event.

Human Interest

Your press release might not focus on “news” at all, but rather a human interest angle. That can be equally newsworthy as something like a launch announcement if you target the right media outlets. Actually, these can be the easiest stories to place.

Human interest press releases are sometimes referred to as “feature press releases.” And the previous example I gave about a consumer reporting company offering consumer protection tips alongside data reporting could be lumped into this group even if they didn’t play on timely, seasonal angles.

Another example might be your company weighing in on a political issue.

Think about the situation last year where tech companies in the U.S. put out public statements regarding the Trump administration’s Muslim ban and how it could affect not only their industry and innovation, but also the people behind that industry. Those are human interest stories coupled with industry relevance. (I should note, with this kind of story a better option might be writing and pitching an outright feature story, or writing an op-ed.)

A human interest press release might also focus on an individual — such as profiling a new member of your team and their history of good works or community involvement.

Local Interest

One thing I find with clients is they often come into press release distribution under the assumption news releases are all about major, national media coverage.

That’s great if you have a story worthy of national attention. But you don’t have to limit news releases to those kinds of stories. You can always work a local angle as well.

This could be anything from your company sponsoring a local program to hosting an event for local residents. In this case, the idea is to get media mentions from area outlets like your local newspaper or your city’s television news program (especially if it’s to announce an event they’re invited to attend).

In the end, there’s nothing more important to a successful press release than starting with a newsworthy story. But “newsworthy” doesn’t always mean what you think. As long as you hit on one of the factors above, and you’ve sent it to relevant media outlets, you’re well on you way to landing the media coverage you crave.

Need a hand writing your next newsworthy press release? Get in touch any time.

Jennifer Mattern
Jennifer Mattern is a freelance blogger, business writer, and PR consultant specializing in working with small businesses and independent and creative professionals. In addition to writing for others for 20 years and having 17 years experience in PR and online marketing, Jenn has been blogging for 15 years and runs several blogs of her own including All Freelance Writing, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

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