Press Releases Only Work When They’re Tied to Real News

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I just read an article by Michael Masterson claiming the wonders of free publicity if you send out a press release approximately every two weeks . He claimed you should send one out every time you:

  • create a new product, product line, or division
  • open a new office
  • sign a major contract
  • win an award
  •  sponsor a local charity or team

Unfortunately, these kinds of press releases rarely get picked up by anyone.

Maybe your local business journal might find it interesting and the charity event story might be picked by a local newspaper but this isn’t the kind of business-building free publicity most companies are looking for.

What’s worse, he suggests you do-it-yourself rather than have a professional do it for you. There are some things you can do for yourself. Writing press releases isn’t one of them.

For one thing, reporters don’t care one whit about your firm, it’s products or services, or you. What they care about are stories that their readers would find interesting, educational or titillating. Their job is to inform and entertain their readers. Not to promote your company.

What does this mean to you?

Your press release needs to be tied to a major news happening. Case in point: The bridge collapse over Highway 35W in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Sending out a press release that you just won the contract to build the new bridge might get a sentence or two in a local story.

Sending out a press release on how to survive a bridge collapse will get coverage in every major city in the country. listing yourself as the authority in the story is how you get news coverage.

Why should you pay a professional to write it?

There’s a reason I don’t have a do it yourself e-course on writing press releases. Reporters of all stripes are in the most harried, deadline-intensive business in the world. If they get two press releases, one written just like a news story that they can put directly in the paper, and one obviously written by someone who doesn’t understand journalism and journalistic style that they have to re-write before they can publish it, guess who gets in the paper, magazine or on the news? And guess which firm gets contacted as a “topic expert” the next time that reporter is working on a similar or related topic?

If you’re looking for a professional to manage your PR campaign, I suggest you talk to Barbara Mednick of BKM Consulting. You can call her at 651-486-7007 or email her at info at


About the Author:

Bob McClain or WordsmithBob, is a retired website copywriter in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. He has focused on developing new, more effective approaches to web writing, web content, web copywriting and Search Engine Optimization. Starting with a BA in Technical Communication and a minor in Creative Writing from Metro State University in St. Paul, McClain has worked diligently to end the use of "corp-speak" and "technospeak" online. His approach is to “humanize” the Web, using real information to guide people to buy rather than turning websites into advertisements that people can easily ignore.
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  1. Phyllis Zimbler Miller  March 22, 2010

    Yes, I know that there are people who advocate sending a news release for every little thing. But, as a former newspaper reporter, I don’t agree.

    And how true that, if you don’t know how to write a press release, don’t write one. There’s a very specific style, and publication outlets expect to see press releases in that style. Otherwise, as we use to say, they automatically go in the circular file.

  2. WordsmithBob  March 22, 2010

    It depends on what the purpose of the press release is. A lot of Internet Marketers actually have good luck with press releases using them just for the purpose of getting backlins. However, if you really want to get in the news, you better be writing about some real news that ties your business or product to a hot new story of the day.

  3. Barbara Mednick  March 22, 2010

    Bob – Good blog post about the importance of making sure your news release has some real “news” in it! News value and relevance drive media coverage and the media decides what is newsworthy, so you need to focus on specific news criteria such as timeliness, proximity, impact, prominence, conflict, novelty, etc. Connecting your news release to a hot news story or current trend will give your news release a good “news hook” that will pique the media’s attention and increase your chances of media coverage. A “news hook” is the framework on which you build a news story. It will also reflect better on your organization or business. Other good “news hooks” include tying your product or service to an economic trend, countering misperceptions, etc.

  4. WordsmithBob  March 23, 2010

    Great response Barb! Too many companies think their new whatsit model something or other is news. Unfortunately, that’s why they get no “bang for their buck” with their press release. They need to hire a prfessional to show them how to tie their press releases to what’s current. If I remember correctly, you are a PR specialist. Do you have any blog posts you could link to that could help people understand what a good press release is all about?

  5. Organic SEO Services  March 23, 2010

    Thank you Bob for the interesting post on Press Release Marketing!

    In addition to all you’ve mentioned, I’ve seen some people waiting for some news to happen so that they can write something about it and have it published. Apart from the fact that a well-written optimized PR can get a lot of publicity and it’s better to leave it to the professionals to write it for you, I think you can create the news yourself in order to have it published!

    A few examples are:

    1) Interview a well-known businessperson and publish a PR about it.

    2) Start an online course and grant certificates and publish a PR about it.

    3) Make use of certain technologies for your business and and publish a PR about it.

    4) Offer special discount to particular guilds, etc and publish a PR about it.

    These are just a few examples on how you can be a news maker yourself and have it written and published by some experts in the field.

    Rahman Mehraby

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