Your News Releases: Are They Getting Media Coverage?
It’s time to find out if your public relations firm or in-house PR department is getting you results or if they’re just taking up space and salaries. Ask your PR folks to show you the last five news releases they sent out to the news media.
Now ask them to show you specifically the resulting media coverage be it television, radio or newspaper. What did you get? Odds are you got nothing.
But you already knew that, didn’t you? Did any of your local television stations do a story about one of the releases? You know they didn’t because you would have been the person being interviewed and as far as you can remember you haven’t looked into a television camera in years — if ever!
What about your local radio stations? Did any of them telephone you for an interview? I’ll bet not. Newspaper? No telephone call. So let me guess the end result of your company’s PR effort — No TV, no radio and maybe, just maybe on page three of the newspaper’s business section you got a two-inch blurb essentially regurgitating the first two paragraphs of your company’s news release.
Why didn’t you get any media coverage? Experience tells me it’s because your news release didn’t address the most important questions the media, viewers and listeners ask — “Why do I care? What’s in it for me? How does it effect me?”
Although you sent out hundreds of news releases in hopes of reaching thousands of people, you forgot that it always comes down to an audience of one — the guy in his living room chair watching television, listening to the radio or reading the newspaper. He’s the guy ya gotta talk to!
Your goal, through your news release, is to convince the media that the guy in the living room chair gives a damn about what your news release is promoting. Give the media a reason to show up. What’s unique, unusual or interesting about your new product, groundbreaking or charity event that will make the guy in the easy chair take notice?
The 5 W’s Will Make or Break Your News Release
Most news releases that get ignored and thrown in the trash meet with that fate usually because they did not include the 5 W’s.
The 5 W’s are the essential information a news organization needs in deciding whether or not to cover a story: Who, What, When, Where and Why. Too often the sender of the news release is so wrapped up in hashtags, websites, email addresses and phone numbers that the 5 W’s are neglected.
Here in a nutshell is an example of properly providing the 5 W’s in simple paragraph form promoting a Harley motorcycle ride to benefit Muscular Distrophy: The Green Bay Harley Owners Group (HOG Chapter) will hold a charity ride to benefit Muscular Dystrophy Saturday, June 4, 2019 beginning at 9am at the Brown County Fairgrounds. There you have it! The 5 W’s in one, short, simple sentence. Yet it includes everything the media need to know. Add the name of a contact person and a phone number and you’re gold!
Yet, I have received many news releases missing one or more of the 5 W’s. Some were missing the date of the event — yes, the date! Others did not indicate a time. Some will list the Where for example as ‘Sidekicks Bar’ leaving the media to ask what city Sidekicks Bar is in.
Then there are the countless times that the day and the date do not match. The release will say, “Saturday, June 4” when in fact June 4 is on a Sunday. We know how this innocent mistake happens. The writer of the release looked at the event date in last year’s news release and put it into this year’s mailing. Not a big deal but it does force the media to call you and ask you if you meant Saturday or Sunday.
Bottom line: Publicity and coverage for your event begins with the 5 W’s. The easier you make it for the media the more likely the media will cover your event.