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|Want to Improve PR Results? Improving PR Processes Could Be the Missing Link.|
What's your company's press release process?
If you don't have one, you're not alone.
Most firms decide to issue a press release on a whim. The press release is then written in a vacuum without any structured input. It's edited to final and put on the wire. Done!
A much better approach, especially for larger organizations, is to create a structured process for issuing press releases. Here's an example of a press release worksheet that should be completed early in the process.The idea is that everybody who wants to issue a press release should complete this form. The PR team, in counsel with key executives, then evaluates the press release worksheet form and decides if doing a press release makes sense for the organization.
If it's agreed that the company should do a press release, then the content of the press release worksheet is refined to final. Only then does the press release writing process begin.
Here's an example press release worksheet that we've found to be particularly useful in helping clients to issue more effective press releases.
SAMPLE PRESS RELEASE WORKSHEET
1. Objective Please provide a one-sentence summary of your objective for issuing a press release.
2. Messaging What are the top three messages this release should convey?
3. Audience Who do you want to reach with this news? (e.g. Consumers? Specific vertical markets? Investment community? Small Business? Online Consumer?)
4. Relevance What is the relevance of this news to each of the target audiences above? (specifically, how will each be impacted by the announcement?)
5. Media Targets Name top target publications for this announcement. Where would you like this news to be visible?
6. News Value Why is this news significant from an industry or consumer perspective? Is this a first in the industry? Is this tied to any broader business or consumer trends?
7. Spokespeople Who should be quoted in this press release?
8. Other Parties Involved If a partner or customer is involved in this announcement, who from that party should be quoted?
9. Specifics If this is a product-related announcement, please provide details.
10. Approvals Who within your department, or externally, needs to approve?
11. Likely Questions from the Media What are the top 15-20 questions you are likely to get asked by reporters regarding this announcement? What are the responses you'd give reporters?
That's it. So simple, and yet, surprisingly, most firms do not have a press release process.
Hopefully, the value of adopting a structured process is readily apparent. Think of this press release worksheet as the business plan for the press release.
It defines the purpose of a press release, but it's much more than that. It's a detailed roadmap for writing the press release. It's also a document that can be used to measure how effective the press release was, because, after the press release has been issued and promoted, you can circle back and look at the worksheet to see if the press release met its defined objectives.
Note also Question 11 above, in which the press release champion is asked to anticipate what questions the media will ask. To me, that's one of the more valuable questions in the press release. It provides good inputs to an FAQ that might accompany the press release. (In a future post, I'll give some examples of questions reporters frequently ask.)
A complete press release methodology includes more than just this press release questionnaire, but you get the idea. When you bring structure to your PR process, coupled with creativity, your PR engine will be unstoppable.
Is your company doing this already? Do you have any suggestions on how firms should structure PR outreach and manage press releases? If so, leave a comment below. We're eager to hear what you've got to say!