Last week we had the wonderful James Hood come in to train our Content and SEO teams on the best practices in PR and press releases. James is the creator and former Editor of Fine Sussex magazine, and also the founder of Convey Consultancy – who offer content creation and consultancy.
We’d like to thank James and Convey for taking the time out to let us know about their P.R.E.S.S. formula for approaching editors and getting online/print coverage. It was a really insightful session that will help our team get even better results for our clients. So helpful in fact that we thought we’d share some of James’s top tips with you.
P.R.E.S.S. is an acronym for each of the stages you should take when going about PR in the ‘right way’. Although James has dispelled the myth that there is one clear set way to get press coverage, there are still some practices that everyone should go by. They are:
DO – Speak in the language of the publication.
DON’T – Send mass emails, it’s just not personal.
The biggest tip here is to make sure to edit and adapt what you’re sending depending on the receiver. There’s no need to stress when it comes to press releases, as there is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all”. We’ll talk about the structure a bit later, but the main thing here is to make sure the email you send is personalised to the editor.
Make sure you find a name, read the around the publication to see their style and the type of content they publish. Editors are very busy people so the subject line of the email needs to include ‘keywords’. We’re not talking about SEO keywords, but the ones that are relevant to the story you’re trying to pitch and the website you’re pitching to. This will be the difference between the email getting opened and ignored.
DO – Ask yourself “what’s my story?”
DON’T – Assume that everything you have to say is relevant.
Before you start, you need to have a really clear idea of what your story is and who will care about it. Just talking about the new Chairman of your company isn’t something that people will want to read, however fabulous you think it is. Editors recognise that people like real and inspiring stories, so delve deeper into your company and find something really worth sharing.
When you have a clear idea of your angle and you begin writing, you really need to make sure that it cuts straight to the chase. Think about the reader, and how long their attention span will last when there are other stories to read. Catch the attention of the reader and the editor early.
DO – Keep everything simple.
DON’T – Use lots of formatting and images.
If the editor has chosen to open your email out of the many they get a day, you’ve got yourself quite far. But this is where it could go really right or really wrong. Keep in mind, like the reader, the editor just wants you to get straight to the point. Attach your article as an editable Word doc to the email, and make sure it’s just in plain text with a bold headline. That’s right, keep everything the same colour, no underlining or random words made to be bold/italicised.
As we said before, an editor is busy and works to a lot of deadlines. Make sure to keep everything so simple that they can edit in 10 minutes and go straight to press with your article. A good tip is to attach two or three high-res images to your email too, as this means they’ll have everything they need and won’t be discouraged by having to chase.
Simple to read
DO – Use a ‘human’ voice.
DON’T – Use industry jargon/over complicate things.
This part is all about the article. Make sure it’s simple to read and fits the language of the publication you’re looking to get coverage on. Imagine you’re a printing company looking to get an article on a website that is read by small businesses who will be looking for business cards. They won’t understand all the ins and outs of a printer and how it differs from a laser printer, nor will it necessarily benefit them. Keep it relevant.
In short, write as if you’re talking to a friend… but not too colloquially. Write the article on terms that others will understand whilst keeping it professional. Include a logo at the top of the doc, and keep sentences under 30 words.
DO – Do something good for someone else.
DON’T – Bombard editors with self-serving articles.
This is the last and one of the most important points. You could follow all of the above steps and get the email opened and your article read, but if you aren’t selfless the likelihood is it may not be published. Be a storyteller. If the company was established in an interesting way this could be interesting. Or look to generosity and team up with another business or a charity, take your ‘new shiny thing’ and make it into an event or story that can be talked about. This is a lot more interesting than just broadcasting new services.
If you’d like to find out some more about SEO and digital marketing, follow us on Twitter for our frequent updates: @BritWebLtd. Be sure to check out Convey Consult’s Twitter account too for more top PR and content tips: @Convey_consult.