Press releases are a fantastic tool for PR professionals, they can get your brand’s messaging and your business school’s research in numerous publications – including top tier. But this only happens as long as they are crafted effectively.
CISION have released an eBook with advice on creative ways to amplify your news beyond the press release, offering advice to PR professionals who struggle to get coverage from just sending out your standard press release.
According to the report, 42 percent of PRs said that ensuring their story reaches the right audience is their top challenge, and 36 percent claimed that making their release stand out is their greatest challenge. This is because gaining the attention of journalists can be hard to achieve and, while I agree with this, I personally find reaching the right target audience easy!
Here at BlueSky Education, we understand that journalists are buried under emails. Many of the people that work here are also former journalists, so we understand what journalists experience. For that reason, we are very cautious with who we send our press releases to, and tailor our lists specifically to who we wish to receive the press release.
We create specific lists on media databases and this allows us to send the release to the journalists we have carefully selected. As a result, we often have a very high success rate with press releases.
When it comes to the second challenged identified, I understand it can be hard to make your press release stand out. But it usually all comes down to writing of the release itself, making your releases concise, no more than 400 words, and with a killer headline, will help you to gain the attention of journalists.
My advice would be to consider these tips and suggestions first, before moving on to what CISION next suggest you should do:
Convert your press release into sponsored content
CISION believe that sending a press release out takes time and resources, and may not result in the coverage you hope to achieve. Sponsored content is something I believe is actually not needed or is a follow-up to earned media coverage. When it comes to sponsored content, I can secure an opportunity for my client in most publications in a news article that will be seen as genuinely earned and deserved, before it would ever need to be paid for.
CISION says that sponsored content builds trust and credibility for your message, and they support this by saying that 81 percent of consumers say they trust content that appears on a publisher’s website. Now, that stat doesn’t comment on how much consumers trust sponsored content. This is because, in my experience, most people prefer articles written by journalists who have chosen to share insights because they genuinely believe they should be understood by their readers. It’s a third party validating your school or spokesperson, which makes consumers trust you.
I would like to add that CISION have featured further advice which is helpful to PR professionals.
CISION suggest that PRs create a multichannel release, this is when you accompany a press release with visual content such as images or video.
Not only does multimedia bring a unique and visual element to your story, we know for a fact that journalists are often looking for multimedia elements to use in their stories. In other words, you're giving journalists even more incentive to cover your press release.
They also suggest turning your employees into brand ambassadors, and this is something that universities and business schools should definitely be doing. Your faculty is one of your biggest assets, and by having them promoting their research, articles, programmes, and initiatives the school is doing in the media and on their own personal social channels will be well-received and perhaps boost the organisation’s social channels too.
Prospective students really do look these things up on social when deciding where to go to school, so for them to be able to see their potential professors, or even the Dean, active on social media, it makes the school more appealing to them.
CISION’s eBook does offer good advice to PRs, but here at BlueSky Education we know exactly what works specifically for in PR for business and higher education. So, if you’re a university or business school interested in doing PR, you should get in touch, we’d be more than happy to discuss your goals and how we can help.
Katie is an Account Manager at BlueSky Education.
She is an education communications specialist with journalistic flair thanks to a degree in Multimedia Journalism and a stint as a reporter at the Financial Times.