Join Lorrie Thomas Ross for an in-depth discussion in this video Picking a topic, part of Writing Press Releases.
The first step in writing a press release is selecting your topic. It's essential to be clear on why you are writing a release before you start work. When marketing efforts start from a place of purpose, the execution is more powerful. If you're targeting the media your topic must be news worthy. Picking a topic may sound like a no brainer but the step is often where the writing block starts and writing that release stops. Don't let topic selection overwhelm you. Newsworthy goes beyond content that warrants being reported in the news.
Newsworthy topics can include announcements, events, educational information, product launches, reaction to other news or something having a specified influence or effect. When you look at news this way, you will likely have a lot more ah-has about content that happens at your organization. Select a topic by thinking not about what you want to promote, but what is important to educate people about. Releases aren't for you. They're for your target reader. What do you need to help others understand? When you focus on content that is important to educate your audience about, this will help you keep your focus on the facts, all while keeping the release material interesting and helpful for the target reader.
Marketing writing doesn't have to be stressful. To help keep your marketing writing focused, think markeding. Marketing with an educational approach. When you approach communications from an educational perspective, it takes the stress off as well as makes the focus meaningful. For example, the Landon hotel in San Francisco, a fictional company created at lynda.com, hosts visitors from around the world but they also have a great gathering place for community activities and calls to activism. It is important for their business to educate the local community as well as global meeting planners who want to book a meeting room in San Francisco.
The press release topic in this case would be educating about the available meeting room. There are several ways to approach a release about the events in meeting room. The Landon Hotel donates their community room quarterly to groups like the local PTA. While they're not looking to boost more pro bono use, they could do a news-worthy release about how they donate the room as part of their corporate give back program, and include a powerful testimonial that addresses the value of the room, amenities and location, which could indirectly educate other meeting planners about the space.
Another topic approach is to do a more general news release that announces the available room for meetings and events. Since the concierge and events director have asked for messaging with general facts to send to interested parties and the room is still new. A general announcement release will be what we use as the topic example. This topic will multi task to give the sales team a helpful communications tool as well as help get more content on the website to boost search visibility. Online press release topics could include company news, new product releases, educational thought leadership about a current event, educating people above and beyond what the media is sharing while linking your brand to news that's being buzzed about, sharing recognitions and communicating stories that help people understand your brand better.
Topics are defined based on purpose, and they can also be dictated by timing. Holidays, seasons, and other media news can drive topic ideas for press releases. Before you start writing, address the who, what, when, where, why, how, and who cares points as it relates to your topic. There is a brainstorm sheet in your exercise files for this course that you can use. These points will need to be woven into your release. Having them all noted helps you plan and execute better.
- Picking a topic
- Defining your who, what, where, when, and how
- Writing a title
- Writing a quote
- Writing the body copy
- Distributing a press release