“I could see myself building an entire story around that quote. A quote is so great
and compelling. And what makes a great quote is just something that cannot
Dr. Barbara Hales:
A lot of people think that they know what press releases are. But how do they work?
Press releases are generally just an announcement to the media choosing a third person. You might have an interesting “quote” in there, where you put in quotes.
The most important aspect of a press release is the headline because,
especially if it goes out over a news wire, that’s generally the way it’s broadcast. You
drill down from the headline, and usually, the headlines are arranged by industry feeds
and things like that. So the distribution that he releases through email to journalists
would be a good fit for it. But we also do the distribution through a news wire. And some
people are familiar with a news wire. They think of AP, or UPI, or Reuters. And those
are news wires that write everything that appears on them. They license their content to
newspapers and websites and things like that. So that’s how they work.
They will take a press release, but they’ll never run a press release. They will rewrite it so that they control the copyright and information that way. The news wires of press releases, PR
Newswire is the oldest and largest, and that’s who we work with. There’s also business
wire and globe Newswire predominantly in the US.
Dr. Barbara Hales:
You mentioned that just now about the news wires that take a look
at the press releases but then rewrite them as a person submitting a press release,
would you have to pay them to rewrite it?
No, they are acting just as journalists that the goal of a press release
is to have it turned into an article. And for the AP Reuters and UPI, those types of wires,
they work by writing an article. And rather than a newspaper, like your local newspaper,
paying someone to write all of these articles, they license it. So instead of having one
writer that might do six articles a day, you can afford the same budget to have 30
articles because you’re licensing it from a source like that. They mostly are just rewriting
articles that are of general interest.
For the most part, they might be breaking news.
They might be more national or international. Most of your local journalists will
predominantly write about stuff that’s more specific to you, for which there is no place to
get that through a wire. So there are more locally specific. If your industry is massive on
a particular topic, you might see articles that revolve around that a little bit more. So
they’d tailor it and supplement when it comes to the national, the breaking news.
Dr. Barbara Hales:
They’re probably a few things that are more frustrating than writing
a press release that you think is something that many people would be interested in.
And the media doesn’t think so, and it doesn’t get run. So how do you recommend
writing a press release that the media would want to develop? Then blast out?
I always say, envision the press release as content. And would this
be of interest to a journalist audience? The journalists’ job is to act as a gatekeeper.
And so they’re trying to curate content that they feel their audience is going to be
interested in. So you might think that what you’re announcing is very important to you.
But would it be necessary to the audience? And if not, could you make it more attractive
to the audience?
Is there a different angle than you could take? Or is there content that
you could add that would make it more relevant to an audience? I always say try to
reverse engineer from the perspective of an audience member of what you’re writing
and try to make it captivating or interesting to them. And you’ll have a better response
from journalists looking at your release and turning it into an article or several.
Dr. Barbara Hales:
So on the flip side, why do so many press releases fail?
I think it’s the subject matter. It’s rarely the writing of the press
release. They’re very simplistic for the most part. I used to think that the more perfect
the press release, the better your chances. And I don’t think that anymore. I think that
your effort and resources, and creativity should go into what it is that you’re announcing.
That is where most press releases fail. Many press releases are personnel changes, a
prelaunch of your product version 2.7, or something like that. I even see press releases
that a website’s now mobile responsive. And that rarely is news that’s worthy of being
turned into an article for most people.
Of course, suppose you have a major personnel change, where you’ve got someone
that’s lauded in the industry, and a lot of people you know will be interested in that. In
that case, you can undoubtedly do a press release on that. But for the most part, you
will be better off just taking that press release or that announcement and sending it
directly to your local newspaper or local business news publications. You’re lucky
enough to have one and maybe a couple of key trade publications if there’s. By
reaching out to just three or four people yourself, you’re going to have probably just as
good odds as sending it out through a wire because very few people are interested in
those types of press releases.
Local Media Coverage
Dr. Barbara Hales:
Well, how do you get free local media coverage for yourself?
Local media is the easiest media for anyone to get. And I always tell
people who come to new releases looking for that to do it themselves. If you think about
it, there are probably less than ten people in your local area that would write about you;
there might be a person that your local paper.
If you have a business magazine, or a business newspaper, probably one person there, do your research, see who generally writes about businesses like me or my profession. And then reach out to the outlet and ask for their email address. They’ll give it to you. It’s not a magical thing or a firewall that they’re trying to prevent you.
Journalists are very accessible because they want stories. They want to be accessible
to get that breaking news or that “hot” story. You might have minor papers or weekly
community papers. Those could be a good outlet locally. There might be radio and TV
programs that occasionally spotlight organizations or individuals on a particular topic.
So again, do your research on the radio and TV.
It’s usually not the host you’d want to reach out to but the producer or “the booker” of a particular show. So again, you’d call in ask for their email address. And then, once you have a Rolodex of generally less than ten people, you would email them naturally, as you have milestones and things you want to announce.
Try to be a little more strategic.
An excellent way to do this is to look up Google Alerts of your profession, maybe from
people you know in other cities, and when you see them in an article, you can then pitch
a similar article to your local media. You wouldn’t tell them, Hey, I saw this somewhere
else. We should steal it and use it. But what we’d say is, I’ve noticed that doctors who
volunteer in Latin America have gotten some coverage in the past and other
publications, and I feel like I would be a great fit here. And to discuss the initiative that
I’m doing, which is what we’re doing that’s positive. You don’t even have to write a
In these instances, you’re just pitching the story. I do say that if you have a compelling
quote, go ahead and include that because a lot of times, a journalist will look at a story
idea and say, That’s okay, it’s not great. But then, if you have great quotes, they’ll say, I
could see myself building an entire story around that quote. A quote is so great and
compelling. And what makes a great quote is just something that cannot easily be
paraphrased. You set it in a way that has a little song to it or just really compellingly cuts
to the matter, and often you can say something in the first person that you can’t get
away with. And then, in the third person, be willing to be emotional, be ready to be
emotionally charged. And those are all ways, I think, in which you can elevate a quote
that may Whoa home into something a little more extraordinary.
Dr. Barbara Hales:
That’s a great tip. Now, there is something that I’m wondering
about. And that is, in the past, some marketers put out press releases for professionals
with just staff changes or new techniques that they were doing that would not be of
much interest to the general public, but they do it so that their rankings are higher on the
search engine pages. Are there still sites where you can do these press releases where
you don’t care how many people are looking at it. You want the search engines to see
I don’t think that press releases in and of themselves do much for
SEO. That being said, if you do a press release, and then you get a dozen articles were
written about it, articles that are unique and original content and they’re usually
excellent sources. They’re members of the media. So that does help your SEO. But the
syndicating of press releases used to be this practice where you’d send a release, and
you get a couple of 100 links, sometimes you could put as seen on NBC, ABC, these
minor affiliates and things like that. And you know, people still do that. But it doesn’t
help you from an SEO standpoint; it might help you from a credibility standpoint. But my
goal with eReleases is to get original content. We’re looking for original articles. Like
CNN covering you in an article, New York Times, and maybe local media as well, if it’s a
release that can stand the test of going out nationally, as well.
And I always say, if there are things that you can do to make your release more
strategic, including facts and figures. There’s a lot of numbers out there, and they can
help ground a press release. You may want to consider putting together a small survey
or study in your industry. And that is generally considered very, pretty newsworthy, and
people cover that as well. I’ve helped a lot of clients do that, who consider themselves
completely non-newsworthy. And I’m like, “Well, a survey or study is a great way to get
out there. And to get some media pickup.” Generally, with a good survey, you’re looking
at 8 to 16 articles written about you. I’ve seen a few of them that I’ve seen considerably
more, but that’s usually the standard of what we see. And you can use a service like
Survey Monkey that makes it very easy to build it and then collect the results. I would
always advise you to include questions that are relevant right now. If you can take the
temperature on your industry right now, that’s important during this entire pandemic and
the unknown that lies ahead of us.
Many people are interested in what people are feeling and where they’re spending their
dollars right now. So if you can take your temperature on your industry right now, are
they hiring? Are they not hiring? Have they curtailed marketing? Have they increased
marketing? Those are all things that would be relevant in a survey or study right now.
And anyone can do that. Some of my clients are like, I don’t know who to send a survey
to. So if you don’t have a ready-made audience for it, let’s say you want to get other
doctors in your profession, reach out to a trade association. The smaller and the
independent ones generally are more responsive to this and ask if they’ll send a survey
to their members. You’d be surprised how many will email it and share it on social
media that survey. You may want to mention that you include them in the press release
that you’re doing. The small and independent trade associations don’t get a lot of love.
So if you’re willing to publicize them a little bit, they see it as a win-win. And it also might
help boost your credibility when you are publishing the results of the survey.
Another thing you may want to consider is throwing in one or two left-field questions
because sometimes the results from those can be fascinating. They may not be
statistically relevant, but we’ve had an auto repair shop in Pennsylvania survey
independent auto shops across the US. And they just had a field that was room for a
couple sentences saying what’s the strangest thing a customer left in your car. And
when we did the press release, we mentioned around up of, I think we collected 60
some interesting little anecdotes there. And those were the ones that went viral. People
really found those fascinating, these strange, odd little things that were boa constrictors.
Grandma left in an urn, and they had to retrieve for the memorial amid a repair. And you
can see the quality of human interest that.
We love stories. We love things like that. So it really resonated. Now, they had many
other good results in the survey that were interesting, but it was definitely those that
made that survey and study go viral. And there’s no reason you can’t do it yourself.
Many people are like, well, I’m just one person. I’m not an industry expert. And believe it
or not, the people who are industry experts, when they started, they were in the same
boat. They just put themselves out there and shared their findings, their opinions, and
that’s how they got started.
So, I encourage anybody to claim a little bit of the news
that’s out there available for you. And that’s a really great way to do it. And even if you
don’t do your own survey, I find taking statistics that are just publicly available or maybe
a little hidden in your industry and bringing them to light in context to what you’re
announcing can also enhance it and improve your chances of media pickup.
Creating Newsworthy Articles
Dr. Barbara Hales:
Well, what fun and great advice. PRWeb, who I guess maybe one
of your competitors offers a package where people could pay for a certain number of
press releases. But of course, that doesn’t necessarily always translate to earth-
shattering news that they would be putting out. Do you work the same way? Are you
strictly helping people put out newsworthy articles?
No, we pay to have a service where you pay-per-press-release, and
you can lean on us and chat with our editors or give us a call. We don’t have any
salespeople. And we’ll walk you through the process. We’ll review a press release if you
have one ready. We work with PRWeb’s parent company.
PRWeb is an online visibility service. It doesn’t reach journalists. So it’s one of those services that sort of syndicates you to a few websites. You’re available in the search engines, but it does not reach the media directly. Cision, which owns PRWeb, also owns PR Newswire, and we work with PR Newswire. They are a service that goes feeds directly to newsrooms and goes
directly to journalists. So that’s a big difference between the two services. A lot of
people who use PRWeb have the assumption that they can get media pickup. And
occasionally, I’ve seen a media outlet or pick up something from PRWeb, but if you’re
not reaching the journalists directly, your pickup chances are lower. It’s designed for
that online visibility, which I think isn’t important as these days. And I think that the goal
being to get articles. You’re want to have that connection and reach the journalists
Creating a PR Strategy
Dr. Barbara Hales:
Well, something fascinating for our listeners is to know that you
have created a free video masterclass on creating a winning PR strategy. Can you tell
us a bit of that?
Sure. So basically, I put together a video. It’s a little less than an
hour, it’s very accessible to anyone. And it’s designed to do an audit of you do your
business, what you’re about in the eyes of what could be newsworthy. And I took
several examples and strategies that my clients use with success and brought them
down to how they might apply to your business. If you were to take advantage of that,
I’m pretty sure you can build out a PR campaign of four to six releases that are
strategically more important than the average press release.
It’s available at eReleases.com/plan. It’s completely free. I’m trying to get my customers
to take it. So they start doing more strategic press releases, they have better results.
And I stopped seeing so many press releases about, you know, Alice in HR, who’s gone
from associate to administrative HR assistant or something like that. Those releases are
fine, but I hate people paying money for those because I know they’re not going to get
picked up. And with the same amount of money and capital you’re investing, you could
do something a little more exciting and have the chance of getting actual media pickup.
Dr. Barbara Hales:
Well, I will be putting the link in our show notes. So for all those
people that say, “Wait, what did he say? What did he say?” You will easily be able to
see it in our show notes and then click on it. It seems like a precious resource. I strongly
recommend that listeners go and check it out. And I can tell you. I’m going to so you
know that being a little piece of advice, I’m going to do it. I suggest that you do it too.
Well, thank you so much for being on our show today. This has been another episode of
Marketing Tips for Doctors with your host, Dr. Barbara Hales. Until next time…