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George Ellis
Junior account executive at NottsPR.com
George Ellis

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Despite the rise of digital media the humble press release remains a key tool in the battle to win national media coverage. The good news is that every businesses, no matter how small or what sector they operate in, has lots of stories to tell.

Journalists are busier than ever but still need stories to write and content to fill web pages. It should be a marriage made in heaven – yet all too often businesses fail to capitalise and score free publicity for their business.

The reason for this is usually because the business has pitched the wrong kind of story without a strong enough hook to interest the media. If this has happened to you it may be time to reflect and ask yourself who is the best person to write the next press release?

If your business is looking to increase its brand awareness through print and online media, then a strong press release with an engaging story is still a highly effective way of getting yourself noticed. But with so many stories being sent to media outlets every day, it can be tricky to successfully write and pitch a release that appeals to both the journalist and your chosen demographic.

Assuming you understand what a press release actually is and why it remains an effective marketing tool. The next question to consider is who should put pen to paper / finger to keyboard and actually write it?

So who is the best person to write the release?

How about the business owner? After all no one will know more about the business or be more passionate than the owner themselves.

But being passionate and knowledgable about a business doesn’t necessarily mean that the owner is best placed to write the release. For starters they are often busy with a million and one other tasks and promoting their business in the press becomes something they don’t get around to – often because they don’t really feel comfortable or know how to tackle the task.

The mistake that most inexperienced business people fall into is believing the media will publish a free advert for their business. But if your press release is too sales driven it is likely to be met with the response: “Speak to our advertising sales team.”

There may be someone else within the business who has the necessary skills? It could be a good idea to get the team together, discuss the work you are doing and brainstorm possible angles for media attention. If someone in the team can spot a strong hook for the media in the work you are doing then why not let them have a go at putting the story together and pitching it in to media themselves? Give them an opportunity to shine and show you a whole new skill set.

It is worth remembering that understanding whom the release is for and which media outlets should be targeted is vital to making sure your content reaches its desired audience. A story can be written in a variety of ways to cater to different audiences, and having someone who knows how to appeal to your chosen demographic is crucial to making sure the release reaches the right people.

If an in house marketing officer or other team member is given the task of writing the press releases for the company then they must balance the firm’s need for promotion against the journalist’s need for a good story. If they issue a release that is too self promoting, it’ll simply be deleted as advertising spam. They must appeal to the journalist’s need for a story first and then include the company’s key messages second.

If a business concludes that the in-house team need help with press releases they can be outsourced to an agency or freelancer. An outside consultant can help in a number of ways, either by offering simple advice such as helping you workshop hooks for your future stories, or taking the whole process on and coming up with a full PR strategy for you to approve.

Freelancers can be very cost effective and there are some good ones out there – although make sure they have experience of writing for your target publications. If you want to win coverage in the national media it is going to be a challenge for a freelancer with only regional press experience.

An agency is likely to be more costly, depending on which services you engage them for. But the return on investment is also likely to be greater. They will be doing this every day and so should have a highly skilled team who specialise in getting companies featured in the media.

Most agencies will welcome a call to talk the project through without any obligation. So it is always worth giving them a ring or dropping an email and asking for some free advice. Even if you then decide to keep the press release writing in house, you are sure to get some valuable pointers from the professionals. The friendly team at Notts PR are always happy to have a chat.

If you want to pick the brains of the UK industry leaders this link will take you to all the contact details of top PR agencies.