Every business has a great story to tell. No matter if you are a small, family-owned business with two motorcoaches or a midsize bus operator, a well-framed story in a press release can help you attract media attention, better connections with new and existing clients and increased awareness within the motorcoach industry as one of the innovators behind it.
Why press releases are central to your media strategy
From the print to the digital age, press releases provide a single source of truth for what a company wants to say about every product, service or event they deliver. They fuel nearly every positive news story or social post you see. In a 2019 global agency study, 85% of journalists said they had read a press release in the past 24 hours, and more than 30% utilized press release information when writing their stories. So, always treat your press release as an opportunity to communicate your exact message. They exist to tell a story — your story.
Build your nose for news
Winning positive coverage for your business means thinking a little bit like a reporter. As you read and watch the news in your community and on a national level, learn to spot news that impacts your customers and community. For example, ongoing driver shortages during COVID-19 are affecting the entire motorcoach industry. How is your business dealing with this problem? Are you keeping drivers on your team with ongoing safety training, good benefits and pay? If so, that’s a story you can tell in a press release.
Transform client experiences into bigger stories
If clients are talking about a great trip you provided on their own social media, that’s source material for a great customer service story for your business. Note Airbnb’s client testimonial campaign. Create a press release to tell the value of your tours and group travel experience, highlighting any dialogue — with permission — that discusses service beyond expectations. Also, try to partner with your clients and leverage their media strategies. If you are the exclusive carrier for your local bank’s travel club program, see if their marketing department might be willing to co-develop a story you can share. High-profile destination ventures also are newsworthy.
Don’t overlook your own story
“Evergreen” topics, like the history of your business, your charity work, big contract wins, the purchase of new equipment and route expansions may attract local media attention. Don’t ignore the growth of your business as a story.
How to write and leverage a press release
As with a news story, the most important elements of a press release are the headline and the “lead” — the first paragraph of the story. Good leads keep readers reading. PRNewswire, a subscription online new service used by public relations and journalism professionals alike, publishes hundreds of press releases daily. Check it out.
Do a search on the fundamental elements of a press release to learn its basic structure, which always closes with a company bio and contact information. Keep other elements in mind:
- Quotes. A good quote in the form of a profound, bold statement, explanation or prediction from a leader will add credibility to your message and may also land in a reporter’s lead, headline or photo caption. This means the public is more likely to see it.
- Visuals. Remember to distribute JPG photos with captions or relevant infographics, prepared ahead of time to accompany the release. Consider this even if inviting media to an event that’s days away.
- Events and awards. Take advantage of business, cultural and industry award nominations for your business, drivers and staff. Issuing a press release when you win these furthers your publicity efforts and standing in your community.
- Paid exposure. More business journals, local TV and radio programming are offering what’s known as paid media opportunities. In exchange for a fee, you can leverage your press release content into story material you’ll have control over.
Media contacts. Press releases need somewhere to go. Build a contact list of target reporters on the local, state or national level (as appropriate for your business) to receive your releases. After emailing the release to contacts (as discussed in this recent B&MN article), follow up by telephone with the news outlet or reporter to build rapport and answer questions. Be helpful — not pushy.
Don’t neglect your own social media. Be sure to post your releases on your own social media channels for exposure to your main audience.
One last thing. If you don’t feel confident writing your own releases or creating your own media strategy, get help. Public relations professionals work for companies of all sizes.
Patricia Plodzeen’s career in publicity and media relations spans decades, including 24 years at MCI. She supports industry clients including Vicki Bowman’s VB Group, which provides marketing, event and association management services industrywide. Contact Pat at firstname.lastname@example.org.