Companies and organizations can become so focused on trying to get hard news coverage that they can forget how powerful a good feature story can be. Becoming a source for a feature story can pay huge dividends.
What is a feature story? It's not fluff, although features can be light hearted. Features are often about hard news topics, but they focus on a particular aspect of the topic.
For instance, a hard news story has to do with the lack of economic development in your downtown area. A feature might focus on one business owner's struggle to keep her store open. A hard news story is about declining test scores in your schools. A feature might be about an after school tutoring program that's having success.
Why do they work?
We're living in a time of ever shortening attention spans. People are making snap decisions about whether to read this article or watch that video.
Same holds true for members of the media. They are inundated with emails throughout the day, many of which are press releases or advisories clamoring for their attention. Most of these same reporters rarely pick up the phone, so trying to call them to make sure they saw the release is fruitless.
The key, then, is to offer them something in the first eight seconds that will cause them to continue reading just long enough to consider the news worthiness of your release.
That's why the headline, the secondary headline and the opening sentence of the press release are so important. Here's why.
The story was straight forward. I was able to quickly glean the facts. I glanced up at the byline and saw the name of the reporter who wrote the story. Great news. I knew him.
Suddenly, the question of how we might help a potential client was made a whole lot easier by the fact that we were on a first name basis with the reporter. In the world of public relations and public affairs, relationships matter.
Are you still operating on the old rules for press releases? Marketing expert David Meerman Scott suggests the internet has transformed the role press releases can play in the digital economy.
No more should one assume that the only people who will see their press release is a select group of reporters and editors. No more should you simply wait until they've had significant news before issuing a press release.
And, no more should you judge the effectiveness of your press release on whether the traditional media write a story about it.