Press releases, deservedly, get a bad rep. I say "deservedly" because who really remembers that fantastic, timely, well-written and well-executed press release they got? And I say that assuming it's relevant to your beat and what you actually write about? Because, let's face it: Most press releases are shoveled out to publicist's email lists like they're coal for an engine. They don't care who picks it up or where or even when – they want the heat. I am not intending to sound reductive or even saying that all publicists act this way. But it's certainly something you should consider as an entrepreneur, if you want to hire an outside agency to help spread the word.
I understand you can't vet every single lead and have super-tight relationships with every writer there is. (Although, Inc. Well Contributor Guy Wicke penned a piece recently about becoming friendlier with the ones who can help you the most.) But it behooves you as an entrepreneur to understand the methods being employed by the very people you've hired to be the face of your company.
PR Daily has a good list of common-sense tips that are worth checking out if you're hustling yourself or are hoping to someday get someone else to hustle for you. They run the gamut from finding more interesting ways to frame your news ("talk instead about the customer problems [you] solve") and focusing your message ("specificity and relevance are your best friends in today's information and attention marketplaces").
But, I will say this: Not everything in this post should be taken as Gospel. I would think long and hard about the way you choose to interpret this:
Another tried-and true way to get more press release views and results is to include a photo—or, even better, video. Images and video capture the reader’s eye and get preferential treatment in many search engine and social algorithms. For these reasons, it’s not surprising that press releases with multimedia get better results.
All this depends upon how you define "include a photo" or video, and what the "better results" are you're trying to get. Because I know, and any of my colleagues will back me up, that including a photo, video or any other attachment in your press release is a surefire, proven way to get it ignored or at least get the writer annoyed at you. Attachments clog up your inbox. They also choke people's time if they show up unasked for. Not everyone is as computer-savvy as you might guess – which means 20-megabyte files might show up, and they might just be two pictures. And even though it might not be you, the business owner, sending those files, the writer will most likely remember you as being part of what stopped up their email inbox. Whether it was you or the publicist on your behalf – it's still, sort of, you, in a way.
So, do your homework and ask the people who you're getting to represent you to the media about how they work – and if they understand how attachments work.
If it's absolutely imperative to send out media with a release, include a link to where the writer can download it. If you're not expecting a ton of hits, Dropbox's free hosting is perfect for quick-fire releases.
David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.