Art of The Press Release, Julia Hidy – Podcamp 2013
March 5, 2013 | By Rob Campbell
Julia Hidy is an author, and senior business consultant, speaker and multimedia content creator and boutique marketing agency owner. She runs Julia Hidy Marketing and her #1 specialty is writing and distributing press releases. Julia’s press releases are works of art and very effective; it’s not the only thing she does, but it’s what she does best.
She has been doing it for more than ten years. Julia Hidy was once the voice box for three billionaires and two dozen brand managers. Those were the days when she would regularly fly across Canada and back again in a weekend, spinning news and events on both coasts. Ten years ago the press release was the ubiquitous vessel for spreading business news, and Julia was in high demand as one of Canada’s most skilled corporate wordsmiths.
As a freelance marketing professional Julia has always worked closely with the editors, account managers and the principals of her favourite press release distribution agencies including businesswire.com (a Berkshire Hathaway company), and prnewswire.com, prweb.com, and others. Julia really knows how to get the most from a press release. She tracks distribution, and amplifies her outreach with social sharing tactics.
Julia Hidy, Secrets of Writing Powerful Press Releases
Julia Hidy started her Podcamp Toronto session, at 4pm on Saturday February 23rd 2013, by saying, “…When you have a few million dollars a year in sales riding on a trade show where you have to connect with industry buyers, you need to seriously think about setting up regular, well thought-out and professionally executed press release campaigns.”
She described a scenario in which she can see her audience reading her fresh releases at the perfect time, and in the perfect place (reading on their mobile phones) digesting the message as they enter cavernous trade show environs.
Julia likes to send really important press releases between the hours of nine and five on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday only because she is convinced that Monday is too busy, and Friday is already the weekend for so many editors.
What is the news?
Content should be written and positioned so that C-level executives will find it relevant. The calls to action should be aimed squarely at top decision-makers who will know exactly why they would want to purchase and recommend your products, services and solutions.
The author must also consider how the story will play out when the next writer reads the transcript and rewrites the text in their own narrative – what do you want them to say? Will the message be relevant in news media? Or on blogs, or in radio interviews and podcasts? How could the message be adapted to better live in those mediums? Prospects should be given real examples and good reasons to consider your company as the solution to their business needs.
Julia adds that press releases MUST be written using the correct industry format. They must have proper margins and accepted layouts, and be well-written, concise, factual, and the facts must be accurate and, above all, quotable; journalists, producers and editors often won’t take a chance on a press release that they can tell was written by an amateur. It loses credibility and reputation is everything here.
Julia Hidy, tips on pitching editors
When pitching a story to editors you have two sentences maximum and timing is everything. Do your research and find out when a paper publishes, and then strike when the moment is right, in the middle of the news cycle. Have relevant material ready to address the right person in the right way at the right time.
Editors do not like opening documents attached to email, especially PDFs which have been known to contain malicious code. Julia recommends intriguing a news media publisher by sending him or her a simple email with two sentences of content which contain the five Ws. Every press release must have who, what, where, when and why and its highly recommended to put these essential elements up top in the opening two sentence paragraph at the very beginning of the dispatch.
PR professionals will often take the time to create a backgrounder and the truly exceptional professionals will create and distribute a video backgrounder because these contrivances are proven to be many times more effective at spreading the word about a company.
Another tactic of experienced PR professionals is to team their small corporate clients up with another larger firms to issue a joint press release. In this scenario, both companies can combine forces to issue news of a product or event wherein they have mutual interests.
Follow Julia Hidy on Twitter @Juliahidy
Post by Robert Campbell on Mar 4, 2013