It's fine to write a press release, but understand that the traditional press release, more often than not, is going to function much like that letter you wrote to your ex. It was good to get it all out, but you know better than to send it. Think of the press release as a resource, not as recourse. It's no longer best practices to launch a general release and sit back and wait for the media to come running. Media rarely run. Instead, consider the following:
- Become familiar with your desired target publication - whether it is a blog, a fashion magazine, or Oprah. Read through several issues, make notes on story ideas that make sense for your client, sleep with it under your pillow. Pretend you had to describe the magazine for a friend, or to a potential advertiser - do you have a good handle on what they are all about?
- Pay attention to who is writing what - did an editor let slip that they are expecting a baby? getting married? a fan of travelling to Kathmandu? Think of yourself like the Indian Raja in the Little Princess - that secret, surprising gift-giver of delight - what is it about your product that will make this editor's day?
- The goal of every great fashion publicist is to develop long-term, positive relationships with media. Instead of sending the same release every day for a month, position yourself as a resource. Example: A fashion blogger bemoans her inability to find a good pair of yoga pants that last through more than 3 washes. Even though you don't have a yoga pant making fashion client, you are obsessed with yoga pants and know of a great pair you think she will like. Take the opportunity to send her an email sharing your insider knowledge. Quickly mention that you are a publicist with clients X and X. Wish her the best of luck and go about your day. Most likely when you do have a pitch you think she would be interested in, an email from you will merit a click.
- When it is time to make that carefully targeted media pitch, suggest specific story ideas that fit in with recurring themes in the publication. Take a look at that initial press release and paste in those pieces that are relevant. If the publication is geared toward a budget-conscious shopper, focus of the value of the item; if the publication is higher-end, focus on the fact that the product is hand-sewn and can be ordered in cashmere; if it's a green blog, mention that the dress is organic cotton and that 10% of proceeds are donated to Greenpeace. Make it easy for the editor to see exactly how the story will fit, and give her easy access to information, images, and expert quotes so writing the article becomes simple. This is how you develop relationships and build your reputation.
Thinking about media relations as a one on one conversation helps to clarify why a general press release is better left unsent - highly targeted, relationship-driven, well crafted story ideas are your best ally. Good Luck!
(This post was featured as a Coutorture Must Read for May 9)