Public relations

When to issue a media release, use an embargo and offer an exclusive

- October 17, 2022 4 MIN READ
breaking news media release

When it comes to PR, a key factor is dealing with the media when your business has an important announcement to make. Kathryn Van Kuyk and Anthony Caruana, co-CEOs and co-founders, Media-Wize, explain when to issue a media release, use an embargo or offer an exclusive.

What is a media release?

When dealing with media, one of the most commonly used tools is a media release, or press release if you’re only dispatching to print media targets.

A media release is a written statement that tells the media about something your small business or startup is doing or has achieved. It might be to announce the release of a new product, a funding injection, significant customer win, survey findings, an event, opening in a new location, hiring a prominent person, or something else that is newsworthy and may be of interest to a wider audience.

It’s important to understand that a media release itself is no guarantee of media coverage. But that doesn’t mean it’s not valuable.

A media release is part of your company’s history – it’s a record of significant events. It’s a reference tool that can be used by media outlets for months or years to come. Even if it’s not used immediately, a well-crafted media release is a tool that can help create and foster relationships with key journalists. Just because a media release isn’t picked up for a story today, it may still be used in future as background information or to establish a timeline of events.

When should you send your media release?

There’s an entire science dedicated to working out what time of day is the best to send your media release. But let’s start with the basics.

Take a look at the calendar and do some research to see when events or announcements that may compete for coverage are happening.

For example, when Samsung releases its flagship smartphone each year, in about February, it sends media releases and associated announcements about a week before Mobile World Congress – an event that has almost every other phone maker releasing new models and announcing new features. They intentionally schedule media releases to come out at a time when they won’t be competing for coverage. Governments, interestingly, distribute media releases on things they hope won’t get much coverage or notice on a Sunday.

When planning your press release distribution, avoid times when you’re likely to be drowned out by other events. For example, In Australia, the Federal Budget is released in May. That’s not a good week to get the media’s attention as journalists are working on stories related to the budget. If you’re in the tech space, releasing anything when Apple is about to announce a new product is a sure way to be missed in the traffic.

Look ahead and look for a day and time when you’re less likely to be drowned out.

When it comes to the time of day, it is best to dispatch early around 8am to 8.30am to reach chiefs-of-staff and news desks before they determine what will make that day’s news. It is always best to dispatch on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday and try to avoid Thursday and Friday, because if journalists don’t have time to move on your story by week’s end, it will be viewed as old news come the next Monday morning.

media press release newspaper

A word about embargoes

Some media releases come with an embargo – a date and time before which the release should not be reported on.

There are times when this is a legitimate tactic. For example, if the media release pertains to a time-sensitive event, such as an announcement being made at a conference or the launch of an online product, then it is reasonable to ask journalists to hold off on publishing a story.

But you need a solid reason for the embargo. The main reason embargoes are broken is because many of them are pointless.

It’s also important to understand that simply writing ‘UNDER EMBARGO’ in the email subject does not obligate the journalist. Unless you specifically contact the journalist and ask them if they would respect an embargo, with good reason, you can’t expect someone to agree to something just because you tell them in the subject of an unsolicited message.

A word about exclusives

There are some major national newspapers in Australia that will rarely report on news, especially from startups, if they don’t get the exclusive to break the story first. While this might seem like a good opportunity for your business, you need to consider a couple of things first… Are the publications the right audience for your products or services?  Do they regularly report on startup and small business news and are your customers actually reading them? Or could you be better served by offering your story to a niche publisher instead?

By offering a national publication an exclusive, you are likely bypassing your chance to be featured in other media outlets. as most niche publishers will pass on the story if it has already run as an “exclusive’ elsewhere.

If you do plan to offer an exclusive remember the journalist/ outlet will set the timeframe for when the story breaks and is released

Following publication you can take your story to other media outlets that cover news without needing to have the exclusive on it, such as most trade publications.

It will take patience, as it may take weeks from when you offer the exclusive till when they have space to publish the story, and they will want to do an interview and get quotes that are different to what is in the media release. They are looking for something special and if you can build this into your timeframes, then you can maximise the chance of success.

This article first appeared on Kochie’s Business Builders, read the original here.

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