Gather all the information you need for your press release

Gather all information you need for your press releaseYou’re launching a new kitchen gadget – how big is it?

You’re promoting a big event – what are the start and finish times?

You’ve got a special offer on – what telephone number do customers ring to speak to your sales team?

Obvious details, but these are so frequently missed out from press releases.

I give up

If somebody wants your new gadget but has a small kitchen, will they be put off because they don’t know if it will fit?

If someone wants to attend your event but works shifts, will they not bother because they don’t know if it will end before they have to start work?

If someone wants to take advantage of your special offer, but your receptionist doesn’t know who’s dealing with it, will they just give up?

All this does happen.

Gather all the details you think customers will ask for:

  • time
  • date
  • place
  • price
  • dimensions
  • phone number
  • web site
  • email
  • specific information relating to your press release topic

Gather details in advance

Don’t wait until you come to write your press release, because hunting down the information often takes time. Gather details in advance.

And if you are including a quote from a customer, supplier or other source, obtain this in advance and make sure they approve it before you send out your press release. Obtaining approval is often the longest part of the process. You often find people are in meetings, away on business trips, on leave or sick and no one else has the authority to approve the quote. You can’t risk them not giving approval in case you have accidentally misquoted them.

If you have all your facts, figures, details, contacts and quotes ready, you can write your press release and send it out on schedule, confident that it answers most reasonable questions customers are going to ask.

How sure must we be of facts?

If a customer asks for a written quotation, most businesses will honour it, even if they attach a time limit to it.

If a customer places an order on the basis of that quotation, they’ll very likely get angry if they get charged more or lots of extras are added without warning. Depending on the wording, they could even take the business to court if they had been misled.

Is there any difference with PR? Not really. Even if what we say is vague, people are likely to remember it and hold us to it. If we maintain we made a spur-of-the-moment remark, it does our reputation no good to withdraw it. Will people trust us again? Probably not.

That’s why it’s important to ensure that information we give out publicly – in a press release, article or spoken interview – is accurate.

Don’t be tempted if you’re not sure

Sometimes journalists will press for figures, especially if they seem impressive. It can be very tempting to blurt them out, like a bee unable to resist sweet honey, but the negative publicity if we get it wrong could be damaging. We could say our profits had increased by 15% and then find they had actually fallen by 5%. Not a good idea.

And remember not to mention sensitive information, especially if it has to be approved by a third party. If a partner organisation or customer or supplier finds out that we have given out information about them that they considered confidential, it could be disaster for our business.

We need to be sure of our facts before making them public.

Keep data at hand

If you find it hard to remember details, create a one-page summary of key information about your business or specific projects on your laptop, tablet device or phone or print it out to carry with you so you always have it to hand.

Build a checklist for details and data into your PR plan so that it becomes part of your business process and you are always prepared for journalists’ questions.

And remember that in the long run it is usually better to say we don’t know the answer rather than fudging it and looking stupid later.


Up-to-date details

Everything seems to change faster these days, although in reality fashion has always been fickle. Nevertheless, when you publish business information with technical details, prices, dates or statistics, these seem to need updating almost as soon as you look away.

At least with web sites you can often alter details fast. Details to review regularly could include:

  • range of products – have some been withdrawn or are new ones available? Have specifications changed?
  • prices – have these gone up or down and what about the rate of VAT applicable?
  • dates – do adverts for events now passed need deleting or archiving?
  • special offers – are these still applicable or should details be removed?
  • copyright notices, terms and conditions – are these up to date?
  • employee names and titles – are these current? Has anyone left or joined who needs to be deleted/added?

While it is usually easy to amend web sites, printed material can cause more of a problem. If you produce a large annual brochure, it could be expensive to reprint and distribute an amended version just two months after launching the original. Such publications need careful planning to consider the options of a separate, smaller price list that can be reprinted at minimal cost without reproducing the whole brochure.

What is most important is to have up-to-date information available at all times and to show that you review and amend your material regularly. Changes to information also present opportunities to communicate with potential and existing customers to tell them about new products, events or special offers. By letting people know you have updated your web site you can attract more visitors to it and generate more sales.

After our last blog, are you focusing on what you can actually do now to develop your communications?

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