Press Release

How to Squeeze Newsworthy Press Release Topics Out of Clients

Brad Shorr

Brad Shorr

This is a guest post by Brad Shorr,  Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, an Internet marketing agency in Chicago that provides SEO, PPC and web design services. With more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience, Brad has been featured in leading online publications including Entrepreneur, American Marketing Association and Forbes. 

Press releases are still potentially powerful for PR, as well as for branding, lead generation and SEO. As a professional SEO agency, we love to issue client press releases, but run into the same problem you may have — not being able to come up with newsworthy topics.

Since most clients have great news to share but don’t have the time or focus to spot it, here are ways you can help them get out the message in the form of a solid press release.

Talk to Human Resources

If there’s one thing people are interested in, it’s people. Human-interest press releases — news about employees who have achieved something notable on or off the job — tend to get a strong reception, as long as the achievements are significant and/or unusual. Who would know about such accomplishments? The human resources department. Topics to ask about include:

  • Have any employees received advanced degrees and earned top honors?
  • Have any employees made a noteworthy contribution to a charitable cause or community initiative?
  • Have any employees won major athletic events such as a high-profile marathon or triathlon?
  • Have any employees won industry awards or recognition, or have been featured speakers at high-profile industry/business events?

Human resources directors or staff members should be eager to talk to you, as they will recognize the value of sharing this kind of news.

Talk to Sales Management

Another spectacular source of news stories is the client’s sales department. Like human resources personnel, sales managers should be eager to share newsworthy stories — but they really need your prompting because they tend to forget about them after the sale is made. Topics to ask about include:

  • Have you sold a product/service for an extremely unusual application?
  • Have you sold a product/service that transformed a customer, took its business to a higher level, turned failure into success?
  • Have you introduced, or are you about to introduce, products/services that are transformative or disruptive within your industry?
  • Have you expanded into a new geographic market or vertical?

Note that these topic avenues avoid internally focused news such as salespeople who won a company award. That type of story is often top of mind to the client, but is not that interesting to the market as a whole.

Talk to Operations

People that manage the factory floor, the warehouse and the office may have interesting news — and never been asked about it. Operations input could be a hidden gem as a source, so ask:

  • Has your company recently been awarded any patents?
  • Has your company achieved any noteworthy certifications for manufacturing, safety, etc.?
  • Have you recently implemented, or have contracted to implement, significant new software for CRM, ERP, etc.?
  • Has newly implemented software led to significant, measurable improvements in your operation?

Topics along these lines can include quotes from the certification issuer, software manufacturer and other third parties. Try to get those quotes; they will add enormous credibility to your press release(s).

Make It Easy for the Client

To respect your client’s time, make yourself look professional and improve the efficiency of your probing efforts, make conversations, phone interviews or email exchanges revolve around a questionnaire document. Once you’ve identified the appropriate contacts in human resources, sales and operations, get their permission to send them a list of questions similar to the ones I’ve noted in this article, along with any others of which you can think.

Also, be sure to ask for their “other” ideas — once you get them thinking, they may surprise you with ideas on topics that never would have occurred to you.

One more thing: An important side benefit of this process is establishing more client contacts. This can only help you maintain your relationship with the company as changes occur in personnel. Happy topic hunting!