How to Handle Breaking News in a Press Release

November 9, 2020

All press releases should be written and sent out as efficiently as possible, of course, but every now and then a high-stakes story requires law firm marketers to push out a release at warp speed. How can you make sure the stressful yet exhilarating process of breaking news goes smoothly for your firm?

Plan ahead. Don’t wait until you are facing an urgent deadline to create an internal firm approval process for extraordinary stories. While a typical press release might have to be approved by multiple partners, that process may be too slow when every minute counts. Marketing directors should streamline the procedure by identifying one media-savvy partner who can issue approval on an urgent release. If a reporter calls for a quote, who should speak for the firm on this issue? Capture and distribute the breaking news plan in writing so that everyone understands the sequence of events and the role they will play. With a plan in place, you can avoid last-minute scrambling and get the job done.

Even under stress, maintain quality control. Urgent should never mean sloppy. In fact, quite the opposite. A press release on a high-profile story might be used as the basis of multiple articles and interviews, so it’s crucial to ensure the content is accurate and well organized. Here are some best practices:

· Write an effective headline. Be direct, and frame the story in the way you hope it will be covered.

· Make it newsworthy. Who, What, When, Where, Why, How?

· Use quality quotes. Make it easy for the reporter to understand the stakeholders’ points of view.

· Keep it concise. Provide time-strapped reporters with everything they need to know in 300 to 500 words.

Prioritize distribution. Keeping your regular media list up to date and organized by industry is great (and you should definitely do that!), but drafting dozens of emails or using a mailing tool to do a batched send is not the most efficient way to get your press release into the right hands. Instead, prioritize the most important and relevant reporters and outlets with a quick send to keep the momentum going. Be ready to follow up immediately on any response you get.

There’s nothing like a high-stakes story to raise the marketing department’s blood pressure. But with the right planning and strategy in place, your press release will tell the firm’s story and catalyze favorable coverage.