Are you among the thousands of businesses or agencies trying to land your news in publications across the African continent? At APO Group, we have years of experience in this field so read on to find out what your press release should look like, what it should say, how it should say it, and when to distribute it.
Keep an eye out for our key tips as these should smooth your path to success!
What is a press release?
A press release is generally an official statement (written or recorded) that an organization issues to the news media and others who may be interested. You should write it in a newsy, straightforward way, making it easy for journalists to imagine it as an article on their news site.
Your heading should briefly explain the announcement and the first paragraph should answer the who, what, why, how and where, but try and keep your release short – no more than two pages. At the end of your release, include “###” to signify that the release has ended. After this, it is always a good idea to include your media contacts and a short bio or boilerplate about your company.
Types of new releases: New Product Launches, Mergers and Acquisitions, Product Updates, Events, Grand Openings, New Partnerships, Rebranding, Executive Promotions/Hiring, Awards
A reliable format to follow looks like this:
- Include your contact information at the top left corner of the document and “For Immediate Release” at the top right corner of the document.
- Write a compelling headline. Use action verbs to grab the reader’s attention while keeping it short and specific.
- Make it interesting. Reporters receive lots of press releases everyday so make sure yours is compelling and to the point.
- Convey the news value to the press. Add details and direction to show them why they should tell your story. Use a quote to help bring the story to life for the reporter.
- Demonstrate the relevance and context behind your story through sharing background information in the press release.
- By the last paragraph, the reader should have all the key details regarding your announcement. It’s now time to strengthen your narrative by showcasing creative or interesting ways your company has developed the project in question, or revealing the future implications of your announcement.
- Another good way to add value to your press release is by using newsjacking: a process of relating your press release to something currently going on to make it more valuable to the journalist and reader.
How to secure interest with the media?
The best way to land your release across media in African markets is to follow their preferred processes.
- Step one, make it clear as early as possible in both the headline and body of the press release (1st or 2nd paragraph) that the press release is about Africa or about an African country.
- Step two, provide images. Press releases issued with at least one image generate 20-30% more pick-up than those sent without. Make sure these are JPEGs or PNG files, at least 1,000 pixels in a 16:9 ratio (horizontal) and include a caption citing who is in the image, or where the image was taken and by whom.
- Step three, consider extending the usability of your release across other platforms, such as social media. Share soundbites (MP3 format, no background noise, two minutes maximum in length), presentations, infographics, and even videos (YouTube links or MP4 files).
- Step four: don't let the content be too company specific. If a press release only concerns internal matters of interest about your company, it is less likely to get published than a release which is also about the industry as a whole. Your annual financial report is less likely to garner interest than a report indicating that business has increased in your particular industry overall by 20%.
- Step five, language. In Africa, more than two thousand languages are spoken, and this should be considered when disseminating releases. Avoid disrespecting the media you are targeting by ensuring you have a translated version of your release delivered in their language.
APO Group has released a Language Search Tool, which includes all 54 African countries. The Language Search Tool will show you which languages are spoken in the areas you are targeting for your press release, or other public relations activities in Africa.
When to distribute?
To help PR professionals plan their press release distributions in Africa, APO has released a Calendar of non-working days in Africa.
There are a few simple scheduling tricks you can deploy to ensure you click send at the most opportune time, including:
- Make sure you are issuing your release on a working day in the region you are targeting
Issue your release early in the week – AVOID FRIDAYS.
- Issue your press release first thing in the morning. Factor in the various time zones across Africa: there are six in total from Cape Verde to the Seychelles and you can check your timing by bookmarking this page timeanddate.com.
- If your release is not ready until the end of the day (or on a Friday), rather wait until the next morning (or Monday) to click send. People in the media are not likely to check mail at night or on Fridays, so your email has a higher chance of getting lost.
Useful links and examples: