Press releases announcing personnel appointments are a mainstay of public relations. They may not always be earth-shattering news, but they fulfill important PR purposes. They keep your organization on the top of the minds of journalists covering your industry. They can gain exposure for the organization in the business section of the local newspapers and on websites of local broadcasters. They can be repurposed on other platforms and shared on social media. If done well, a press release for a new hire or promotion can lead to larger stories, especially when involving high-level personnel.
It’s easy to fall into a pattern when writing personnel announcements, but a formula often leads to staid content. With some creativity, PR can add pizazz to what’s normally routine content and win the attention of journalists and customers.
These are the most important elements of well-done press releases announcing a new hire or promotion.
Background information. Although the new hire’s background is available on his resume, a short interview may reveal information that is more valuable. Ask about trends in his area of expertise and connect them to the niche industry or local area.
The impact. Describing the impact of the personnel change to the local community or industry can help the release evolve into a larger story. To do that, consider what the change means to a new product, department or overall organization, and then connect that information to industry trends and consumer needs. Although summarizing the person’s background is a prerequisite, showing readers why they should care about the news is especially valuable. For example, how will the new hire work to resolve a common problem or challenge readers face?
New hire quote. Obtain a few quotes from the hire on their new responsibilities. You can also get a few quotes about the community where they will be living, especially if they are new to the area.
Executive quote. If the new hire is an executive, consider adding a quote from the C-level executive who will supervise the person. The C-suite executive can praise the new hire and say how their background will benefit the organization and its customers. While most executive quotes bore readers, vibrant executive quotes can add flair to news releases and other PR content.
A head shot. Placing the person in front of a plain, light background will avoid distractions such as windows or antennae. It’s possible to take high-quality photos, and even videos, with a smartphone by following some basic photography tips. While most PR pros email the photo as an attachment, some send a link to a downloadable file from your corporation’s online newsroom.
Creative photos. Although corporate headshots were typically formal in the past, headshots now try to reveal personality. A photo of the new hire in action, especially interacting with high-level personnel or customers, or using the organization’s products or services, can help show the organization’s culture and distinguish the release from others. “Today we see more personality in headshots,” says Cheryl Smithem at Charleston Public Relations & Design. “While this is good, consider the outlet that will include the image and make sure there is congruence between the outlet’s style and the style of photo you send them.” Providing links to multiple headshots can be helpful, allowing publications to choose the style most appropriate to them and to individualize the press release.
Promote your organization. The news release both introduces the new employee to the world and informs readers about your company. Briefly describe the company in the release and include a section with a more in-depth description, or “boilerplate,” at the end of the release.
The headline. Including the organization’s name and being succinct are essential for headlines. You can also play around with the words to create a catchy headline. If your organization is conservative, you might want to avoid catchy or gimmicky headlines and stick with a straightforward one. “On the other hand, if you work for a creative-type firm, explore a headline that reflects your company’s reputation,” writes Ruth Mayhew for Bizfluent.
Media pitching. Creating your list of media outlets before you send the release will improve distribution of the release. Observing where media outlets run personnel announcements can help identify proper contacts. A spreadsheet of media outlets, their contact information, and their requirements for image file formats and other submission preferences can improve your success in placements. Remember to follow recommended tips for media pitching. You can send a generic release to outlets that run releases as is. Tailor the release for others: Lead the release with a trend or issue the newly hired expert cited that’s relevant to the publication. Take into consideration that concerns and issues differ for local publications and trade journals.
Repurpose. Repurposing the release can get more mileage out of the content. Because many print newspapers have disappeared or drastically reduced their pages, businesses have fewer earned media opportunities to publicize their new hires. However, the internet and social media offer new channels for promotion of press releases. You can modify and expand the release for a company blog post or a video interview, focusing on trends in the executive’s areas of expertise. You can also announce the news of their hiring in social media posts and relevant group forums on Facebook, LinkedIn and other networks. In addition, trade journals and other niche publications often accept personnel announcements and offer a valuable PR channel.
Media monitoring. Monitoring of media outlets and social media with a subscription media monitoring service will show what outlets published the news, how well the announcement spread on social media and gauge the overall PR impact of the news. Seek a service that monitors the full range of news and social media, has good keyword filters to eliminate irrelevant clips, and can send customized alerts. An integrated media monitoring and measurement dashboard can organize data for all PR campaigns and all types of media into a single interface.
Bottom Line: Although personnel releases are routine, following best practices and completing extra work can ensure the press releases gain attention and sometimes even help them evolve into larger stories. Explaining how the new hire will work to resolve challenges facing readers can expand the release into a story that will gain the media’s attention.
This post was originally published on Sept. 23, 2015, and updated on Nov. 2, 2018.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.