With sincere thanks to Jill Harris, of Lester Communications, Editor of Piledriver and Piling Canada Magazine, and to Scot Litke, Executive Director Emeritus ADSC International Association of Drilled Shaft Contractors, and former Editor of Foundation Drilling Magazine, for their contributions to this article.
Construction is largely a word-of-mouth industry. The construction industry media is an opportunity to get your company’s activities read, re-told, and amplified. However, it starts with a press release to pique the interest of an editor or editors.
Per Jill Harris, publisher of a number of construction industry magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada, including PileDriver and Piling Canada magazines for the deep foundation construction industry. “In terms of bang for your buck, press releases are effective yet inexpensive ways to generate publicity. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been inspired by a press release to write a full-blown article on a particular topic or company.”
If you write a release about your project, company development, or general news, and put it on the radar of popular construction industry magazine editors, there’s a good chance that within a few months, people in your construction industry sector will know what you wanted them to know. Not to mention, creating “reach” for your brand and capabilities, and directing info seekers towards your products and services, are benefits and the effects of strategic use of your news on the internet. That’s the goal – but first things first.
Writing the Release for Editors
If your release doesn’t provide the basic facts or compelling information, no editor will be inclined to read it, much less publish it. Answering the questions, “Who? What? Where? And How?” will serve the basics of a press release. However, there is more to it. The idea is to craft and present a press release that makes editors say. “Hmmm…”.
How? Why is this newsworthy? Maybe an innovative idea that saved the project thousands on the budget, or days on the schedule? An unforeseen circumstance that demonstrated your company’s ability to think on its feet? Is it difficult, limited access work that made it special? Perhaps it utilized a unique equipment application? You know what’s important in the construction world – write about that.
“If you aren’t sure about the quality or substance of your press release, just ask the editor you’re sending it to for guidance or feedback. Most editors – especially for smaller title publications like many niche construction magazines – want to be helpful.”
– Jill Harris
Think of editors as “gatekeepers” to get your story to the wider industry audience – you need to “sell” the gatekeeper with your title and content in order to get your release material considered for publication.
Typical industry practice is to attach the press release as a PDF to a cover e-mail addressed to the editor by name if available. (An e-mail merge and database (or excel sheet list) can be very useful for this process, and save time.) A brief cover message to summarize the contents of the release is appropriate here, however, the keyword is brief. You might provide a link to a website where you have the press release posted, however, if the editor does not know you, they may be hesitant to click an unknown link. Therefore if you publish your releases to a website or service, if you provide a link, we suggest you attach the release as a PDF as well.
When sending an press release via email or any other electronic means whenever possible include a personal request to the editor of the publication to publish with a very brief statement as to why the information will be on interest to their readers. If you know the person’s name send it directly to them with a brief request to publish the Release. If not, a “Dear Editor” salutation is better than none at all.
– Scot Litke
If you need assistance creating press releases, visit the Construct Marketing Content Builder.
Content Builder is a tool to help compile the facts and details for construction project copy that can be used to assemble a press release or other written content.
Components of the Release
Title – This is the title of the press release. Capture the main idea for the editor, and answer the question, “Why should anyone read this?” You may also choose to include a subtitle on the next line that offers a little more context. Keep in mind that the editor may decide to write a new title should your news make it to publication.
Introduction – Introduce the subject of the release in the first paragraph. This is for quick scanning purposes and if the editor wants more, they will keep reading.
The Body – Encapsulate the main idea or subject in the second and possibly third paragraph. Support with facts, details, and quotes and build the narrative over the succeeding paragraphs. If you start to go over four paragraphs, you’re getting a little long. You might consider including a quote or two from your President, PM, or a relevant partner or client in the body of the release.
Conclusion – Condense and summarize the piece in the conclusion in the final paragraph.
Support Media – Help an editor help you. Editors want photos. Readers want photos. Therefore, include a few supporting photos with the release and advise that more are available upon request. Reference any other supporting multimedia that might be available.
Contact Info – Include your contact information at the foot of any release.
“Always include a: “For further information contact…”.
Provide a name phone number, email address, or at least,
“visit www.ourwebsite.com for further information” at the bottom of the release.”
– Scot Litke
Company info – Assume the editor knows nothing about your company and include a brief “who, what, and where” statement about your company following the release itself to help an editor understand what your company does.
1. Press releases are not commercials. They are to be written in the third person and any commercial overtones are likely to get your release rejected.
Per Editor Jill Harris…
“Editors understand that you believe your company is the leading company in whatever it is that you do,” said Harris. “However, overtly promotional or competitive language like that will most likely be edited out of the final copy. If the entire press release is promotional, it’s likely that an editor won’t be able to use it at all. In that case, you’re better off to purchase an advertisement.”
Per Editor Scot Litke…
“While Press Releases are by nature “promotional”, present the information in such a way as to be subtle about the promotional character of the message. Therefore when crafting the release, present it as information that will be of interest and of value to the publication’s readers.”
2. Once you send your press release to an editor, your control is effectively over. An editor may choose to print it verbatim or scrap it and use it as a news lead. Often, the outcome lies somewhere in between, using some of your copy as well as researching and writing their own. An editor may choose to assign a writer to “flesh out” the piece to meet the editorial requirements of their publication, their own preference, and the space they have to work with.
3. Get to the point. This is not an article. A well-written release is concise, professional, and to the point. Give your press release the best chance of success by presenting a focused and succinct release. Typically, press releases are around 250 to 300 words long.
Insight from editor Jill Harris:
“When sending your press release to an editor, be sure that the subject of the release is relevant to that editor’s particular publication,” said Harris. “While it’s easier and faster to blast your release to every editor on your contact list in one email, you’ll make much more valuable connections to industry editors if you invest a little bit of extra time to ensure that you aren’t wasting theirs.”
Insight from editor Scot Litke:
“When sending a press release via email or any other electronic means, whenever possible, include a personal request to the editor of the publication to publish with a very brief statement as to why the information will be of interest to their readers. If you know the person’s name, send it directly to them with a brief request to publish therRelease. If not, a “Dear Editor” salutation is better than none at all.”
Don’t Just “Do a Press Release”. Look ahead.
It should be fairly simple to assemble a list of industry publications for your target audience. What do your clients read? Editors’ names and often their email addresses can normally be found on a magazine’s masthead, or on the website.
Most small title industry editors are happy to get regular releases and opportunities to fill their pages. A small list of editors that you can develop relationships with, for the purpose of sending periodic releases, will serve as an engine to promote your company. Who to put on the list? Easy. Ask your customers what they read. Managing a small list of regular editorial contacts shouldn’t take too much time or require much maintenance. The dividends it can pay are enormous.
Who to put on the list? Easy. Ask your customers what they read.
One option is to post your release in Construct Marketing’s NewsRoom. Construct is happy to direct our focused list of construction industry magazine editors to this page when we have fresh news.
See: Construct Marketing NewsRoom.