Some articles have the potential to be of interest to a wider audience. The article may stretch across disciplines and fields of study or we may want to reach an audience that is not traditionally academic. In cases like these, press releases allow us to maximize the coverage and readership of particularly interesting and accessible articles.
To capitalize on the potential coverage press releases give to articles, editors are encouraged to work with their journal’s marketer to source articles that are potentially newsworthy. With the expertise of their field, coupled with the knowledge and awareness of forthcoming articles, editors are perfectly positioned to highlight potential articles ahead of publication. Indeed, time is of the essence with press releases. Last week’s news is tomorrow’s history, and editors are encouraged to notify their marketer as early as possible.
But what makes an article “newsworthy”? Naturally, articles concerned with a subject currently in the news often receive press release attention and tend to perform well. For example, a press release for a Hydrological Sciences Journal article, “Flood risk and climate change: global and regional perspectives”, launched early in 2014 when the U.K. experienced unprecedented flooding, helped contribute to the article achieving 7,000 full-text downloads and featured in U.K. newspapers. Results have also shown that papers focusing on human interest research, such as psychology, or scientific discoveries varying from medicine to new animal species, have been particularly successful when promoted through press releases. For example, a press release for a Journal of Natural History article about a new species of soil mite has generated over 15,000 full-text downloads and resulted in the article becoming the journal’s most read paper.
Topics that have the potential to affect many people also lend themselves well to press releases. A press release entitled “The chemical compound contaminating your Friday night glass of wine” written about research published in a Food Additives and Contaminants: Part A article detailed the potential health implications of wine packaging. This article led to an author-journalist interview and featured on several science news websites such as Medical News Today and Science Daily. It also led to the article receiving over 3,000 full-text downloads in just a week. The above examples were all deemed “newsworthy” for a variety of reasons but each had press releases written for them to ensure this news reached as many people as possible.
Sometimes it is the marketers themselves who spot these papers, other times (as in the Food Additives and Contaminants example above) the editor notifies us ahead of the article being published online. This is ideal, giving the marketer enough time to have the press release written and launched to coincide with the article being published online, capitalizing on its newsworthy potential. Articles likely to have an impact in both the academic and public realms are particularly encouraged.
The press releases can target as many as 5,000 journalists at national and international publications and are often distributed on media wires and news sites. Often, they are supplemented by promotion on social media or in subject emails and news bulletins to internal contacts. Some editors take a more active role, furthering the efforts of their marketer by engaging with their own university or organization’s press office/officer (if they have one) and encouraging their representatives to also disseminate any press releases.
Press releases provide a platform for editors to work with their journal’s marketer to widen the potential audience for particularly newsworthy articles, increasing the readership and visibility for the journal. If you notice any forthcoming articles that you think could be worthy of press release attention, contact your marketer and help put your paper on a pedestal today.
For more information, read the Editors’ Bulletin article “Effective use of press releases in the marketing of academic journals” by Matt Peck and Andy Hall.