How To Anticipate Public Reaction When Writing A Press Release

Press releases are a great way for your brand to communicate with the public. Whether you’re trying to raise awareness for an event, business, or some other announcement, sending out a press release lets you take your listing from obscurity to acclaim.

Understanding how to anticipate and manipulate public reaction is critical to properly executing a press release. You need a piece of content that elicits a deliberate and productive public response, or the entire process will have been in vain. This brief guide will help you to predict and control the public response to your press release.

Factorial Forecasting

Factorial Forecasting is a simple, functional measurement methodology developed by David J. Weiss of California State University. The basic idea of this two-step approach is to ask specific questions about the advantages and disadvantages someone must face by acting on the intentions of the release, and the odds that either advantage or disadvantage will occur.

[pullquote]If you are able to, the best way to initiate this methodology is to conduct a survey of your intended audience.[/pullquote] However, attempting to answer these questions yourself as objectively as possible can also lead to some relevant observations.

Ask yourself, “What do I stand to gain by endorsing, attending, or investing in the subject of the release?” as well as, “What do I stand to lose?”

Once you understand the stakes of your release, you need to consider the variables that will influence the odds of the advantages or disadvantages.

This deceptively simple process is backed by extensive consumer research and has been designed to actually reverse the public’s cognitive process. When a user sees a press release, they’ll automatically consider the stakes. So if you consider the stakes first, you can better anticipate what public perception will be, and you can create a release that more effectively leads to your desired result.

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Media Impression

Press release writing is formed across two mutual collaborative agents: the subject and executor of the release. In layman’s terms, both you and the journal containing your release will inform the content of, and response to, your release.

Consider the typical public perception of each journal and contemplate their subject areas.  Select one that tends to have the same public effect you want for your release. The brand image of a journal will tell you a couple of things to expect from the public response, such as the likely audience of your release, the scope of this audience, and (with a little bit of research) the typical reaction to similar content released by this journal.

Understand The “News Value” Of Your Release

An important factor in the success of your release and the public perception of it is what the “News Value” of the release will be. Remember, your release will be presented as a piece of journalism. So the “News Value” of your release will largely inform the public’s reaction.

Does your release break some new development in a local story? Does it contribute a new element to the local culture? [pullquote]Essentially, you need to ask yourself, what possible value this release will present at a purely journalistic level.[/pullquote]

If the public views your release as hard-hitting journalism, they might react to it one certain way. Whereas if it reads more as a cultural exposé, the public will react to it differently still. The public isn’t voluntarily reading your release because they love reading advertisements; they’re reading it for its tertiary journalistic value. Properly understanding the “News Value” of your release can greatly help you to predict the public’s reaction.


Public response is informed primarily by the presentation of your release. The perceived stakes will determine whether readers react positively or negatively. The nature of the journalistic medium releasing your piece will inform the public of the associations to your release. And the alleged “News Value” of your release will inform the extent to which readers enjoy and appreciate the content you deliver.

It’s impossible to predict the future, but these considerations will help you begin to predict what people will think of your release. Understanding the likely response to your piece should tell you what you’re doing right and what you need to change. Don’t leave anything up to chance; consider the public’s response before they’ve already responded.

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How To Anticipate Public Reaction When Writing A Press Release

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