Regardless of what kind of business you are operating, publicity is going to be the key to your successful business, products, or services. Press releases are a one-page story about your business or an event that is occurring or perhaps has occurred. Press released are generally submitted to a wide variety of media groups including, local newspapers, radio, television, trade publications, and internet news sources.
These media groups do not generally look at press releases as a way to give free advertising and boost your business but rather they are in the business of presenting news and other useful information to it’s listening or reading audience.
Understanding what the directors and managing editors of publications are looking for, can assist you in writing a press release that is likely to be not only read but also broadcast.
BENEFIT OF A PRESS RELEASE
As I mentioned, a good press release can sell your product or service without the expense of advertising. It can give your company a positive image with the public. Finding your company newsworthy on a ongoing basis gives your company credibility and helps you rise above the competition.
A press release gives potential clients a close up look at your offer and can even rally public support in favor of your cause or product. Media publicity can also provide unexpected opportunities as you are reaching a wider audience than you normally could.
WRITING A COVER LETTER
You should always include a cover letter with your press release and address it to the person who has the final say in what will be broadcast or published. Keep the letter short and to the point. Always include the date at the top of the letter and on the press release itself. A press release will not be printed unless it is dated, timely material is important to an editor. Next, tell the reader that the content material is original, new, and why it would be of interest to their viewers or listeners.
Some advertisers feel that a press release should be printed on color paper, I suggest that you keep it simple. Stick to white paper and black ink printed on a high quality printer. Type your cover letter on letterhead for a professional look.
The last point I want to make about the cover letter also applies to the press release and could be the most important tip in this article. Proofread. Proofread again! Typographical errors and punctuation problems will tell editors that you are unprofessional and will likely find your article in the trash. Try reading your copy backwards. This method will force you to read every word and more likely catch mistakes the automatic spell check may miss.
COMPOSING YOUR PRESS RELEASE
Some publications have writers guidelines that you should be aware of. Publications may prefer submissions to be double spaced or require specific document lengths. However there are some general guidelines you should follow in the form and style of the release expected by the media.
PRESS RELEASE should be typed all in capital letters at the top left hand margin of the page. On the same line on the right hand side of the page you should have all of your contact information typed including your address, phone number and a-mail address if applicable. Skip a couple of spaces and in the left hand margin type in capital letters “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:”.
Next, type your headline. Headlines should be an attention grabber to attract the editor’s interest using the least amount of words possible. The headline should give a hint as to what the article will be about, a teaser so to speak.
As you start to type your article keep in mind that your press release should start with a positive statement about how your product or company is going to benefit the community. A press release is for all intents and purposes, an advertisement. Advertisement content should be interesting and written in cohesive simple sentences avoiding excessive hype.
If you are having trouble getting started with the body of your press release, use the old familiar “5 W’s” Who, What, Where, When and even the How if applicable. Begin with the most important part of your topic and go from there. Editors will cut the least important things out of your press release and it is easier for them to work with your piece if the meat of your article is at the beginning.
Type “-30-” at the conclusion of your story. This is a standard procedure used at the end of news stories and will show the reviewing editor that you are familiar with writing protocol.
WHO IS YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE?
If you try to reach everyone in the market your advertisement message will probably get lost. Try to tailor your thoughts to a specific target audience where your product or service can best be of benefit. If you are looking at a national audience, you may even need to tailor your press release for the readers of that specific publications readership.
To make your press release more personable for your target group you can include the name of the city or state you’re located in the heading of your article. Identify with the needs of your audience to give it human interest and stick to the facts when reporting your story.
Adding a picture to your submission can also help you connect with your target audience. If you want a caption on your photo, write it on a piece of paper and tape it to the back of the picture. Printing your picture and article is at the editors discretion and will also depend on the amount to page space the publication has available at that time.
I suggest that you make a follow up phone call to the managing editor as an inquiry to make sure your story has been received. Some publications will have a deadline date that you can ask about but small publications will publish, space permitting, within 2 weeks from your submission date.