Getting your business in the news is (usually) a good thing.
None of us can forget Gerald Ratner’s faux pas that destroyed Ratner’s Jewellers, but for most of us, any news is good news.
And the way to get your company and yourself featured in the news is to send Press Releases.
However, the vast majority of Press Releases end up being ignored and thrown away because they fail to follow the fundamental rules of Press Releases.
That’s what I’m going to share with you here.
What is a Press Release?
A Press Release is a news item sent by a business or organisation to the media. Its purpose is to alert the journalist about some topical news that may be of interest to that journalist’s audience. You could send your Press Releases to the local newspapers or radio and television stations, or even to the national press. You could target trade magazines or general interest magazines. The media outlet you choose will depend on your story and your own reasons for wanting a higher profile.
Why send Press Releases?
When your Press Release is picked up and used it’s free publicity for you and your business or organisation. People take much more notice of editorial than they do of advertisements. Press Releases are like advertising on steroids – but they mustn’t sound like advertising at all.
How to Write a Press Release
Firstly, and most importantly, you must have a Story. You must have something that’s newsworthy in the opinion of the journalist or editor concerned.
Look at the media. What sort of stories do they publish? What seems to interest their readers or listeners? Can you make your story fit?
If you don’t have a story then there’s no point in sending in a Press Release about this non-event. It’ll just end up in the bin!
So, let’s assume you do have a story. You do have something that will be of interest to others and get you a bit of publicity at the same time.
Then writing Press Releases follows a formula. Follow that formula and you’re in with a better chance of your release being read and used.
Title: Press Release or Press News. This identifies what it is to the journalist or editor you’ve sent it to.
Headline: Short, simple, to the point summary of the story.
You want your headline to catch the eye of the journalist and make him want to read on. And if it’s a good headline it could well be the one that gets used in the publication so it’s worth making it interesting to the publications readership too.
Don’t try and be clever in your headline – it seldom, if ever, works.
Keep it short – preferably less than 10 words. Imagine it’s a newspaper headline – be brief.
Summarise the story so the reader knows the gist just from the headline
First paragraph: Brief, to the point summary of the whole story.
This is the who, what, where, why and when. What’s happening, who is involved, where is it happening, when and why is it happening. Keep it short and simple. This paragraph is probably just one sentence, but if that sentence will wander on and on, cut it into two or more.
Second and subsequent paragraphs: Flesh out the story. Give more details. Include quotes to make the story come alive.
When your Press Release is cut down for space reasons it will get chopped from the bottom so order your information from most important to least important.
Call to action: If you can, include a call to action within your Press Release. But, remember, this is News NOT advertising so you can’t blatantly plug your business – that’s one of the quickest ways to get it deleted.
End: At the end of your release put ###END### or something similar to indicate this is the end of the Press Release part.
Background info: If applicable, you can append additional background information after the end of the Press Release. This can give the journalist more information if they want to expand the story, or it gives them further avenues to investigate themselves.
Contact details: Include your name, address, email address and phone number (plus cell phone if possible). If the journalist can’t contact you when they’re interested in using your release then they’ll move onto something else.
How to submit your Press Release
These days most Press Releases are emailed to the editor or a particular journalist at the media you wish to target. You could fax or post your release if you wish.
If emailing, include the text of the release in the body of the email. Nobody likes attachments and since they often carry viruses, many companies have a policy of NEVER opening attachments. So don’t send them!
If posting or faxing, always use double line spacing so the editor has room to cut and paste the bits he wants to use.
Your Press Release does not require a covering letter. If you’ve followed the formula they’ll know what it is when it arrives.
My advice is NOT to follow up with a phone call. Journalists are busy people, they receive hundreds of Press Releases every day and they just can’t cope with hundreds of phone calls chasing up those releases! They are likely to regard your phone call as unwarranted nagging which will mean your release goes straight in the bin.
If you have an item that is newsworthy then write and send a Press Release about that story. Follow the structure I’ve outlined and you’ll be ahead of those who don’t. If it’s not published there could be 101 different reasons – don’t worry about it, just try again next time you have a newsworthy story.
And if you need any help writing your Press Release then do get in touch. You can contact me here: Contact Me