Do editors of newspapers, magazines and online news sites really use press releases? Too right they do. In fact, the press release is one of the most effective forms of publicity. But many businesses, both online and off, underestimate the power the press has to promote their business and get their product or service noticed by potential customers.
There are no figures that show how many news stories are generated by press releases but my guess is that it runs into the hundreds and thousands, if not more. Many will be published word for word. Others will be paraphrased. But, either way the stories generate free, credible publicity for you, and your business.
So how do you convince reporters and editors to sit up and take notice of your company’s news? Write a press release that’s newsworthy, factual, topical, and then send it to the right people. It’s not as simple as it sounds, though, because the press is bombarded with information everyday and their priorities are not necessarily yours.
Have no fear. Here are 15 tips to help you write a press release that will impress reporters, and increase your chances of publication.
1. Don’t waste the reporters’ time submitting something that isn’t news. Find an interesting angle or a new twist and you’re almost guaranteed success. If you make your story sound dull it will probably end up in the trash. The best source for ideas is the magazines and newspapers themselves. Not the front page headlines but the one or two paragraph items on page three or page 10. Play close attention to these because they often suggest something bigger is afoot. If that something can tie into your product or service you’re on to a sure-fire winner.
2. Your headline should summarize your story in ten words or less. It tells the editor, at a glance, if your story is newsworthy or not. Avoid adjectives like “amazing” and “exciting’. It’s a turn off for journalists. A simple title such as,“MarketingBiz.com Announces Launch of Newsletter Service” is better than, “MarketingBiz.com to Launch Exciting and Interesting New Service.” Remember, this is news, not advertising.
3. Make sure your lead sentence contains all the main points of your story. It should tell the reader who has done what, where, why and when. Try not to let this sentence ramble on. Make sure it’s straight to the point and contains only essential information.
4. Include all the benefits of your product or service. If your product is 20% cheaper, say so. If your service can help make your client, healthier or wealthier, say so. Concentrate on the advantages to the consumer because no one cares about the advantages the product has to you.
5. Add detail to your story. In the body of your release add extra information in order of importance. But beware, editors delete paragraphs from the end so make sure you include vital information early.
6. If possible include one or two quotes from reliable or expert sources. Quotes give a point of view, reflect the personality of the speaker and add a human element.
7. Keep the length to a single page if possible. Definitely no more than two. Anything over that becomes a chore for the editor. If you must go to two pages put “more” at the bottom of page one so the editor knows there is more to your story. At the end of your release put either the word “Ends” or ### or –30-. This let’s the editor know your release is over.
8. If you’re sending photos with your release, always include a caption listing the names of people in the photo. Include sources, contacts and the release date.
9. Avoid embargoes unless they are absolutely necessary. They are often used to make a story look more important than it actually is. Editors will rarely be fooled and you may find it’s counter-productive.
10. Sending your release to the right people and to enough publications will increase your chances of getting your story printed. There are literally thousands of newspapers, magazines and online publications for trade and the consumer. Find the right ones by:
- Checking listings in a media directory. You can find them at your local library.
- Using an online service such as PR Web, that offers free distribution, or a paid service like PR Newswire.
- Sending the release to trade publications related to your business
- Contacting local and national TV and Radio
11. The more press releases you issue, the more will get printed. Ensure you issue at least one story a month. But don’t send out a release for the sake of it.
12. If you’re sending your release via email, avoid sending file attachments. Editors are wary of viruses and most will immediately delete your release.
13. Avoid fancy letterheads and gimmicks. What you say is more important.
14. Include contact name(s), telephone number(s) including cell phone numbers and an email address. This may sound obvious, but a surprising number of releases are submitted with this essential information missing.
15. Make your grammar and spelling perfect. A poorly written, grammatically incorrect press release tells the editor one thing…that your company does not have professional standards. Proofread your release several times before you submit it. Don’t just rely on a spell-checker.
Julia Hyde is an advertising copywriter specializing in search engine marketing and copywriting, public relations and other marketing materials businesses need to increase sales. To find out how Julia can help boost your company's profits visit www.juliahyde.com.