Are you interested in writing a press release to promote your small business? Press releases are essentially documents that businesses, individuals, and nonprofits use to announce news and gain media attention. As both traditional and non-traditional media always need something to write about, press releases can help journalists find topics to write about, and in turn help your business gain crucial exposure.
That said, many press releases are never used by the press as they either are not suited for a particular publication or do not contain any interesting news. If you are going to try to spread the word about your organization or event, it is crucial to understand how to craft a press release that will get you noticed – and get you the results you desire.
Components of an Effective Press Release
In order to increase the chances of your company being featured in the media, write about topics that directly and positively impact the community. For example, if your company is expanding, make sure to focus on how the expansion will create jobs. Or if your company is participating in a fundraiser for a local charity, highlight this in your press release and invite the community to support the cause.
Furthermore, it’s essential to incorporate the following:
1. An Eye-Catching Headline
In order to capture the attention of a journalist, it is important that you write an outstanding headline. After all, the headline’s role is to encourage a journalist or other media professional to continue reading your press release. Therefore, always use an active voice in the headline, rather than a passive one. For example, “Company’s Expansion Boosts Local Employment by 500%” is more effective than “Company Will Extend West End of Factory by 2,000 Feet.”
2. An Engaging Lead
Once you catch a journalist’s attention by providing a topic that both the publication’s audience and editor would find interesting, it is crucial to keep the journalist engaged. In order to do so, write a lead (the beginning of a press release) in such a way that it beckons the hearts or minds of your readers. Remember to answer the questions of “who,” “what,” “where,” and “why” as quickly as possible. Also, bear in mind that you do not have to offer a substantial amount of detail at this point – that comes later.
In order to give your press release more substance, include supporting quotes from individuals and groups discussed within the release. For instance, if your small business is hosting an event that raises money for a specific charity, include quotes from the charity’s decision makers – and, if possible, include quotes from the people who will be directly affected by the fundraiser. Brief interviews conducted via email or phone should suffice to collect all the quotes you need.
Make sure that the quotes you utilize are intelligent and support the aim of the press release. Moreover, if there are grammatical errors in the quotes, be certain that you correct these mistakes without altering the context.
4. Contact Information
Be sure to include accurate contact information on your press release so that journalists may contact you or your organization with questions. Also include contact information geared to customers so that they can purchase your product or service. Toward the end of the press release, provide a blurb about yourself or your company regarding your background, mission, and services.
5. Facts, Statistics, and Endorsements
In order to give your press release substance, include supporting statistics from a reputable source in your press release. For example, include quotes from the CEO of your company, an expert business analyst, or even a satisfied consumer.
6. Economical Use of Words
Journalists have limited time, so keep your press releases brief and to-the-point. Moreover, if you can use five words instead of eight to say something, do it, and limit the size of the press release to approximately one page. A journalist can always call you if he or she needs further details. However, if you wish, you can attach a fact sheet about your company for reference.
7. Accuracy and Proper Grammar
Before you submit your press release to the media, ensure that all the information is accurate and not outdated, and that the document is free of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. It is important that you appear to be professional and reliable – you only get one shot to make a great first impression.
8. Professional Photos
Not all publications have the ability to personally take photos of you or your organization. Therefore, it is an excellent idea to have professional-quality photos ready for your media contacts. These images should be in JPEG format and be sized at least 5000×500 pixels and 72 dots per inch (DPI) for online media – and higher for print, which often requires images to be sized at 300 DPI.
Options for Writing the Press Release
There are several options when it comes to choosing who will craft your press release. Be honest in your assessment of the abilities of yourself and your staff, as well as your business’s budget, when considering the following:
1. Write It Yourself
If you are confident in your PR and marketing writing abilities, write the press release yourself. After all, no one knows your business better than you do – and what better way is there to save?
2. Hire a Professional Writer
If you do not possess the skills or have the time to write a press release, an excellent alternative is to hire someone to write it for you. Be sure to work with a writer who has plenty of business and marketing writing experience. In order to determine his or her experience level, request information pertaining to professional background, and also ask for direct samples. Take it a step further and confirm the professional information of applicants by checking LinkedIn profiles or by performing Google searches.
To locate a writer, ask colleagues for a referral, post an ad on Craigslist or on social media websites, or utilize a search engine. The rates for a professional freelance writer can vary from $50 to $500 based on his or her experience level.
3. Work With a PR Agency
In addition to writing press releases, a PR agency can work with you to create a large-scale PR plan. That said, if you are working on a limited budget, many PR agencies will be out of your price range. In general, PR agencies work on a monthly retainer, completing under contract a set number of press releases and other PR tasks for you.
Smaller PR agencies may charge less than $1,000 per month for a set number of services, including press releases, whereas a larger boutique PR firm may charge as much as $10,000 per month. However, do keep in mind that there are PR agencies that work on a project-by-project basis.
How to Promote Your Press Release
Promotion is key to getting your press release in front of the right eyes and on enough desks to make an impact.
1. Compile a List of Media Contacts
If you are the do-it-yourself type or if you are targeting local media, you can readily create your own list of media contacts. Simply note the name, position, and email of each press release contact, and remember to update this list regularly, as editors often change job positions within companies.
To send a press release, simply email the release to the appropriate editor. Make sure that you include the press release and the accompanying photo in the body of the email, and not as an attachment. In order to increase the chances of your email being opened, include the headline of the press release in the email subject line.
2. Purchase a Directory
An excellent way to get access to many targeted contacts is by purchasing a directory list. With directories, you can choose either general or more specialized media contact information. Of course, the pricing for these directories can vary significantly. Some popular directories include Burelle’s Media Directory ($60 to $1,000) and Bacon’s Information, Inc. directories ($425 to $1,350).
3. Use a Press Release Distribution Service
Companies such as PR Newswire and PRWeb can distribute your press release for a certain set fee, often ranging from $100 to $500. These distribution services create a personalized media database and distribute press releases to the appropriate contacts.
Once you gain the attention of the media, it is important that your business be prepared for the attention and possible influx of business that can result from media attention. Make yourself available, return calls quickly, and be certain that you have enough personnel, bandwidth, and available product. If not, journalists and patrons alike can easily become frustrated and share negative information regarding their experiences.
Additionally, after a particular journalist runs a story about you and your business, it is important to stay in touch. Publicity is not a one-time thing, and to be successful, it is in your best interest to continue submitting interesting and relevant press releases and insider tips to your list of contacts.
What other tips can you suggest to craft and distribute a successful press release?