Saturday, November 01, 2008
One of the most effective methods for promotion is media exposure- exposure that starts from a simple press release. Newspapers, magazines and television news shows rely on press releases to locate news and human interest stories. Anyone can send a press release, but in order to get the attention of reporters, it must be professional, news worthy and appealing to a broad audience.
A press release should be brief- one or two pages- yet include enough details that a reporter could write a short article based solely on the information provided. The release should not be an announcement that a business or product simply exists, but should have an enticing “hook”. Good hooks include special events and sales, product announcements, contests, survey results or awards given or received. The trick is to make the hook interesting enough to capture the interest of the reader.
Be careful with your wording to avoid sounding like a sales brochure- this is sure to discourage the media from pursuing the story. Follow these rules to write a press release that gets the attention you want:
¨ Read several sample press releases before writing yours so you understand the proper format. www.BusinessWire.com and www.PRNewswire.com are good sources for locating professional releases.
¨ Start with a proper heading that includes your contact information. When listing phone numbers, indicate a day and evening number (reporters may call at odd hours) or simply list your cell phone number.
¨ Give the release an enticing title that captures the reader’s interest and print it in BOLD type.
¨ Double space the body of your release for easy reading.
¨ The first paragraph should include the basics of who, what, where, when and why. You want to lay the foundation and include your hook immediately. Remember that you want to engage your audience and prompt a response from the media.
¨ Determine the purpose of your press release. Is it to announce a grand opening, special event, introduce a new product or share valuable information with the public? Include the key points that make your story interesting.
¨ Use quotes from business partners, clients or other professionals to give the story more color and credibility. As awkward as it may be, you may want to quote yourself- especially if you are the subject of the release.
¨ Close with a brief summary of the business or the person you are promoting.
¨ Do not allow grammar or spelling mistakes to sneak into a press release. Make sure you edit your writing thoroughly and have a friend- or better yet two friends- review it for errors and content.
If you want to send your press release out locally, start compiling a list of media contacts. Check the websites of your local newspapers, news programs and magazines for contact names and address information. Media outlets accept press releases by mail, fax or email and typically indicate their preferences on the website or publication masthead. If you can’t locate press release instructions, it is best to mail it directly to the appropriate editor for your topic.
There are numerous services that you can pay to distribute your release to hundreds or thousands of markets. A few to investigate are www.ereleases.com, www.prweb.com, and www.xpresspress.com.
Before you send your release, be sure you are prepared to answer interview questions. You may receive calls from reporters immediately and will want to have thoughtful responses ready. Consider writing a list of points you want to make and keep it handy.
Most people find that a press release can be worth its weight in gold since a news story usually generates more buzz than any form of paid advertising. Don’t be discouraged if your first attempt doesn’t receive the attention you want, simply try again until you find the formula and pitch that works.
About the Author, my friend:
Stephanie Chandler is a small business expert and the author of FROM ENTREPRENEUR TO INFOPRENEUR: MAKE MONEY WITH BOOKS, E-BOOKS AND INFORMATION PRODUCTS. She is the founder of www.BusinessInfoGuide.com, a directory of resources for entrepreneurs and www.ProPublishingServices.com, a custom writing business specializing in electronic newsletters, information marketing, and sales copy for websites and brochures.
See http://www.PamPerryPRCoach.com too!