Mrs. Andrea Harrison
In our fast-paced digital age, anyone doing some kind of business is well aware that the use of internet-based platforms such as social media, websites, and email marketing are vital components to driving search engine traffic in order to build brand awareness. However, it’s also important not to lose sight of the fact that traditional marketing tools, namely print advertising, is not going away any time soon. As long as there continues to be a demand for newspapers, magazines, journals, etc., there will continue to be a need for the press release to generate articles of consumer interest to a vast population.
Whether it's an open house, fundraiser, merger, product launch, rebranding or any other vital news that a company desires to share with the community, a press release remains a valuable means by which to attain exposure through the help of traditional media.
Help is the key word, in the sense that a publisher can get a message into print, but only as long as he/she deems it has some kind of worth or interest to the general public. Seems easy enough, right? Make it compelling enough to catch the reader's interest. Er...yes and no.
As a business person writing a press release, you must make the message compelling to the journalist in order for the journalist to make it compelling to the reader. But how, you ask? Tell an informative story.
Think of the famous line spoken by Joe Friday of the ever-popular police series, Dragnet, "Just the facts, ma'am."
Just like a news story, a press release needs to contain the important facts along with some embellishing details that can be translated into an article of interest. If it reads like a sales pitch, it will end up lining the bottom of an editor's wastebasket.
In order to capture the media's attention with your press release the first step is to understand that it must have a particular format. There is no guarantee that your release will be picked up because it's competing with other stories, however, you will increase its chances of consideration by adhering to the following guidelines:
Similar to the title of a news article, the attraction starts with a captivating headline. Keep it succinct but with enough information that will assure an editor you are thinking like a writer rather than a marketer. This is the very beginning of building an inverted pyramid of knowledge, starting with the most basic who, what, where, when, why and how.
Date of Release
Depending on time constraints, this is up to whomever is managing the marketing campaign. Choose a day or two ahead to send it to the media source so they have time to craft a good article. For big events and launches, schedule multiple releases.
Contact Information and City of Release
Make sure to use company letterhead with contact information indicated to the left. Identify the city in which the news will take place, at the start of the body of the announcement.
Compelling Lead Sentence
Your introductory sentence should be as captivating as the headline and contain a summary of all the essential information.
The Body of the Press Release
Include one or two paragraphs with supporting details. Be careful not to go overboard with specifics since the purpose is to provide the media with just enough data to fashion an interesting and succinct news announcement.
Background or Bio of Company or Noteworthy Individual
The only other aspect of the press release that is as important as the news event is the subject of the event. Devote the last paragraph of the release to spotlighting the company, organization, or individual responsible for making the news. Whether it’s indicating the accomplishments of a significant individual or the history and contributions of a corporation, it lends a great deal of credibility and importance that will serve to further pique the media's interest in what you have to offer their readers. Create a template for future releases in which the background information remains constant until it needs to be updated.
Make it Personal
In addition to a bio or background, get permission to add a relevant quote by an influential person involved with the news event. This provides a human quality and connection that enhances the story. Remember that it’s important you tell a story, not advertise, even though your goal is to influence consumerism through community exposure.
Signal the End
It's simple. Add three hashtags (###) to indicate the end of your release. But don't stop there. Be sure to reread and correct any grammatical errors, misspellings or other inaccuracies. The presentation of your press release is an immediate reflection of your image as a professional. Plan ahead to make certain you are leaving a lasting and positive impression.
Length and Language
Keep it to one or two pages. Use simple language that can be easily understood by a general audience.
Relevancy and Locality
Choose media sources that are in the surrounding community and share your interests. Keep it local and find publications that are vested in similar topics. It's also important to get acquainted with some of the local journalists to get feedback on whether your release will or has been picked up for publication. This will also increase the chances of your news getting published because your business becomes familiar and trusted among the news community.
By following these guidelines your press release stands a very good chance of getting picked up by your local media, especially by those publications that make it their business to post news from other businesses that they find relevant to their subscribers.
Of course, it’s up to you to determine whether a press release will be useful to your marketing plan. Many choose to go strictly digital because that yields them the most exposure. Nevertheless, it can't hurt to include a press release when you consider that, in the present day, there are still plenty of people who get their news from print media. If you choose not to include a press release you may be missing out on reaching a significant sector of the population.
Like other forms of traditional marketing still used today, such as newsletters, brochures, flyers and business cards, the press release remains a tried and true component for driving new business. Make it part of your marketing plan.