Press Release Primer

What you need is a media event.   Along with positive word of mouth generated by satisfied customers,  there’s nothing that will enhance your business cred like a nice mention in print,  online,  social,  radio or television media.  Even if your phone doesn’t ring immediately,  you are guaranteed to take that good publicity straight to the bank.

You must get the ball rolling.   Keep your eyes and ears open for a newsworthy event to which you can attach yourself.   School boy or girl sports events,   health fairs,   neighborhood clean-up and flower planting initiatives or art fairs  are potential publicity opportunities.  

Or brainstorm a way that you can turn a spotlight onto something interesting that you will do.  Maybe you can nominate yourself for a professional or volunteer service award and figure out a way to win?  You must get creative and get involved.

You will send a press release.   A press release is a standard way of communicating with journalists.  Providing content is the most important function of the press release,  in addition to grabbing attention.  If written well,  your press release will pique the interest of the target journalists at your chosen media outlets.  Your press release will convey the essentials of your story.  It will make things easy for the journalist and increase the chance that you will receive coverage. 

You must identify the appropriate media outlets.   Get familiar with local business oriented radio and television programs,  bloggers and community and business newspapers and magazines.  Watch the programs,  listen to broadcasts,  follow the blogs and read the magazines and newspapers.  Learn which journalists cover stories like yours.  Take notes on stories they’ve written or reported on.  Obtain their email and phone contacts from the media outlet website,  or call and ask the receptionist.  Make special note of issue deadlines.

Send press releases 4-5 weeks in advance of your event.   Give target journalists adequate time to evaluate and plan to cover your story. 

Send the press release in the body of the email.   If there will be a good photo opportunity at the event,  inform  the journalist.  If you have an event press kit photo, attach to the email.  In your introduction,  mention that you’ve listened to or read certain of his/her stories and that you wonder if there could be some interest in yours.

You must follow up with a phone call.   Ask the receptionist for the best call times,  or ask the journalist in your voicemail.  Confirm that the press release was received.  Ask if your story merits coverage.  Ask if additional information would be helpful.

  • Your email subject line should read FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE,  so the journalist will know that a press release has arrived.
  • In the upper left corner,  the press release sender gives contact info: name,  title,  company name and address,  email,  telephone and fax.  If you are alerting journalists to a particular event,  provide the organization name,  address,  website and other contact info in the upper right corner.
  • In BOLD CAPS,  state your press release headline.  Make it straight to the point,  a title for your story.  Above that give the press release date,  also in bold.
  • Below the title,  you may also provide a 3-4 sentence summary overview of the press release subject.
  • Next,  provide the body of the press release.  Write in the third person and include the relevant who,  what,  when,  where and why of your story or event.  Give an unbiased and factual account that communicates why the journalist and his/her audience will find your story newsworthy.
  • If your press release is longer than one page,  you may choose to include bullet points to detail key story elements.
  • Conclude with 2-3 sentences about your company,  your product/service and website link.  Also include links to any related or relevant articles in which you have been mentioned or profiled,  as well as applicable video links.

Persuading the media to publicize you,  your work or your community involvement is always much more compelling to current and prospective clients than any advertising you could ever buy.  Third party endorsement is always perceived as more credible.

If packaged correctly,  what you do in your professional and/or personal life could be considered newsworthy by any number of local (or national) media outlets.  Put on your thinking cap and identify how you can contribute a story that will pay dividends for your professional reputation. 

Thanks for reading,

Kim

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