Tips for Writing Press Releases

Every good business owner knows that in order to get the word out on one’s business it is necessary to garner some publicity and to advertise. While advertising costs money, however, publicity is free. And one of the best ways to get a little publicity is to send a press release to local media outlets. Most media organizations that provide news (local television, radio, and newspaper) do not have the staff to go out and dig up every single thing that is going on in town. So if you have something that you want people to know about, you need to alert the media yourself. And this is just what a press release is for.

One of three things will happen when you submit a press release: it will be discarded, the organization will send someone to follow up, or the release will be run in the paper (either edited or as is). The key to avoiding the first fate is to write an effective press release that is mindful of news values and what an editor (even radio and television news organizations employ editors) would deem important. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you write your press releases.

1.Show news value. The fact that you are having a grand opening will probably earn you a place in the business notes, if your community has them, but it is usually not considered “real” news. You have to show why your store is new, timely, or applicable to the generality of lives. Will you be selling an innovative product? Are you the first in your community to offer a particular service? These are things that spark interest and warrant an actually news brief, or even a reported story.

2.Write in a journalistic style. The typical journalist writes in what is known as an “inverted pyramid.” The most important information goes first. So if you are selling an innovative product, start out with that detail to grab the attention of the editor. You get the basic information out first, and the details go at the end. Information about your company is one of those details that belong toward the end.

3.Avoid being too “salesy.” While you are writing a press release, and the editor expects that you are not going to give the other side of the story, try not to be too overt in plugging your company. If you focus more on the objective and practical reasons that your product or company is worth covering, and do so with brevity (keep a press release to a page in length), you are more likely to be taken seriously.

4.Provide people that the media can talk to. In addition to having contact information displayed in the header of your press release, it never hurts to include a quote from a manager, owner, or even an employee or customer. Just make sure that you quote someone who is willing to comment, so that if the news organization want further details, they have a name, other than the P.R. contact, to start with. Plus, having a quote means that your story can be used “as is” to plug a small hole in that the editor might need to fill.

If you take the time to put together a professional press release that is usable and shows news value, the media is more likely to cover it. The press has a love-hate relationship with P.R, at once needing them to find stories and at the same time loathing trying to get past the spin. If you present information in a clear, interesting, and concise manner with attention to news value, then you are far more likely to get the coverage you want from a media organization.

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