For many businesses, a great cost-effective way of promoting news about your business is to produce a press release for distribution to the media. Today the media not only includes magazines and journals that customers read but also broadcasters and specialised websites.
Here are a few tips about how to produce an effective press release that journalists and bloggers in your target market should take notice of.
Admin and layout issues
For busy journalists who receive hundreds of emails every day, it is useful to indicate clearly that what you are sending is a press release. This should not only be in the subject line of the email but also marked clearly in at least three other places in the email.
In addition, you will need to show the source of the email and press release; this includes all relevant contact details such as your name, title, telephone and mobile numbers, email address and website. Also, show whom they should contact for further information and if someone is available for an interview. Also, indicate that the press release is for immediate release, forget about putting an embargo date on it since this will irritate the journalist who will have a different set of deadlines to you.
It should also include at the end of your press release usually titled notes for the editor section. Here is where you will put information about your business. This will include a line or two about what your business is about and where it is located when it was founded. In addition, brief details of the product or service. In addition, links to your website for more detailed and extensive information about your company and the products and services it provides.
Press release structure
- Your contact details and showing it is a press release
- The short, clear headline tells media what the story is about
- Paragraph 1: sums up the entire story in one or two sentences
- Paragraph 2: puts the story in context – why it’s important
- Paragraph 3: presents details – who has involved how it came about, etc.
- Paragraph 4: includes a relevant quote to add information, credibility and/or opinion
- Paragraph 5: shows where people can find more details, buy a product, get involved, etc.
- Notes to the editor: here is where you will include brief information about your business, products and services. Also, a link to your business website for more details.
- Your contact details and who to contact for interviews and further information
Here are a few examples of press releases
Is your news newsworthy and of interest to your target market
Typically, it is useful to decide on a theme that will supply useful or interesting information to the reader. It could even be how to solve a problem.
Therefore, before you create a press release, it is important that we consider the following questions. These are:
- Is there anything new in my story?
- Is there anything unusual or unexpected?
- Would it be of interest to anyone outside my business?
- Has it any interesting local or national event?
- Will anyone care?
If no one will care about your news, then it would be better to wait until you come up with a better story.
It could be useful to see if you can link it with some important anniversary or even the launch of some film. For instance, in Oxford, there are always films being made in the area. Therefore, there can be countless opportunities linking your business to news of the film or TV production, such as you supplied the accounting, electrical or construction services for the film.
How to write good headlines
A great subject line is also necessary. Make sure that a press release headline is only five words long and immediately explains what the topic is about. Here are a few examples:
- All Roads Lead To McDonald’s
- How To Win Friends And Influence People
- Dries Up Your Hay fever Problems
- 27 Reasons You Should Try This Diet
- Stop Being An Advertising Victim
But you must remember that journalists do not have much time to spare, so keep your headline clear, short, understandable and to the point. Therefore, as a rule of thumb, a headline should be no more than five words.
Why the first line of your press release is important
The first line of your press release has to grab the attention of the journalist reading it, since if it fails to do so they will not go any further. So as a result, the first line must summarise the whole story in just 20 words and read like the opening of a new story.
Journalists are looking for the following things in a press release. These are:
So make sure that your press release answers all these key questions. You will often find that a good story in your newspaper will include answers to all these questions listed.
Another trick is to imagine your story will be broadcast on television or radio. The presenter will need to introduce each item in about six seconds. For example:
- And coming out next is why a local engineering company is investing in 3D printing
- and coming up next is why a local bus company electric buses
- And coming up next is why a local company is celebrating its hundredth year of success
- And why a local café is supporting local charities this month
Being able to answer such questions should give you the first line of your story
The importance of being concise
Today the ideal length of a press release should be only 400 to 500 words. It should comprise just three or four short paragraphs plus at least three useful quotes from someone in the company to add interest to the story. Increasingly, there is a trend by press release writers to include headings, subheadings, and bullet points in their writing. Doing so makes it often much easier to understand for the journalist. This is especially the case when explaining complex information and you are using figures and statistics.
When you are writing quotes make sure that they provide useful, insightful information. They should appear to have been sent by a real person.
Here are a few examples of such quotes:
- “We believe in being a fully accountable and sustainable business,” said John Smith.
- Robert James said, “Doing business with XYZ is a great pleasure.”
- “We have an exciting future ahead of us,” said Andrew Smith.
A few more bits of advice
Increasingly journalists do not have the time to write the complete story from scratch. Therefore, it is important to write your press release well, since the journalist will often tweak your press release before placing it any feature.
How to find journalists contact details
It is possible to get lists of editors and journalists from such databases as response source and gorkana, but this costs money. So instead, you can use such search engines as Bing, Firefox, Google, or Opera to find a list of publications involved in your specialised sector. For instance, use search phrase “energy magazines in the UK” or “energy editors” or “energy journalists.” In addition, you can use LinkedIn to find contact details of such specialist publication and journalists. Another way is to use the web to look up the contact details of relevant journalists and editors. Since many publications list the specific telephone and email addresses to contact. In addition, many such people are on Twitter, so you can approach them that way as well.
A similar approach can be used in tracking down broadcasters and their researchers on both radio and television. In addition, social networks like Twitter and LinkedIn are useful. However, if you are still finding problems it is useful to contact someone by phone at the news desk and asked them to be put through to the relevant journalist. Remember, to be clear and to the point what you want to talk about since journalists are very busy.
In addition, you often see generic email addresses such as news@ features@ since such emails are not often checked regularly. As a rule of thumb, usually, the topic editor will decide, e.g. the environment editor, the shipping editor, the technology editor et cetera.
If you have followed all the advice and targeted your press release, it is likely that for every 20 press releases you send out be happy that you might get five responses. In addition, once you have sent out the press release, it is useful to ring the journalists in question as soon as possible to check that they have received and read the press release and to ask if they need further information. It is important to remember that writing a good and successful press release is as much about doing your research into potential publications, having a good story that will interest the readers and luck.