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A small business blog featuring tips to help entrepreneurs succeed in the small business world. Topics include family business, human resources, marketing, money, networking, operations, ownership, startup, taxes and technology.
How to Issue a Press Release
A press release is a relatively inexpensive way (typically free, or close to it, depending on what you do with it) to get the word out about your business. But it is a process that many small business owners are not familiar with.
First, find a newsworthy angle for your press release that, in a round-about way, is related to the product/services you provide. If you’re having a hard time coming up with a topic, check your company’s online forum posts (or set one up if you don’t have one), which will typically lend some good ideas.
Your topic needs to be something that the public would be interested in reading about irrespective of your business’ involvement. Editors and reports are not at all interested in helping your business obtain new clients and increase sales, so don’t try and sell anything. They are simply interested in providing news to the public. If your press release doesn’t provide a newsworthy angle, they won’t release it – end of story.
How do you write a press release? First, it needs to be in the third person (avoid “I” or “we”), in an journalistic and unbiased style. Before starting, familiarize yourself with quality journalistic writing from papers such as the New York Times or Washington Post, as well as the style of your local papers. When you’re ready to get started, there are five key elements to keep in mind (for a format example, please refer to Publicity Insider):
Your headline needs to catchy and attention grabbing. This is not the place to mention or make reference to your company, but to target the key element of the press release.
This provides a further explanation of what the press release covers.
The lead is the first paragraph of your press release and covers the who, what, where, when and how of your story all in one. If the editor/reporter were to read this paragraph alone, they could do a little research and write the rest of the story for you, if they chose to do so.
The body of your press release needs to back up the claims you make with evidence. One of the strongest forms of evidence for any news story are quotes. You will want to quote common folk, as well as experts, to balance out both sides of your claim.
There also needs to be, at some point in the body of your story, a short paragraph about your company (when established, what it does, why involved in this story, etc). Keep it short – no more than two or three sentences. More than that seems like a sales pitch.
Indicate the end of your press release with “###,” centered.
Following the end-indicator, add a short little note for the editor/report that simply says “For more information or to schedule an interview with a company representative, please contact our office at . . .”
There will be many times when you send out press releases to all local newspapers and radio stations and no one picks up your story. Don’t get discouraged. There are other ways to get the word out. So, in addition to sending a press release to the news media, you should also do the following:
• ALWAYS publish your press release on your website.
• Include links to your online press release in e-mail correspondence.
• Include a copy of the press release in sales correspondence (mail a copy to current clients).
• If your press release is published, write a letter to the editor on the topic (extra publicity).
• Send out a follow-up press release, with a different angle, and the original press release attached
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