One of the most effective ways of promoting your business is by using public relations. And one of the best tools that small businesses have is the press release. An article that is written from your press release in a newspaper, ezine or magazine, or is covered on radio or television will carry more credibility with the public than an ad that you can buy in the media. As an extra kicker, once it's been published you can pay to have it reprinted as an advertisement. It will have "paid advertisement" written with it, but it will be able to retain the reporter's byline and the date originally published and where it was published. Studies have shown that the public accepts these reprints as providing credible information.
If you're on a tight budget, you can write a press release yourself. There are some rules that you should follow in doing this that will make it look professional and increase your chances that the press will pick it up.
The first rule is to have something worth writing about. Good topics include:
- Opening a business
- Change of location
- New ownership
- Bringing in a new manager/staff
- Adding an area of expertise
- Expanding your product line
- Receiving a patent or trademark
- Redesign of product
- Signing a big deal
- Receiving funding for a project
- Receiving a significant investment
- Charitable giving
A tip on charitable giving: small businesses are typically approached for dozens of donations during the year. We suggest that you set a budget for your charitable giving. If it is higher than $200, you may wish to accumulate requests for funding during the year and make donations of at least $100 for each worthy cause. Then consider announcing your grants in your local newspaper as a press release. It's good for the agencies that receive your funding and it can be good for you because readers will know that you're invested in the community. It also allows you to time your giving.
Press releases are meant to be convenient for the writers and editors to whom you send them. Your first step is to develop a press release letterhead. This will be at the top left of your sheet of paper or email. We recommend faxing or mailing your press release, it seems to get more serious attention from non-ezine publishers than email does. Paper should be standard 8 1/2 x 11 or legal 8 1/2 x 14.
Press Release Letterhead
The name of your business
Press Release Address
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Today's Date
For More Information Contact: Name of media contact at your business.
Next comes your summary information: Who, what, where, when, why basics. Often this will be the only part of your press release that gets published, so make it count. Be clean, be crisp and don't pad it or the editors will cut it. Consider this the "hook" to get them to keep reading, so make it interesting.
Typically, the way that editors handle press releases is by cutting off whole paragraphs instead of rewriting the story. So you want to write it by putting your most important information into the first paragraph, second most important in the second paragraph and so on until you conclude. Do a broad overview of the situation at first, then become more detailed about half way through the article. Information should be factual. If you want to express an opinion, quote someone in your business. Include who they are and what position they hold.
When you're done with your press release, you need to tell editors that it is done. Type "###" on the next line after your article is complete. That will let them know that it's over. If your release runs more than one page, you'll need to put "MORE" at the bottom of each page before the end. Put the title and date at the top of the following page so that they'll be able to put it back together if the pages become separated.
Well, that's it. You're ready to do a professional looking job on your own. We'd love to hear from you about your first experiences in doing your own news releases.