How to write an effective press release                                    logo50wd&B.jpg

Press releases can be just as powerful for your growing business as advertising, and they cost a lot less. A good press release can promote any important development at your company, but if it's written poorly the media may ignore it no matter how newsworthy the topic.

Press releases are short documents used to call the media's attention to an event or newsworthy happening at your company. Read local newspapers closely and watch local television carefully to discern what is considered news. Look over the press releases of companies similar to yours to get a better idea of how your release should look.

Pick your targets carefully.   Many newspapers and trade publications routinely publish certain business happenings -especially promotions, new hires, or calendar listings of special events. While not exactly front-page news, these sections guarantee that you will get your business into the paper or magazine, and you should take full advantage of them.

Meet their needs.   If you want a newspaper or television station to do a bigger story on your business, it needs to appeal to them. Your needs do not concern them, and they will run stories that serve their interests. But you can help pique their interest by making things easy for them.

Be available. Make sure your company's press release says the owner or CEO is available for interviews - that's who reporters want to meet. Reporters also appreciate press releases that include the names of people who are not associated with your company but with whom they might speak for background information. Ask customers, vendors, business partners, or industry experts if they would be willing to be interviewed. If they consent, include their names, phone numbers, and email addresses in your press release.

Make your point quickly.   Reporters and editors get a lot of press releases, and they throw a lot of them away - sometimes without even looking closely at them. To keep them reading, don't bury the story -- put the focus at the top of the press release. If a press release doesn't catch a reporter's attention in the first paragraph, it's probably headed for the trash can.

Don't be pushy. For the same reason, don't lead with an aggressive sales pitch. The hard sell doesn't work with most journalists. Don't say your product or service is "great" or "one-of-a-kind" -- especially if it isn't. Instead, be specific. Do not just state that your product is unique; tell the reader exactly what is unique about your product.

Include the basics. Your press release should always contain certain basic information: the name of a contact person, a phone number, e-mail and Web addresses, and your company's location. You should write a short paragraph that describes your business and use it at the end of every press release. Keep your sentences short, simple, and jargon-free.

Less is more. If your press release is longer than two pages, it's way too long. The best press releases fit on one page.

Consider the timing.   Daily reporters -- print, broadcast, or online -- usually have daily deadlines for breaking news, but they may also be writing feature articles up to a month in advance. If you want feature coverage, send them releases at least a month prior to expected publication. Monthly magazines typically close their editorial content about two months in advance of the issue date. If you want a story to run in the May issue, you should submit the idea no later than February. Radio, television, and electronic journalists run short but timely stories based on breaking news. Given the dynamic nature of these media, be prepared to give an interview or a demonstration when they call.

Don't make mistakes. Always spell-check before you send out your press release. Also have someone else read it over for errors and omissions. Even professional writers make mistakes, and, if you aren't a professional writer, it's even more important to have a second set of eyes to check out anything you send. Remember you are sending your release to writers and editors -- and journalists are notoriously critical. A typo in a press release can label your company as "small-time" no matter how big your news may be.

Learn the essentials of 'Becoming your own PR practitioner' click here to find out more >>

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