Thousands of press releases flood the media each day, but only those with the “write stuff” stand a good chance of gaining the ever-valuable free publicity. How do some companies (small business and corporations alike) succeed in getting media attention while others struggle continuously no matter how innovative their product or service?
A basic lesson in press release writing mechanics may make a difference. Here are some essential guidelines for developing an effective release:
& #711; Make sure the headline captures immediate attention and describes the essence of your news. This is the most important part of the press release. If the news editor isn’t grabbed immediately by the headline, chances are he/she won’t read the rest of the release.
& #711; It has to be newsworthy. Describe the benefits of your product or service. Does it save time? Cut costs? Is it unique? Will it make life easier/better/more exciting for your prospective customers? Give editors a good reason to publicize your story.
& #711; Make sure the first paragraph (lead) provides all the basic points of your news, including the who, what, where, when, why, and how. Editors want to know all the essential details up front. Background information can be added in subsequent paragraphs.
& #711; Avoid the sales pitch and stick to the facts. While it’s obvious the objective of your release is to promote your business, keep it factual, and avoid puffery and propaganda.
& #711; Keep your press release concise. News editors don’t have time to read through pages and pages of information. If a more extensive story is warranted, editors or reporters will schedule an interview with you and develop the story themselves.
& #711; Make sure to include the contact person’s name, telephone number, and E-mail address prominently at the top of the page.
& #711; Develop a targeted media distribution list, ensuring that your story will be relevant for their respective audiences. A well-researched, targeted distribution will save time and expense, and increase the chances of getting publicity.
& #711; Confirm the name and spelling of each editor’s name and send your release to the appropriate section editor. Find out if they prefer to receive their news releases via fax or E-mail and submit them accordingly. Determine deadline dates for special editions if your news applies.
& #711; Submit news releases on a regular basis. Even if your first few attempts prove unsuccessful, continue to send releases with fresh ideas and new angles at least once a month. This will help build your credibility as an industry expert and position your company as a potential quote source for future related stories.
Gumataotao is a marketing communications consultant in San Diego, specializing in copywriting and collateral development. She can be reached at (firstname.lastname@example.org).