For Immediate Release
In the era before Yahoo and Google, press releases were a means to achieve free public relations. Reporters are not psychics. Crash your car and they'll follow the ambulances. Otherwise, journalists have to discover newsworthy stories somehow. That "somehow" is a press release. They are the granddaddy of public relations writing vehicles.
Why A Press Release?Some people see the advantage to promotion-- it's free advertising and it gives your news the credibility that comes with the media that features it. If you have some big news, it merits being pushed out as a news release Some get carried away by the lure of free publicity, but media is savvy and stingy. They will only promote what they think is newsworthy. Did you sell one website? Did you add a new staffer? Or, did you land a $10-million deal? If it's not big, it's not newsworthy, it doesn't merit a press release.
Anatomy Of A Press ReleasePrepare and gather your information. Make sure you have what you need before you send the press release. if exposure is key, then you may even need to let the tail wag the dog: delay the launch to get the press release right, but try to work to get it all ready in time for all of your plans.
Headline – Make it factual but catchy to briefly summarize the news in less than ten words.
Dateline – Contains the release date and usually the city of the press release. If the date listed is after the date that the information was actually sent to the media, then the sender is requesting a news embargo. You have to assume that journalists will not honor that. As soon as the press release is issued it's out there.
Introduction – First paragraph in a press release, that generally gives basic answers to the questions of who, what, when, where and why.
Body – Give as much in-depth information as possible. Remember: journalists are squeezed for time. You may end up effectively writing the article for them.
Boilerplate – Build, evolve and re-use a short "about" section, providing independent background on the issuing company, organization, and/or individual.
Close – In North America, the symbol "-30-" appears after the boilerplate or body and before the media contact information, indicating to media that the release has ended. A more modern equivalent has been the "###" symbol. In other countries, other means of indicating the end of the release may be used, such as the text "ends".
Media contact information – name, phone number, email address, mailing address, or other contact information for the PR or other media relations contact person. Name someone who can handle the questions. People prone to dodging calls or questions will wreck the whole exercise. If your media contact is in question, phone them right now. If they answer, then they're okay.
There are three approaches to get the word out: through friends, through online services and to local media.
The First WayShare it on your website! Promote your press release on your site.
Second, let's your friends know about the press release on your site. Remember the role of social-- let it be your early way to get the work out. This is about building social proof. With Save Ian's, we were very active online before the press got wind of our work.
The New WayThere are traditional routes to pipe your promotions. Jason Finnerty (http://brandscaping.ca/) put me onto this list of good and free places wherein you can publish a press release:
http://www.prlog.org/ - Free press release distribution service for all businesses - Increase traffic and visibility - Online press release submission.
http://www.i-newswire.com/ - I-Newswire.com is a press release distribution center. The focus is on quality press releases. A common problem in today's distributions are distributors who publish anything to make money. This results in journalists and editors ignoring such places after time.
http://www.free-press-release.com/ - Online press release distribution service since 2001. Online press release distribution helps you connect and engage with target audiences, it also increases online exposure.
http://www.1888pressrelease.com/ - 1888 Press Release allows you to distribute releases to search engines, newswires and websites to help increase awareness of your product, company, or self for free. For a small fee, you can upgrade your submission for maximum exposure. Our services aim to help you reach journalists and to improve visibility in search engine listings, a concept known as search engine optimization, so you can get the most publicity possible.
http://www.prweb.com/ - PR Web is good, but the service costs something per press release. I feel that shakes out the suckers, so it's likely money well spent.
http://www.widepr.com/ - I used to use WidePR, but this just in!: their site is down as of this writing.
The Old WayTraditional media (local papers and TV stations) would take in press releases. They may act on them. They may ignore them. Traditional media is under siege from shrinking budgets, corporate interference and general decrepitude. Because of that, you need to give them a good amount of lead time to let them act on your press release. Budget three days, but if timing is key, contact them as soon as you can check. Play what if for critical dates, "We have an event on [date], when is the latest we can send through a press release?" "Now" may be the reply, but it's better to know.
Some have worked out the art of press releases as a part of their promotion engine. I heartily recommend the tactic... if you have something newsworthy.
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