You should never underestimate the power of a press release and it would be wrong to assume that this marketing tool is outdated or ineffective compared to social media initiatives.
Getting good media coverage can often prove critical to the successful launch of a new product or business venture and a beautifully-crafted press release still commands the attention of many people, making it a valuable communication tool.
Here is an overview of how to put together a press release that will get everyone talking about what your business is doing.
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Understanding what a press release is designed to do
A good starting point would be to gain a better understanding of what a press release actually is as this will help you use this marketing tool in the most efficient and effective way possible.
First and foremost, a press release is not an advert and if you try to write your message in this way it will not have the impact you want and it will probably not get the level of exposure you are hoping for.
The people who are tasked with deciding which press releases to publish are very adept at spotting an advert dressed up as a press release and won’t be keen on letting you have some free advertising if you don’t play by the rules.
A good press release needs to be factual and to the point without any advertising fluff or self-promotional bias.
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Use press releases sparingly
If you are constantly sending out press releases it won’t have the impact you want as it has to be something that is truly newsworthy.
Ultimately, you are promoting your product or service, albeit in a subtle way, but there is no point trying to make a news story out of basic features or benefits attached to what you are selling.
Only use a press release when you have a story to tell or news to impart that you are sure people will want to hear about.
Create a list of suitable media outlets
It pays to take your time building a list of media contacts who you think will be interested in your news and who have an audience that you are trying to penetrate.
There is a subtle but vital difference to appreciate relating to how you create a piece of really effective copy.
Although it is suggested that you write your copy with a target audience in mind that doesn’t mean you should write a message that is directly aimed at them. The trick is to write the press release in a way that appeals to the editor and their reader demographic.
Follow a proven format
There is a tried and tested format that you might want to follow when you are crafting your own press release.
The format is often referred to as the six W questions and it is designed to prompt you to provide the sort of information that should be included in your press release.
The key questions are who, what, where, when, why, and how. (Strangely, you will notice that the last question begins with an H!)
When you are putting together your press release go through these key questions and the answers will form the spine of your marketing message.
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Present your information in order of importance
The next step is to assemble all of these relevant details in a way that presents your press release in the best possible way.
Start by introducing the story and provide a brief and concise summary of what your story is about in no more than a couple of sentences. You need to be mindful that editors will have to read their way through a number of press releases every day and that means they will scan the first few paragraphs to see if it grabs their attention or not.
If you don’t manage to gain their interest in those opening sentences it is unlikely they will continue to read on so take your time in creating a strong introduction.
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Don’t try to do the headline writers job
An important tip to take on board is that you should resist the temptation to write a headline that will appeal to the paper’s audience. Instead, focus on making your pitch to the media as it is their attention you are trying to grab.
If you manage to negotiate the first hurdle and get the attention of the media, you can be sure that they will then create a headline that will appeal to their readership.
Your aim should be to be clear and factual with your press release headline and avoid any ambiguity at all costs.
It can’t be stressed enough that if you don’t want your press release to be discarded by the publications you have contacted you will have to work hard at creating a story that says something interesting and offers something worthwhile that their audience will engage with.
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Try to come up with a worthwhile quote
If you come up with what could be classed as a lazy quote you can’t really expect your press release to have the impact it could be capable of if you can come up with something worthwhile.
Churning out the usual corporate messages and standard words of praise from the CEO isn’t going to cut it and these bland and stereotypical quotes won’t fire the imagination and interest of editors and writers tasked with reading your press release.
A good example of what a good quote should do would be when you express an opinion that challenges conventional thinking and could even be viewed as controversial.
The underlying point to try and remember when it comes to creating a memorable quote is that you should aim to come up with something that doesn’t sound like it has rolled off the PR production line.
The bottom line is that a press release has the power to provide some useful exposure for your business and it is well worth trying to get your message right so that you can reach as wide an audience as possible.