Your Business Deserves the Limelight – Now Go Get It!
Posted by Christina on July 13th, 2015
The excitement that hits when a project begins, that rush when a product is about to launch, the satisfaction of a thrilled client… this is why you do what you do. These moments make stressful days (or weeks), endless meetings, and the jitters that come after the third cup of coffee 100% worth it.
These are moments that your customers, clients, community, and shareholders of the company should hear about. All you have to do is get this information in the news so everyone else can share in your triumphs!
Press and media coverage is the easiest and cheapest way to market your business. Press releases can be the strongest tool in your business’s communication and marketing arsenal. Like so many other things in life (and business) – writing a press release can quickly become a case of “easier said than done.”
Why? Most press releases fail to generate interest and never make it past the inbox of your media contact. Crafting an impactful press release is more like painting an impressive landscape compared to taking a photo of your vacation to upload to Facebook. It takes time, materials, and effort – and if done correctly everyone will want a look at it (don’t worry – I’m sure everyone looks at your vacation photos).
Determine Why Anyone Should Care
Count on no one caring about your business.
Reality? Maybe – do you really want to take a chance?
Going into the press release with this mindset will help you develop how you will present the information.
For example, take this opening line of a press release about a new location opening:
“Check out our new store that is opening up! You can buy all kinds of stuff here!”
How likely are you to mark your calendar? They told you the news, and even what you can do about it, but there is no draw.
“For 25 years we’ve enjoyed servicing our community – now we are thrilled to announce the opening of a new location to better serve you. Stop by our new location to see what’s new, and get to know us!”
Whoa. Now you want to support this community business. If you weren’t familiar with them you now want to meet them. If you’re a loyal customer you want to know what is new.
Before you even sit down you should have a clear idea of how you will present the information to be relevant to the audience. Call it “the hook” or “the angle” – whatever you call it, your release needs to have this so people can relate to your story.
Make Your Point Abundantly Clear
Not having the point of the story or article immediately apparent to the reader is also referred to as “burying the lede” and it is a no-no for news stories. Your first sentence should make it clear what the rest of the release is about.
“Peppers are the most amazing thing since sliced bread – or maybe they are better. They also happen to be the main ingredient in salsa. We just love our salsa and can’t wait for you to have some. If you get hungry – make sure to stop by our new location. We serve salsa!”
In this case, the first sentence would lead most people to think the press release is about peppers. By the second sentence they are excited about a salsa recipe. By the third sentence everyone is confused and no longer cares.
So try this:
“A new location means two places for you to enjoy our salsa! For 25 years we’ve enjoyed servicing our community – so we are thrilled to announce the opening of our second restaurant to better serve you. Stop by our new location to see what’s new!”
Your first paragraph should make the reader care about that first sentence (psst – that’s the hook that you already thought of in the first point).
Actually Write the Release (Step-by-Step)
Now you get down to the nitty-gritty and provide all the information that needs to be included. Don’t assume that the journalist, or any reader, will know everything about your company or product – so make sure you include all the facts that they will need to know.
- Before the body of the press release – at the very top should be the following
- date you are writing/sending the press release out
- when it can be released: “Immediate Release” or “Embargo (MM/DD/YYYY)”
- Contact Information in case they have follow-up questions. This should include individual’s name, company name, phone number and email.
- The basics of the story- the Who, What, Where, When and What
- Wrap it all up – use the last paragraph to remind the readers why this is important and why they should care. Double points if you can give them actionable items they can do to participate in some way (visit a website, come to an event, donate to a cause, etc.)
- If it makes sense, have one more paragraph at the very end that describes the history of the organization, company, event, etc.
As you are writing, keep in mind that press releases should be short – no longer than two pages double spaced, and most are shorter than that. Don’t get into overly long descriptions or explanations of anything. If you are including a paragraph about the history – keep it brief.
Edit That Amazing Press Release
Because it will be even better.
- Is the correct date, release date, and contact information at the top before everything else?
- Are there any sentences or paragraphs that don’t actually add to the story?
- Is the headline eye catching and informative?
- Get a quote from someone else in the industry, or from someone in the community that will be impacted
- Make sure any facts or figures are correct and properly attributed
- Remove any jargon – it doesn’t make you sound smart, it alienates your readers
- Double check for spelling and grammatical errors. Then triple check. Then have someone else who hasn’t read it yet give it the once over.
- At the end of the press release type three pound signs “###” so that the individual who is reading the release knows that this is the end (a lot of these will be printed and shared so don’t forget this step!)
- Gather a photo or two that can accompany the press release – at the least you should include your company’s logo
Follow up & Share the News!
Once you send of the press release – don’t make the mistake of not following up.
For your press contacts, follow up with a phone call a day or so after sending it out to make sure they received the email and to answer any follow up questions that they may have. Following up could be the difference between someone forgetting your press release and getting an article published about your business- or even an interview!
As explained by Ken Pearson, Business Development Specialist of the Western Dairyland Business Center,
“When you send out a release, have a plan in place when the reporter does call or knocks on your door. Don’t get caught with your curlers in!
Prepare for it like you would a job interview. If the interview is at your house, clean up. If you’re meeting at your office, imagine it like a television studio. Wear your branded clothing, have a script and practice it, and have one clear and consistent message. You may only get one chance with a press release, so make it count.”
The press isn’t the only vehicle that you can use for your press release though – if your company is on any social networks be sure to share the release to all your followers. Press releases can also be easily modified into blog posts, or email to investors and customers of your company.
As you design press releases, don’t be afraid to ask for quotes and seek out more information to strengthen your release. Rejoice and celebrate the final product by sharing it on social media, emails, your own company newsletter, etc. A well-crafted press release is a strong tool for your business and there is no excuse to not use it.