Press Release 101

Press Release 101By Dawn Berryman

Do you send out press releases? How often? What is their purpose?

Press releases can be a great way to grow your business, increase your exposure, and dramatically increase your SEO effectiveness. And, it’s affordable! An effective press release can catapult your business in front of thousands. Or, it can boost you to the top page of Google.

Do you have to hire an expensive public relations professional to write and distribute it for you?

Maybe not.

With a little help and research you might be able to tackle the task yourself. However, if your budget permits the hiring of a strong PR firm, don’t dismiss their value.

First and foremost, a press release must be used to disseminate information about something that is actually newsworthy. For instance; a grand opening, a new line, an event, a name change are all newsworthy items as they relate to your business. Be sure to latch on to what is unique about your story and highlight it in order to set yourself apart. This might be easy at first, but it can get trickier as your business grows and ages. Consistent releases are most effective. So, continually try to stay on top of trends and advances and release information relating to your business and niche as often as you can.

The ultimate goal of your release is to garner media attention. Typically, journalists use a press release as a base for a larger story. However, in some smaller markets especially, press releases may be ran as written; all the more reason why your release should be written with care. Your release should be relatively short and direct. Media writing by nature isn’t fluffy. Just give the facts, don’t embellish or add unnecessary adjectives. Essentially, you need to write to the media and make their job easier. So, do a little research on structure and AP style before you write. Then, have a business associate or trusted person edit and critique it for you.

In news print, especially, space is limited. So, keep the critical information in your release toward the top so when cuts need to be made, editors can easily remove the ‘extra’ from the bottom. And, always, always pay close attention to grammar and punctuation.

Remember, your press release is written about a news item, not as a sales pitch. Keep your tone neutral and objective and write in third person. Avoid clichés and try to focus on what is new and unique about your news item. A well written press release is much more likely to be chosen by an editor for publication than a poorly written one full of errors and unrelated information.

I always recommend distributing your release locally to news outlets as well as online. There are several sites that will let you submit and post your (newsworthy) press release for free. In addition, there are great sites like PR Underground that post releases for a small fee. I’ve had clients have a lot of success with PR Underground and get their news on the front page of Google for a very nominal fee.

Dawn Berryman is the founder of MarketMommy.com and Market Mommy:: The Blog, online marketing resources for mom entrepreneurs. Market Mommy shows moms how and where to market their businesses. She holds a B.A. from Indiana University and has worked in the marketing/communications field for more than 11 years. She resides in rural Ohio with her husband and three children. For more information, please see: Market Mommy.

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