It's been a long while since I found it necessary to write a press release; but through another project I've been working on over the last month, I revisited this often ignored web marketing strategy.
While I'll never make headhunted by CNN or the New York Times for a journalist or news editor position; I was very happy with the attention the press release received, so I thought I'd pass on some tips about format and distribution to our visitors and subscribers.
What is a press release?
In terms of marketing, it's basically just a story that may interest the general public or a market segment relating to your business or organization. The format is a cross between an article and an ad - very similar to the 'adarticle' strategies that I've written about before. A press release tends to be more objective than promotional copy and is often in interview format. The usual marketing hype is definitely a no-go zone.
A press release is submitted to media distribution outlets in the hope that they will run with the story or request an interview. Press releases are the lazy way that news services gather stories :).
What are the benefits?
Journalists love search engines; so even as your release becomes dated, you may be still contacted by them in relation to other stories they are working on.
Extra content for your site:
Press release distribution?
There are many services that act as distribution points for press releases, but most of them will charge a fee to distribute your news item to journalists and news editors. A few of the better known services are PRWeb, PRNewsWire and MarketWire.
PR Web, which provides excellent coverage at a very low price. Features include:
PRWeb also offers valuable tips on their site to help you with press release development and submission. The company is one of the oldest online press release distribution agencies around, with 100,000 contacts, industry analysts and freelance journalists in their databases. It's a great service well worth checking out.
The other way to find places that will accept your news item is to search via your favorite search engine like so:
"submit press release", "industry segment"
.. substituting "industry segment" with your target market. You'll be surprised by the number of places that will accept newsworthy items - after all, it's free content for them!
What's considered newsworthy?
Well, it's definitely not just telling everyone how great you and your products are.
Items that would be considered newsworthy include:
How to write a press release
The format and pitch of a news release is vastly different to traditional promotional copy. Terms such as "visit us today", "buy me now" or "discount prices" will see your press release headed straight for the recycle bin, as will WORDS IN CAPITALS and the unnecessary use of exclamation marks.
The best way to learn the format you should aim for release is to watch your local news or read a paper where a company is being mentioned in a positive way - steer clear of Enron stories :).
After reading/watching/listening to this kind of coverage for a while, you'll notice similarities.
Especially effective items you should include in a press release:
Press release format
The format of a press release is quite straightforward:
City, State (or country), Month, Day, Year -
..then launch into the story itself. Ensure that the date you use is current when submitting. Media outlets won't want what would appear to be old news. Keep your sentences short and use paragraphs every 5-6 lines if possible. The body should not exceed 500 words.
Remember to skip a line between sections and save in a generic format, such as a plain text file.
Press release format sample and template
Putting all of the above together, the following is a sample press release you could use as a basic template for writing your own.
-----Press release sample template begins-----
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Here is the summary which is just a couple of sentences
highlighting what the press release is about. The summary may be shown as a
snippet which is linked to the full article, so it needs to especially
enticing in order to get the journalist or general reader to click through
to read more.
-----Press release sample template ends-----
A well crafted press release in the correct format may take you a full day to create; but given the immediate and ongoing benefits to be had, it's definitely a worthwhile investment of your marketing time.
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