There’s no such thing as free advertising. Or is there? A press release comes close. And you don’t have to have a Public Relations (PR) Department or a specialized degree to get the desired attention you are after. Find out the makings of a good press release and be on your way to some free publicity.
WHAT IS PR?
PR is simply using any news that sheds a positive light on your company to get attention in the press. Like most of us, journalists are always looking for a way to make their jobs easier. So when you have a newsworthy story about a large project or a charitable event in which your team participated, there’s a newspaper journalist, TV reporter or trade pub editor who would like to plug it into empty news space they’re trying to fill. You just have to find him/her.
WHAT SHOULD I WRITE ABOUT?
Think about your current and upcoming projects and which are newsworthy. Did you partner with another local business to pull off a slam dunk event or maybe you raised money for a local charity in a new, creative kind of way? Was there a line out your door so long that people were camping out just to get in? Did you hit record sales because of a new, startup software program that has been the best kept secret, until now? The types of events that go out in releases are not typically everyday events. When that special something happens, it is up to you to run with it!
IS THERE A PROPER FORMAT?
Once you have your topic, write a concise, easy-to-read press release. The layout/look-and-feel varies but the same, basic elements are there; a short, compelling article with: the date, your contact name and number, and the dateline (city and state) at the top. Releases are typically one page and they are not written with the same tone as your marketing pieces. Get to the point early; no fluff.
WHO DO I SEND IT TO?
Send the finished product to the news contact who covers the type of news you are reporting (business editor for a large project story, community editor for charitable activities, etc.). Follow up with a phone call to make sure they received your release and ask if they need more information, photos or an interview with someone mentioned in the release.
That follow-up phone call is absolutely essential. Otherwise, busy editors, journalists and reporters may place your release neatly in their “To Do Someday When I Get Around To It” file and never actually read it. A friendly phone call from you offering even more help to make their jobs easier will get them to read it, consider it and perhaps even publish it.
Once it has been published (hooray!), make a scene like the final dance scene in Footloose. Place it on your website, all of your social media profiles, and in your next eblast – make those 15 minutes of fame really count! One last word of advice: do use this form of advertising as often as you reasonably can but don’t overuse it – the media may start to ignore you. Your releases may not always get picked up, but when they do, it’s FREE ADVERTISING!