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How to craft a kick-ass press release


A newspaper on a desk alongside a smartphone, a cup of coffee and a houseplant.
A well-written, newsworthy press release is an effective way of promoting your business to the public and therefore a wider audience.

As a small business owner, you probably focus your marketing efforts on your website and social media.


Both can be effective tools for connecting with your ideal clients, however if you overlook traditional PR completely you might be missing a trick.


Sending a well-written, newsworthy press release for publication to a local newspaper or magazine, or an industry title, is a good way of promoting your business to the general public and therefore a wider audience.


As publication is free of charge, a press release can be economical as the only cost is the time it takes you to write and send it.


To stand a chance of having your release published, you must write in a clear and informative way about something significant and specific in your business which is of interest to the public.


Here are my top tips for writing a press release:


PREPARE

  • A press release is a written announcement about something new and/or newsworthy. It can be about a new product or service you’re launching, an event you’re running or a significant change in your business.

  • As a former journalist and news editor, I know how many press releases are deleted because they have no news value and are purely promotional – so avoid this at all costs!

  • While you may be excited about your new online karate course, is the public or media going to be?

  • To determine if something is newsworthy, think about the things that interest you and why stories about them grab your attention.

  • What might be news to one publication might be different to another so read the publication you are aiming at to get a flavour for the type of stories they cover.

WRITE

  • Journalists get hundreds of press releases each week and many remain unopened so your email subject header needs to stand out. Say ‘press release’ or ‘story idea’ in your subject along with a brief headline which summarises the story concisely and precisely. The email subject can also be the headline of your press release.

  • The first line of your release should be a summary of the story and read like the opening line of a news story.

  • Try to get as many of the Five Ws (who, what, where, when and why) in the opening line and use at least two quotes from people in your business.

  • Use quotes to provide insight and opinion and make sure they sound like a real person has said them by avoiding jargon and technical language.

  • A press release should be around a single side of A4 in length with sub-headings and bullet points to make the information more digestible.

  • Don’t forget to include contact information and photographs if they are relevant to the story.

SEND


Paste your press release into the body of your email rather than in an attachment and include a summary of your story at the top in your message to the journalist.

  • Do your homework and send your release to a specific email, such as a news editor, rather than a generic address.

REVIEW

  • You probably won’t hear back from a journalist unless they’re interested in your story and have a specific question or follow-up request.

  • Journalists are overwhelmed by the number of press releases they receive and don’t have time to respond to them all.

  • If you don’t hear anything, it doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t going to run the story but there’s no harm in a quick follow-up call to see if it will be used. But, whatever you do, don’t be a pest and bombard them with calls or emails!

  • If your press release is published, make sure you share a photo of the story on your social media along with the link if it is published digitally.

  • Don’t be disheartened if your first press release isn’t published. You will hone your writing skills and news sense as you craft each release and will eventually build up the know-how and contacts for success.

If you’re struggling to write a press release, I’m happy to do the work for you – in a fraction of the time. Send me a message.

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