Every business has a story to tell and it should be told, but sometimes crafting the perfect press release is a daunting task. Should I write it or pay for someone to write it? What should be included? What format does it need to be in? Who should I distribute it to? Am I going to reach the right person who will want to pick up my story? These are all valid questions, but the most important one is left out.
Is it NEWS?
If your story is newsworthy it will practically write itself. Trying to find an interesting way to say that you have hired a new business manager is going to be agonizing because unless you’re a Fortune 500 business, no one cares that much. Well maybe the new manager’s mother, but that does not warrant a press release. This type of news may get you a mention in the local paper’s business section or a local business publication, but that information can be sent to the publication in a quick email. There’s really no need for a press release, but still be sure to include all relevant information.
Who is going to pick up your story? That’s not that hard to figure out either, but it does take time and relationship building. How do you do this?
Get to know your contacts
Small businesses typically operate within a certain market. Pay attention to who writes about your industry or who reports about your industry in your market. Get to know them by doing things that are as simple as following them on social media and interacting with them, or inviting them to coffee just to get to know them. Pick their brains and find out how they like to receive their information. Do they want to be contacted via email, text or social media? Don’t pitch your story on the first meeting – just build a relationship with them. And in the future, don’t take advantage of that relationship you have created. Pitch your story and let the reporter decide how she is going to run with it. She may find a different angle that she thinks her readers will find more interesting. Go with that and be as helpful as possible providing accurate information in a timely manner. Remember she has a deadline. Oh – and know what those deadlines are. A local paper is going to have a much shorter turnaround time than a national monthly publication that is planning content 4 months ahead of time.
Is there a perfect format?
Not really, unless you intend to submit the release to an organization such as PR Web or PR Newswire you don’t necessarily need to adhere to a specific format.What you do need to do is make sure that it is well written and without errors. If the story is newsworthy, is sent to the correct person that you have created relationships with, and is engaging, your story should be picked up by the media. Provide information that is clear and concise, in either paragraph or bullet points, whatever makes sense to you and your reader, and include good quality photos or video in a vertical format as the vast majority of users view video this way. Most phones do create high enough quality for this purpose. Be sure to include contact information and be available to answer questions.
Now, go out and tell your story.