Small Business Toolkit – Press Releases

What is a press release?

A press release is an announcement or communication (it can be in written, audio or video format) to the media at large, informing them about something newsworthy, so that they may distribute it as they see fit. A press release can be information about a group’s activities, an event, a new client or initiative – basically it’s about telling the world, or at least the media, about something really interesting.

How does that help me?

Press releases can be a great way to raise your company’s profile and can, potentially, result in new business. But taking the leap into the world of the media can be pretty daunting. It’s one thing to know that your company is doing some interesting things, but can you make those “things” sound interesting to anyone else, or at the very least, come up with a term other than “things” to describe them?  If you do manage to do that, how do you avoid your press release sounding like an extended elevator pitch? Yes, you’re writing the press release because you want to get some sales out of it, but how can it sound less…salesman-y?

Ask the Expert

We could continue asking rhetorical questions or we could get some answers. We decided to do the latter and asked Ashley Fryer, a PR professional and co-creator of www.thegreedygirls.com, a few questions on perfecting the art of press release writing:

Q1 : What length should a press release be?

Press release should never be longer than a page and half (including notes to editors), but ideally you want to keep it to one page. Journalists are absolutely inundated with press releases, so a long one doesn’t stand a chance.

Q2: Can company details, website, etc be included?

You can sneak company information into quotes (as they can’t be edited out) but the bulk of company info should be included in the notes to editors. You should always include a web address, a bit of background on the company, and contact information – either of a PR representative or a spokesperson who can be contacted for further info.

Q3: What makes a good press release?

Above all, a press release should be newsworthy. A lot of brands make the mistake of putting out too many press releases about small, unimportant things. Ask yourself why someone would be interested to read it and why a journalist or an editor would want to write about it. A good press release should be concise and succinct, and it’s important to get the most important messages in the first paragraph. Embargoes can be useful too, as they mean that the journalists are all held to the same release time, which can mean more coverage, as no one can beat them to the story.

Q4: Should a press release read like a newspaper article or should it be more marketing based?

Don’t write it like an article – it’s about the facts, but it also needs to contain your brand’s messaging. You need to start with the key info (what makes the press release newsworthy) and then go into a quote from your relevant person (such as the MD or the COO). Put key messages in the quotes, especially if they’re not possible to quantify – such as ‘this is quite simply the best yogurt on the market’. Less important details can follow the quote, and then broader information can be in the notes to editors.

Q5: How can I get my press release published?
The key thing is to target people who will actually be interested in your news. You will need to use a PR agency or someone with access to journalist databases such as Features Exec or Gorkana in order to get the right email addresses – or you can use a press release service such as Business Wire, who will send your press release out for you. Target people who are in the industry or have an interest in your brand – a misdirected press release can be the subject of ridicule on social media if you’re not careful! Don’t underestimate the value of using social media to get your message out there – it can be a powerful tool in driving traffic to the news section of your website.

 

Ash photo25

 

Ashley is a PR professional working in London, with a mountain of experience in communications and public relations, dealing with a range of clients from corporate firms to public bodies. She is also the co-founder of the wonderful website The Greedy Girls, who you can follow on Twitter here, along with being a “food blogger, writer lady and cake enthusiast”, though not necessarily in that order…

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