Writing a press release can be a great way to get free publicity for your business, without spending any money. As such, it is very competitive and it takes some skill to write a successful one that gets used in publications.
How to write your release
The first thing to consider when writing a press release is whether or not your story is actually newsworthy. An editor is not going to use a press release unless it’s going to have a wide appeal. Ask yourself whether your story is the kind of thing you would take the time to read?
If the answer is yes, you can started. Make sure that you keep what are called the six-w’s in mind as you work: who; what; where; when; why; and how.
Using the new restaurant opening, below is an example of this in action.
Who? Al’s American Diner
What? Opening a new restaurant
Where? York city centre
When? 9th August
Why? To expand its market and bring a new taste of America to York.
How? Al’s American Diner has bought an old retail outlet and spend £100,000 re developing it into an American themed diner.
Try to incorporate these within the first few paragraphs. Editors like to have the most important information right at the top of the page. If the reader has to work to find crucial information, it is unlikely you get the response you want from your press release.
That works for your title too. Try to sum up your story in the title. For example; ‘Al’s American Diner to open new outlet in York.’ Once all the vital information has been included, you can then go on to add extra information and build up your story. Try to keep your information relevant and work to a rough word count of between 300 and 600 words.
How to correctly format your release
Once you have written your press release, you will need to take a look at how it is formatted before you send it out to newspapers. Best practise is to supply a simple word document. This ensures any potential publishers will be able to open your attachments, as well as use its content. Write your proposed release date along the top, followed by the title of your piece.
If possible, you should then include an image. Images are a great way to get people’s attention. Underneath the picture, include a small caption explaining what is happening in the image, or where and when it was taken.
Follow the image with the bulk of your text, and finish with a ‘notes to editor’ section. These notes should include some key facts about your business, as well as some contact information.
How to contact newspapers
Now that you have got a draft of your press release written, you can start sending it to publications. Try searching online for a few local media outlets that you would like your press release to feature in.
A good tip is to look for specific sections of a publication that your press release could fit in to. If it is a business press release, approach the editors of the business sections of your local paper. Many local papers will feature a section on their editors or reporters, and these will include the contact details you need. If they do not list contact details, you may be able to find that information online.
Address your email to the contact you have found, and give a very brief summary of the press release. When you attach your document for them to have a read through, make sure you also attach any images you want associating with the piece, ideally in JPEG format. This makes it much easier for publishers to put together your press release.
Do not worry if not all the people you contact get back in touch. It is a busy, highly saturated industry, and they will get lots of content offers every day. You only need one or two people to say yes to get your press release out in to the world. One thing to be aware of though, is that editors often have specific guidelines for content, and so they might ask you to make a few tweaks to what you have written. This is great feedback, and shows that they are interested in publishing your piece, so be open to their suggestions.
Repeat the process with the different newspaper contacts you have found, and hopefully you will get some free publicity having spent a bit of time and effort rather than money.