Part of any promotional strategy for any size business in any industry or market should be the Press Release. This simple tool is used to communicate information – news. The classical definition of “news” is that this is information that is new…something heretofore not yet announced or known.
A press release should also impart value to the reader. That value can be:
- information of general interest…people are always interested in something they didn’t know previously. Such information might be that the coral reefs in your area are now a protected marine sanctuary. This news doesn’t inform the reader that you have a travel destination; it doesn’t give them information about a new product…but it does give them updated information that appeals to people interested in the ocean and who might be acquainted with your area.
- information about a new product or service…your company may be launching a new product or it has changed its pricing on a popular product line. In this case the press release imparts necessary information for the readers who might be interested in what your company produces.
- information about a change of location or a new location…if you don’t tell, people won’t know. If your company adds a retail location or changes where people can come in to obtain services, a press release is a good way to get the information out there.
- an announcement of a business award or nomination…in the world of business, reputation is sometimes built by the accolades the business receives from its peers…and this is of interest to the readers targeted by the press release. A business blog, written by an entrepreneur, that is awarded inclusion on a “Top Blog” list, for instance, is news. The blog owner would send out a press release announcing this award…this type of press release promotes not just the writer, but also whatever entity did the awarding…in human affairs it’s always news to announce good tidings.
In most cases, the simpler and more straightforward the press release, the better chance it has of being accepted and used by the recipient news agency. Follow the usual W’s of Who, What, When, Where, Why…sometimes add How and/or How Much. Put the salient information in the very first sentences. At most have a one-page release. If more information would be helpful, include a Fact Sheet, bulleted only…and always include adequate contact information.
On a personal level, I’ve worked as a newspaper reporter early in my working life, so I have been on both sides of the press release – I’ve received them and I’ve written them. The best press release will have:
- Headline – always include one…it may not be used, but always include one; it should, in a few words, summarize what the press release is all about [example: Business Able Opens New Location]
- The first few sentences should give all the pertinent information: who, what it is, where it is, when it is, why it is important…in the example: Business Able, the top seller of women’s shoes on the west coast, will open its third retail location in a morning ceremony, Wednesday, April 30 at 9 a.m. The new store, in the recently opened Boxer Shopping Center, welcomes local dignitaries and the public will receive special coupons and incentive giveaways.
- The body of the press release might include a more detailed information, if appropriate; it might also include quotes. As example: “It is an honor to be the flagship store for the new Boxer Shopping Center,” said Mr. Jones, founder of Business Able. “We are grateful to our customers, suppliers and the staff who have seen us through both hard times and good.”
- Either at the top of the press release before the headline, or at the end following the ### symbols indicating the end of the release, include appropriate contact information: a name and either phone number or email address. You never know when an enterprising reporter will be interested in contacting you and expanding upon the story.
If you think it requires it, include a Fact Sheet…this is more easily done with press releases that are submitted by traditional mail than by email enclosures. In the case of the example above a bulleted Fact Sheet could include salient information about the date that Business Able was founded and where its first store was located; it could give some interesting details about the founder; it could give some interesting points about the most popular products of the business.
Press Releases don’t have to be long novel-length documents…and should not be. They should also not be self-serving advertisements. Press Releases should be the tool that you use to communicate information that is news-worthy and of interest to whatever population segment you target.