Posted: 11th May 2015
Local and national press coverage can significantly help small and growing businesses to raise their profile. The most common way of communicating to the media and connecting with your target publications is through a press release.
Bear in mind that newspapers and magazine receive hundreds of press releases so you need to identify a news angle so yours stands out from the crowd! This needs to be something of local interest for the regional press, such as a local businesswoman winning a prestigious national award. For the national trade and business press, the subject matter of the release needs to be relevant and have significance for their readers. Take some time to read thoroughly the newspapers and magazines you are keen to target, as this will give you an idea of the type of stories they cover.
As your press release is in competition with so many others, it needs to grab attention in the first few seconds, so a good headline is essential. A punchy first paragraph should follow, containing all the essential information (who, what, why, when, where) in a couple of sentences. Avoid the use of jargon or superlatives to communicate your message in a simple and effective way. Ideally the press release should contain short paragraphs, be formatted in double spacing and typed to fit one page of A4. If it runs on for more pages, write ‘continued’ at the bottom of the page. This is especially important when press releases are sent electronically, so the reader knows to scroll down for further information.
Make sure that all the important details, such as time, date and location are included and checked for accuracy before the release is sent out. At the end of the press release, write ‘End’. After this, include an ‘Editors notes’ section about yourself and your company, along with contact telephone, email and website address. This encourages the journalist to follow up with you for further information or comment.
If addressing press releases personally, verify your distribution list to make sure you have the right spelling and title for the recipient. As we all know, is it particularly annoying to receive mail that is wrongly addressed! It may be appropriate to produce different versions of the press release to appeal to varying types of publications. You will also need to tailor distribution dates to coincide with the lead times and copy deadlines for daily, weekly and monthly publications.
By providing an interesting relevant photograph to accompany your press release, you increase the attractiveness of your story, but do remember to caption any image you send. These tips, along with a bit of luck and perseverance, should help you achieve the press coverage you want for your business.
Sophie Merrill MCIPR is an independent PR and marketing consultant with full membership of the Institute of Public Relations and qualifications from the Chartered Institute of Marketing.