Hiring a public relations firm or independent PR pro is a great way to go, but many small businesses do not have that kind of marketing budget. However, you can still get noticed by writing and distributing press releases on your own.
Writing a good press release isn’t easy. Even experienced pros forget to include key information or fail to make the main point of the release clear. The worst thing a press release can do is make you look bad – the opposite of what you’re trying to do. With that in mind, here are eight tips for writing a good press release about your small business:
- Remember the basics. Every press release should include the name of a person to contact for more information, along with that person’s title or position with the business, a phone number and email address. You should also include the date, city where the news is occurring, and a short, punchy headline that captures the essence of the news you are announcing.
- Avoid jargon. You live and breathe the intricacies of your business – including its unique terminology, acronyms and language. But don’t assume others know what you’re talking about. Write like you are explaining it to a savvy person in an entirely different field.
- Get to the point. You only have a few seconds to capture your target reader, so your release must cut to the chase quickly. Your lead paragraph should be catchy, brief and with enough spice to make them want to read on.
- Include links to your website, blog and social media pages. Even seasoned PR pros sometimes botch this one. We live in a web-centric, social media-crazed world. The first thing most journalists, editors and prospects will do if they find your story interesting is check out your website or other online presence for more information. It’s stunning how many businesses put out press releases without including this information.
- Answer this question: “What is the news here?” Reporters, editors, bloggers and other readers of your release aren’t interested in a sales pitch or lecture. Build your story around a news “hook” of some kind – such as an upcoming event, award, a milestone, or a new product or service.
- Quote the expert. Use direct quotes from key people involved in the news of your press release. Don’t be afraid to create quotes for yourself if you are that expert. But make the quotes conversational and interesting. They should add something new — don’t just repeat information already stated in the press release.
- Accuracy counts. Make sure that every fact in your release is accurate and can be verified. Also make sure that the people mentioned have given you permission for what you write about them. Good spelling and grammar are important. Mistakes reflect poorly on you. Have other people edit and proofread your release before it goes out.
- Include an About Us paragraph at the end. This is standard in a business release; all the big companies do it. It’s a two or three sentence synopsis of what your business does and should include a link to your website.
Once you write the release, mail or email it to a list of media, including bloggers, that you compile yourself or purchase from a media database provider such as Cision or Burrelles-Luce. Small businesses are also turning to online press release distribution services such as Businesswire, PR Newswire, My PR Genie, PRWeb and others that offer a timesaving way to post your releases online and get them noticed.