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Effective Press Releases Leverage Your Marketing Dollar

By: Molly Gordon

Molly Gordon is a Certified Professional Coach and Certified Teleclass Leader.;

Leverage your marketing dollar with press releases. The press release is a simple, inexpensive, and powerful tool for obtaining recognition for your work. Use it to announce events, promotions, awards, commissions and other milestones. In the words of business author Dr. Judith Bardwick, "To be perceived as visible increasingly means one is perceived as successful." You can achieve local, regional, national, even international visibility be embarking on a campaign of issuing regular, pertinent press releases.

Getting Started

Read widely. Read your local newspaper, business newsletters, trade journals and magazines appropriate to your business. As you read, notice what kinds of articles get printed. Become aware of opportunities for publicizing your own work. Clip articles and calendar listings to use as references when you write your own releases. 

Pay attention to the length, style and tone of what you read, and imitate those traits when you write your own material. Journalism has forms and conventions like any other medium, and it is simply good manners to adopt these forms and conventions when you communicate about yourself to journalists.

Whatís Newsworthy?

Every story needs an angle or hook to make it interesting. Notice what gets published and pay attention to what makes it interesting. You donít have to mold yourself to suit the media; but it will behoove you to throw your pitches to players who are inclined to catch them.

Begin by examining your experience, interests, and goals to determine what is unique about your work. This is what makes you newsworthy. Ask yourself what you makes you different from your competitors, what makes your best customers come back, what keeps your best employees showing up with enthusiasm.

Build a Distribution List

Itís important to compile both local and trade media information so you know where to send releases. Start by looking up information for the publications, radio and television stations that you use. It is likely that your releases will appeal to the media that appeal to you. Youíll find the names of editorial staff as well as addresses and phone numbers on the masthead of magazines and newspapers. Check the library for media directories such as Baconís Publicity Checker and Editor & Publisher Yearly. Youíll find online directories at .

As you assemble your mailing list include the following data:
  • contact name(s) and title(s)
  • company
  • address
  • phone
  • fax
  • frequency of publication (daily, weekly, etc)
  • deadlines for press release copy
  • deadlines for calendar listings
  • deadlines for ad copy
  • remarks as to the main interest of the publication
  • the date you entered/revised the information.

Writing the Release

Lead with the most important information. This means that your name and work should be in the first sentence. Place additional details in descending order of importance. Editors are prone to start cutting from the end of a story, so youíll want to put the least important information there.

Write a lead paragraph, stating the who, what, when, where, how and why of your story. What are you announcing, asking for or crowing about?

Next, write a paragraph developing the background of your story. When did it all start? Why is it important? How long have you been working on it? This is a good place to incorporate information that will appeal to specific news outlets. A local paper will want to know that you live in their reader area. Fine Homebuilding will want to know you are a contractor.

Finally, summarize your credentials and let people know how to get in touch with you.

Keep sentences short and to the point. Use words that connote your values and vision as well as stating the facts. For example, "Anderson crafts these magical vessels in her Island studio. Notice how the underlined words contribute to the sense that this work is special. Compare to "Anderson makes these pots at home." Itís no crime to imbue your work with importance. It might, in fact, be a crime not to!

When you write about yourself, choose words that have solid, impressive, positive connotations, but be sure that they apply or you'll make just the opposite impression. Choose words that communicate the quality and quantity of your work, experience, training, inspiration. As space permits, include brief details that contribute to the overall impression which you wish to make.

As you gain experience writing press releases, you may wish to write longer pieces. It is wise, however, to stick to one page of double-spaced copy. This is because editors have a virtually infinite need for readable, pertinent copy in three to five paragraph chunks. Editing is often an exercise in fitting news items around advertisements, so your frequent, brief releases are the answers to editorial prayers.

  1. Use business letterhead or put your name, business name, street and mailing address, city, state, zip, business phone number (including area code) at the top of your release.

  2. Type your releases in easy-to-read fonts. A handwritten release is unacceptable. Always double space so that editors can mark-up your copy with ease. If it's not easy to edit, it's not likely to get published.

  3. State the date and indicate your requested release date. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE indicates that the material is current and that it may be disseminated immediately at the discretion of the editor. FOR RELEASE ON MONDAY, JUNE 14, indicates that the text will not be appropriate until that date. This latter format is sometimes used when people send releases including the text of remarks made at a public forum.

  4. Type CONTACT: followed by your name, title, and phone number including area code (yes, again, even though it's on your letterhead)

  5. Provide a simple headline. This serves as the title for your piece and may even be printed if you happen to land on the desk of an over-tired editor. The best headlines use action words and are brief.

  6. The text of your release. Remember, double space this. Leave wide margins, say 1-1/2", on all sides. If your release is longer than one page, be sure to number all pages including the first. Type ### in the center of the last page at the end of your release to confirm that the text has come to an end.

  7. If you are faxing a brief release, it is more important to get it all on one page than to double space it. This reduces the chance for the second page to get lost in the blizzard of paper in most newspaper and magazine offices.

© Molly Gordon 2000. All rights reserved.

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.


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