Effective Press Releases Leverage Your Marketing DollarBy: Molly Gordon
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.
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.
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 http://www.coachladybug.com/sa/pr/sapr3.html .
As you assemble your mailing list include the following data:
Writing the ReleaseLead 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.
SEVEN STEPS TO FORMATTING A PRESS RELEASE
© Molly Gordon 2000. All rights reserved.