If you're just starting out, or have a limited marketing budget, you can sometimes feel helpless against the bigger companies that are spending millions of dollars marketing their brands.
The good news is, you can start getting the attention of local and national media through a simple press release.
Press releases are often the first point of contact a newspaper or magazine has with a business, leading many to end up in an online story, quoted in the magazine, or even on the cover!
If you've never written a press release before, you can enlist the help of a professional, or try your hand at one yourself, using the steps below.
1. Decide what you'll announce in your release. Are you having a grand opening, receiving an award, introducing a new menu, welcoming a new CEO, celebrating an anniversary, etc.? Your press release must announce a timely, newsworthy event, or the media will have a hard time finding it interesting.
2. Create a list of publications/editors you'd like to send the release to. There's a great resource online that links to almost all of the newspapers in the U.S., making it easy to select papers/editors to send your release to. Be sure to choose appropriate editors for your news (i.e., food editors, lifestyle editors, etc.). Keep in mind that you'll have a better chance of getting information out faster if you approach newspapers or online publications since they are daily or weekly. Most magazines work at least two months ahead of publication dates, so your news could be old by the time they print it.
Still interested in magazine contacts for news that has more lead time? Pull up the website of your favorite magazine and click on the contact us page. (TIP: When emailing your release to a group of editors, BCC the group; editors do not appreciate their email address being shared with everyone.)
3. Find a template online or in MS Word. There are many online templates that allow you to plug your information into them. Browsing what others have written will also help you perfect your own style.
4. Include the most important information at the top. Journalism school teaches writers to always tell the reader the "who, what, when, where and why" right away. You'll want to grab the reader's attention in the first paragraph. Editor's receive a lot of mail and may not read your entire release. Give them the good stuff at the start.
5. Set the proper tone. Make sure your release uses third-person (avoid using "I," "we," etc.) and remember that journalists are reading the release, not customers. You are providing news, not trying to sell a product to them.
6. Include your contact information. Don't forget to put the best contact person at the top of your release, along with a couple of methods of contact (email, phone). If someone is interested in running your story, you want them to be able to contact you immediately.
7. Attach a relevant photo. Many times, editors are looking for last-minute news and your press release may arrive at just the right time. If you've included a high-resolution image, you have a better chance of making it into the paper or magazine immediately.
8. Follow up. Editors are busy people; if you haven't heard back from someone in a week or two, it's perfectly acceptable to send one quick follow-up email. Most appreciate the reminder.
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