Publicity can be great for your business and helps to build up a good reputation. Done well, it can create positive awareness and help to drives sales. You can start by writing a press release and targeting specific media outlets.
A press release is a written statement which you publish on your website or send to a journalist for inclusion in the media, it may be something you prompt to try and get some publicity for your business, it may be in response to a big story in your industry, or in response to a call for topical content from the media.
Local newspapers, magazines and radio are usually willing to run stories on new business ventures so you should make the most of this opportunity to spread the word about your business while you’re starting up and growing your business.
However, PR should be seen as a long-term strategy, getting publicity can take time and patience and should form part of your ongoing marketing plan.
How to write a great press release
You want to get some free coverage and raise awareness of your business/project/product/service – I get it. But before writing and sending out a press release, it’s important to ask yourself if there is value in your story and if it is newsworthy. If not, you just won’t get a response.
I’ve written many successful press releases for my own business and for clients, and want to share five key points to help make sure you stand the best chance of getting the publicity you want for your small business.
1. Who is involved?
Consider who the key players are. You/your company or staff, anyone else involved with the project/product. Who your news story affects/who it benefits. Who the audience is. Make notes on all of the relevant people and organisations before you start drafting your press release to make sure you don’t miss anyone off.
2. What’s the news?
Think about why this is important news. Does it link to recent news? Where is this happening? If there is a geographical angle or the location of the business is relevant then use it. Maybe the timing adds significance or links to a relevant event.
Jot down everything you can think of then decide what the most important points are for the press release. Try to add them in short and concise sentences so the story flows and makes sense to the reader. It’s essential that you get across the benefits that your news will bring; otherwise, it’s unlikely to get published.
3. Speak to your audience
The most important thing to think about when writing a press release is your target audience. The language used and angle taken that will interest the readers of an industry magazine is likely to be very different to those that read the local newspaper. If you wanted to send it to different journalists, you could write different versions of your release for the audiences you are trying to reach.
Understanding your target market (and your ideal customer) is key. Successful PR is about reaching the right people with the right message at the right time.
You really need to think about the audience you want to reach and understand what they enjoy, want and need. You should make sure your business is ready too – for a possible surge in sales, or for increased enquiries or requests for further publicity.
You should make it clear if the press release is for immediate release or for a future date, for example, you might be planning a huge product launch and send out press releases several weeks ahead in your preparations for the launch.
Give the press release a title, this should grab the journalist’s attention and encourage them to read more. Don’t get too hung up on this, most journalists or editors will change the title anyway if the story is to be used.
Keep it as short as possible. Get your points across but avoid waffle and lengthy explanations. Try to get all the key information into the first paragraph, then expand on this in the second paragraph, giving more detail. Add a quote or testimonial next. Then outline vital information, such as website, ordering details, event dates, times locations etc in the final paragraph.
At the end of the press release write ‘End’ in bold, then add your contact details (including mobile number so they can reach you any time of day/evening) and any notes to the editor, such as if images are available and background information on the business.
5. Find the journalist you need
If the journalist you send your press release to does not consider it newsworthy, it won’t get coverage, so make sure you’re sending it to the right person.
Look at the website or printed publication of the media company, read articles in the sections which you want to feature in and look for the journalist’s name on the article. There is sometimes a direct email address, which is great news! (pun totally intended), but more often than not the article will give their Twitter handle – this means you can reach them directly on Twitter, and they are going to be your way into that publication.
Twitter is also a good direct source of information for journalists, try looking at the hashtags #PRrequest or #JournoRequest or at Tweets by the publication to find the journalist you need.
These five tips will help you get noticed and your business get featured in the media. It’s not just about selling more products though.
6. Become the expert
PR isn’t always about news stories and updates from your business. You can also use it to position yourself an expert on a certain topic and provide a fresh insight or different view on a relevant subject.
Journalists often seek potential interviewees and experts to help them fill airtime and provide fresh content. Research key media companies and publications to identify possible opportunities and approach them with ideas. Radio programmes with regular phone-ins or interviews are ideal, as they are constantly looking for new people and topics to cover.
Happy press releasing! Let us know how it goes…