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05/14/2008 - Press Releases
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Vol. 1 No. 9 - May 14, 2008
In This Issue
- Press Releases
- What's a Press Release?
- How to Write a Press Release
- How To Layout Your Document
- Where To Send Your Press Release
Welcome to the May 14th edition of Scribbles!. In our last issue we talked about creating a Do-It-Yourself feeder site in order to promote your main site and/or new products and services. Today we'll talk a little bit about how to take advantage of free (or nearly free) "real-world" self-promotion by using press releases.
Newspapers and other media venues are looking for new content all the time, and they are willing and even eager to print "news" about your business. Once you learn how to write an interesting puff piece, and divine who to send it to at your local paper, community business journal or radio station, you'll be surprised at how willing they are to publish it.
What Is A Press Release?
- News-like vs. Advertisement
The dry definition of a press release is a written piece about you and your business which is issued to the media. Hardly scintillating stuff, eh? Not very descriptive.
What makes a good press release? First, it should be of genuine interest to your target audience. It should inform them instead of overtly selling something. And it should be written in an objective, news-like journalistic style instead of a marketing or sales style.
So there it is. A press release is a written news-like document that informs readers about your business, products or services without overtly selling them anything.
How to Write a Press Release
- The Five Ws + Newsworthy + Human Interest
If you've ever hung around journalists, whether in school or out in "the real world", you probably heard them use the words Who, What, Where, When and Why. I like to throw in How, but that's only 'cause I'm a computer geek. Just make sure you hit the Five Ws or the Editor may file your piece in the recycle bin.
In addition to the Five Ws, add a newsworthy twist to you story. Talk a little bit about the history of your company and how or why you got into the business. Perhaps you are introducing a new line of widgets. Announce that you going to donate five cents of every new widget you sell to the local Retired Widget Makers Home. Great human interest stuff — put it in your headline.
Once you've written about the item you wanted to publicize and added a newsworthy spin, it's time to close. The piece itself should only be between 500 to 700 words long.
How to Layout Your Document
- Basic Press Release Page Design
Now it's time to layout you document. One of the simplest and most effective ways is to type your name, address and phone number (single spaced) in the upper left corner of the paper. Drop down several spaces and type the next few lines, center justified: “Press Release”. Two spaces below, type “For Immediate Release”. Two or three spaces below that, type your proposed headline. Insert three or four more lines and begin your text (left justified), indenting the beginning of each paragraph by one tab space (about four or five regular spaces). Make sure that the text is double-spaced and that you only print on one side of the paper.
Where To Send Your Press Release
- Start Small, Work Your Way Up
Unless you've hired a full-fledged Advertising Agency/PR Firm, you or someone in your organization is going to be composing your pieces. Until you or they have a track record you are better off gaining experience by submitting your efforts to small local papers and publications.
Once you've determined which section of the paper your article best fits find out who the Editor for that section is. If the paper lists the Editor's phone number, call that person. Tell them about your press release and ask when would be a good time to submit it. Find out the following:
Request a copy of the paper's Editorial Calendar to see what time of year is best to submit the kinds of articles you are likely to write.
- Do they prefer printed paper, a fax or e-mail?
- Should you call back to see if they received the piece?
- Once your press release is reviewed, will the staff tell you if and when the piece is going to run?
Like many aspects of marketing your business, press releases aren't rocket science. They are a very low-cost way to get the word out about you, your company and the goods and services you provide. Stick to the facts, add a little human interest and make the piece newsworthy, and you should be able to convince a newspaper editor to publish your piece with little difficulty. For more information about press releases please read Wikipedia's article, here.
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