I always knew journalists were hungry for a story, but my degree in Journalism taught me just how thankful they can be for quick wins. Experience has also shown me that this gratitude can be leveraged into free advertising if done the right way. I can’t count the number of times my friends in the creative industry have managed to snag paper space in local newspapers for album releases, YouTube videos, and blog pieces. So why aren’t businesses doing the same thing when they release new products, newly open, or change their business strategy?
Marketing using advertising, social media, emails and events can help a business grow over time, but one newspaper story can result in a surge of customer attention and awareness.
So how can you leverage this knowledge using a press release?
To begin with, you need to understand what exactly a press release is. To put it simply, it’s a document which includes needed information about a newsworthy story. Reporters can use it to develop an article, or they might reach out to you for additional information.
To succeed in writing a press release, you need to
The kind of information which is newsworthy will differ on your business size and what is happening within it. Simply sharing how great your products are and asking for new customers isn’t newsworthy, but sharing specific actions or events might be.
For example, a local or regional paper might be interested in events such as:
Before you start brainstorming, purchase multiple local newspapers, and analyse which stories make the headlines. Understanding which stories make the cut, and which angle is used when they are shared, might help you pitch your business story in a way which interests journalists.
Of course, if you have a very big story or a story of special significance, you may also be able to target larger news providers.
So that journalists can quickly scan through them, press releases follow set formats (and should be kept as short and relevant as possible! Think bullet points, clear paragraphs, and no unnecessary back patting).
Because of this there are key elements which are must haves in each release. For instance, these include:
Once you’ve got a story and crafted your release, it’s time to submit it for distribution. There are a number of paid services you can use to do this, such as:
But you don’t necessarily need to pay in order to get your story into print.
By reading through existing publications, you can identify which journalists may be best suited or most interested in your story, and then reach out to them directly via email or social media. Some publications also accept submissions online, or have detailed contact information.
Putting your business in the local paper may be something you haven’t considered before, but if you’ve invested time and energy in a special situation, it might be worth exploring the option.
- Lena Klein