Sunday, February 28, 2010

Don't Write the Words, You'll Kill Yourself.

Remember that commercial, "Don't take the car, you'll kill yourself" That is true of writing your own press releases. Last night I had another conversation with a business owner asking about press releases. I will shed some light, as many have before me, to the question that plaques small business owners everywhere. How do I do it? If you have a story to tell, or want to make people aware of your event or fundraising activities, know about your addition to urban sprawl, launching a new product or want to talk about an existing product line or just want the press you deserve; you should let your local media know by sending them a press release. There are other ways to get found in your hometown online. Check this out:

Sending the local media your press release still holds true but we have more items to consider. When a term is entered into the search engines, the results often seem arbitrary, random, or just don't match what you are looking for. SEO Press Releases are the way to get your website into that top ranking, and listed on the first page of the search engines. Search engine optimization, (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is growing at an alarming rate, predicted to be a $13 billion dollar industry in 2010. Combine this with the introduction of new SEO technologies including social media, blogs, and user generated distribution it is critical that your business looks at the resources a PR Specialist can bring.

Many businesses want to write the release themselves. Big mistake! Someone with professional level writing skills and ample public relations experience will probably be your best bet for writing a press release that meets industry standards. Although small business owners often write and distribute their own press releases, it goes without saying that they may know their business but not the PR business. You should strongly consider hiring a professional. PR Specialists are usually proficient writers, will be privy to current best practices and updated journalist formatting preferences. Although it may seem cliché to say, press release writing truly is an art, and journalists are beyond savvy when it comes to deciphering a newsworthy piece of information from a fluffy, sorry excuse for a press release. Not only is it insulting to them when you waste their precious time by tooting your own horn about nothing special, but what's makes you look bad. In addition, they know where to distribute it utilizing the catch phrases of today such as SEO and social media marketing. For us PR is easy, for you the small business it may not be. Why not ensure success and hire the professional? But maybe you are saying I can’t afford it.

If that is the case, the following may help. If you really want to understand what goes in to writing a great press release, and to find out if the information you are sending is up to par, ask yourself these 5 simple questions:

Is your press release:

1. Attention Getting
The first question you should ask yourself before you even dive into writing a press release. Is it newsworthy? Don’t know what is newsworthy? There are no pat answers. But some general guidelines exist. Below are several characteristics that can make information newsworthy. The more of these characteristics a piece of information has, the more newsworthy the information is.

• information has impact if it affects a lot of people

• information has timeliness if it happened recently

• information has prominence if it involves a well-known person or organization

• information has proximity if it involves something happened somewhere nearby

• information has conflict if it involves some kind of disagreement between two or more people.

• information has weirdness if it involves something unusual or strange

• information has currency if it is related to some general topic a lot of people are already talking about

2. Do your homework! We all have homework. Remember writing a paper when you were in school? How you didn't cite any of your sources? Needless to say, journalists are much like teachers: they want to see that you've done your homework and that you have a thorough understanding of the topic on which you are writing. No, you don't need actual citations in your press release, but you should definitely be prepared to answer in depth questions if the situation presents itself.

3. A timely press release is the first cousin of a researched press release. That is to say, a press release that is relevant to current events or cutting edge technology is more likely to get noticed. Remember, it is important to be aware of trends in your particular industry so that you can seize opportunities to create the news!

4. The golden rule still applies: Tell the Truth
Ask yourself: is the press release written in simple, concise, factual language void of industry jargon and buzz terms? Can I get my point across in an understandable manner in less than 400 words?

5. Media Ready
A reporter or editor should be able to take the information from your press release and plop it into any medium without having to correct bad grammar, or call to get specifics on what the heck you are trying to say. The key is to make the journalist's job as simple as possible. If you master this, then your chances of getting press placement will increase exponentially.

You can either adapt to an industry press release template like this:

Contact Person
Company Name
Telephone Number
Email Address
Web site address
City, State, Date — Opening Paragraph (should contain: who, what, when, where, why):
Remainder of body text – Should include any relevant information to your products or services. Include benefits, why your product or service is unique. Also include quotes from staff members, industry experts or satisfied customers.
If there is more than 1 page use:

(The top of the next page):
Abbreviated headline (page 2)
Remainder of text.
(Restate Contact information after your last paragraph):
For additional information or a sample copy, Contact: (all Contact information)
Summarize product or service specifications one last time
Company History (try to do this in one short paragraph)
# # #
(indicates Press Release is finished)

Or develop your own by following some tips:

No comments:

Post a Comment