A lot of business people assume that a writing and sending press release is a totally appropriate form of advertising for their business, without really giving it much thought. While a press release can be a very effective tool in the fight for media attention, there are certain guidelines which should be followed for best results. For those of you who aren’t sure about a press release or how to get it out there, here are a few popular press release questions and answers.
Q: Is my product newsworthy enough for a press release to be effective?
A: Bear this in mind: affiliate programs and business opportunities that can be found all over the Internet generally do not make good releases. A press release that isn’t truly newsworthy can end up sounding like a sales pitch, which can do irreparable damage to your company’s image.
Press releases should make an announcement about a new product or service, an event, or a change in the way a product or service is marketed. If your company has changed management, released or upgraded a product, or is staging an important event, you have material for a good release.
Also, any little-known business or service can make a good release if it serves the needs of the public in an interesting way. For example, I just wrote a release for a gentleman who provides a service that allows homeowners to pay off their mortgages years sooner, without making larger payments or refinancing their current loans. With mortgage rates falling and the real estate market picking up, that kind of material made a very good release.
So, a story that surrounds current events and peaks public interest usually makes good release material.
Q: Isn’t a press release similar to a sales letter that gets sent to the media?
A: A clever writer can take almost any subject and turn it into a press release without sounding like a sales letter. As great a talent as that is, however, media professionals will easily see through it. An effective press release doesn’t just SOUND newsworthy, it IS newsworthy. A sales letter in disguise does not make an effective release.
Above all, keep in mind that the last thing an editor wants to read is a sales pitch; sending them this kind of material will only get you blackballed in the media.
Q: How do I get my press release to the media?
A: There are tons of services out there that specialize in writing and / or sending out press releases. Prices vary, and so do the results. Most of these services can’t give you any guarantees about the kind of results you’ll see, because there are simply too many factors involved.
These days, however, many or most distribution services use email to send releases. Email is a fast, reliable, and cost-effective way to distribute, and gets just as much attention (if not more) than regular mail. There are also several web sites where you can post your release for free or at a cost, such as PRWeb.com and EmailWire.com. Media people often search these sites for material, but posting your release on these sites just won’t bring the same results as sending it direct.
Q: Who do I send my release to?
A: When sending a release, don’t be afraid to think relatively small. A lot of media people love to get local stories, so don’t overlook mailing your release to publications or media outlets in your home city or state.
Also, look for publications that specialize in the product or service you’re offering. If your new website is the first to offer customized window coverings online, try sending your release to home & garden magazines and design trade publications. Some distribution services have packages that target a certain segment of a particular market.
It’s always helpful to send your release to general interest media nationwide, especially if the information in your release will benefit the public at large. If this is all you send to, however, remember that your interest may not be as high as if you had targeted specific areas.
Sending your release to magazines or TV shows who specialize in pets, for example, may get your retractable leash a higher percentage of coverage, getting you more bang for your buck.
About the author
Meredith Pond is editor and manager of DrNunley’s http://CheapWriting.com, where you can download her FREE e-book full of business articles. See her low-cost writing and editing services for students and business people.