If you want to start getting amazing publicity for your business (and who doesn’t?!), then most entrepreneurs think you start with a press release. In my latest video I debunk some of the common myths about press releases, and tell you how (and when!) to write a press release that will get noticed by editors and journalists, and that will get your business some amazing coverage in the press!
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Today we’re going to talk about how to write the perfect press release to get journalists and editors interested in your business and featuring you in the press…
But firstly, what I ACTUALLY want to talk about is whether you SHOULD be writing a press release!
Quite often when people think about PR, they think ‘OK, I’ll write a press release and send it out to as many different publications, blogs & radio stations as possible, and see how much coverage I can get. But actually quite often this ISN’T the best way to get the best coverage for your business.
If you have a really ground breaking story that lots of different people across the country, and even across the world, are going to want to know about (and in fact NEED to know about), then by all means yes, send a press release. The big news agencies will want to know about it and all the different newspapers, magazines and radio stations are going to want to cover the story.
BUT – if you want to get featured in, for example, a specific niche magazine, then I actually DON’T recommend you send a press release, I recommend you send a really targeted and personal email with your pitch for the story you’d like to put forward, outlining why you think you’d be a great match for their magazine, and really showing them that you’ve paid attention to what they actually write about and what their readers enjoy ~ I go into this process in even more detail in The Publicity Program™
This is the same for podcasts, guest blogs and all media pitches really (with the exception of regional papers who do still sometimes ask for press releases).
Think of it this way –
A big glossy magazine, or even a blog, are not going to want to be running exactly the same story as their competitors.
They’re going to want to include stories that are really unique and original, and that are going to set them apart from their competitors, and which their readers are really going to love to read.
This is why I recommend that you send different pitches to different magazines.
If one magazine says no, then by all means send it on to another one. Just don’t send them out all at the same time!
Now, I do a lot of blogging and I’m registered on an online list of bloggers, with my contact details available for people. Now, in the past I have seen from the other side of the coin some really bad examples of PR agencies mass sending out press releases.
The other day I had one agency send me a press release asking me if I wanted to review a new restaurant, which sounds fantastic – apart from I don’t blog about restaurants, and I don’t review restaurants! But anyway, I was thinking well I could pop along, apart from the fact that this restaurant was based in New York! I’m based in Bristol in the UK, so unless they were willing to pay for my flight over there, then I’m probably not going to go and review their new restaurant!!
I have a sneaking suspicion they weren’t going to pay for my flight.
But really, what this showed to me was that they had just sent out a blanket press release to as many different bloggers, journalists and publications as possible, without paying ANY attention to who I am, what I do and what I write about!
I’m not going to lie, it’s a little bit annoying. It clogs up your inbox and it doesn’t encourage you to work with those people in the future.
This is why I’m suggesting you send really targeted pitch emails.
When to write a press release
Now all that being said, I’m not suggesting press releases are completely defunct. There is a place for the press release. They are a really good way for you to get across key information in a quick way and a format that journalists know.
They can be particularly useful if you’re working with local press. So you might want to let a local paper, magazine and radio station all know about something you’re doing or an event you’re putting on in the local area. In that scenario, a press release would be a good idea.
If you’re sending a pitch to a magazine, you could include a press release under your targeted pitch email, but make it clear that you are sending it to them first, and they get first refusal on the story before you send it out to other places.
How to write a press release
- The headline
Make it stand out, but shy away from gimmicky and silly headlines unless you’re sending it to a publication who actually use that kind of headline! You want to include the key point of the press release, pique their interest and encourage them to read on.
- The first paragraph of the press release
This is where you include the who, what, where, when and why? So what are the key points of the story that you’re promoting.
The ‘why?’ is really important for you to think about ~ something may seem really important to you and your business, but you need to think about the bigger picture and concentrate on the readers (or listeners!) of the publication you are contacting. Why is it important to them and why do they need to know about it? This is where you need to come at it from a place of giving. You need to think about the readership and what they want to hear about. We cover the ‘why’ in even more detail The Publicity Program™
Give more information and weave in the story. Keep it factual and include a quote from a spokes person or case study.
4. Final paragraph
Include your contact details, a note that you have some high quality images and any additional information they may need to know.
- Notes to Editors
This comes after the main press release and doesn’t include information about your story, but it does include more general information about your business and your business bio. It saves them time having to do lots of research themselves.
So, now that you’ve written your press release and a personalised email, and pressed send – what happens next?
Often you don’t hear anything! This may sound depressing – but it isn’t. Remember that editors and journalists and so busy and some receive hundreds of emails every day. With the local papers, if you’ve given them everything that they need, they may even run the story without you knowing.
Send a polite follow-up email in a week or so asking if they plan to cover your story, or if there is anything else that they can help with.
Ring them! Have a chat – but don’t just ask ‘did you receive my press release?’ – how annoying! Come at it from a place of giving – how can you help them? If you’re approaching local press, you could even offer to take them for a coffee. Build relationships with journalists so that they think of you as someone helpful instead of someone badgering them to get into their newspaper or magazine!
Monitoring your coverage
It’s important that you use tools like Google news and Google alerts to monitor your business and see when it’s getting mentioned online. You can also pay for clipping services to monitor print coverage for you, or just buy the paper yourself!