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The purpose of a press release is to bring a piece of news to the attention of the media: typically, you’ll send out a press release to promote your business or organization with the hopes of creating awareness as well as increasing your income.

Press releases can be very effective tools to bring the media’s attention to a particular event or topic. However, it’s easy to send out press release after press release, yet feel like you have nothing to show for it. You need to know how to effectively use a press release to market your business with press releases.

Guidelines for Good Press Releases

There are companies that send out press releases every week as a matter of course. Over time, the number of responses that company has received from members of the media have declined. Part of the issue is that it has worn out its welcome with some of the recipients, but another issue is that there simply isn’t something newsworthy going out in each of those press releases.

A press release has to tell a story that a member of the media will see as worth picking up: if your press release seems at all boring or even simply not relevant to the audience of the publication that has received it, that press release will immediately wind up in the trash can. Furthermore, some publications receive thousands of press releases each week — you’s must stand out to get the necessary attention.

Writing a press release is a specialized skill, as can be getting it into the hands of someone who can actually get your press release in to the news. In the past several years, your options have changed as far as press release writers you can work with. Some now specialize in crafting press releases that will specifically appeal to bloggers, for instance. However, across the different options for creating and distributing a press release, there are some things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure your press release is newsworthy. Many press releases can have important news for specific niches, but aren’t newsworthy for a more general publication.
  • Target your press releases carefully. Don’t try to send your press release to every publication, radio station, and blog under the sun. Focus on those publications that reach your target market — and personalize your press release as much as possible to each individual recipient.
  • Offer resources along with your press release. If a publication does pick up your story, they’ll need photos, quotes, contact information for sources, and more. Put together a media kit to send out with your press release and you’ll improve your chances. And while you may not be able to recycle a press release over and over again, you will be able to reuse your media kit.

The Format of a Good Press Release

A good press release starts with a cover letter, explaining why you think the story in question would be a good fit with a particular publication. Depending on how well you know your contact, that cover letter can range from casual to formal.

The press release itself is written like an article: it needs a headline, a clear explanation of the story or news you want coverage for, and a demonstration that the story in question is interesting. That sounds simple, but your press release needs to be polished and well-written. Considering that some publications will run press releases as they come in, it’s important that your press release is in good shape. More often than not, it makes sense to work with a professional press release writer to ensure that your press release truly showcases your business.

At the end of a press release, you’ll need to include further information for interested parties. Not only should your contact information be listed, but you should also direct your readers to further resources on the topic of your press release, such as photos they can use.

Measuring the Success of Your Press Release

Determining the success of a press release can be difficult. Depending on how timely a press release seems to its recipients, they may wait to write about it for a few weeks or even a month. And if you’re working with a large publication, the editorial calendar may be decided months in advance. On the other end of the spectrum, a blogger might publish a summary of your press release minutes after reading it.

In order to better evaluate the reach of your press releases, it’s important to make sure that you’ll see any references to your business. Since many reporters will not let you know that they’ve written about you, using tools like Google Alerts is a critical step to ensuring that you see any articles written as a result of your press release. It’s also worthwhile to follow up with the reporters and publications that you’ve sent your press releases to, although if there is not response, it’s best not to push too hard.

Keep track of any articles you see that cover the topic of your press release: the more articles, blog posts and other reporting you see, the more successful your press release is. Furthermore, keep track of the reporters responsible for that coverage. Many reporters write about fairly narrow topics and, if you have more news in their area down the road, will be more willing to look at your press releases.

Choosing a Press Release Writer

Working with a press release writer can significantly simplify the process of getting your press release ready to go. Some press release writers will not only write your release, but also will handle getting it out to reporters in your target market. It’s just a matter of choosing a press release writer who is a good fit for your business.

You have two options when it comes to deciding what type of press release writer to work with: you can hire a freelancer or you can choose a boutique PR firm. Having a lasting relationship with a PR firm can be very helpful, especially when the firm specializes in your industry. A firm also may have a wider reach when it comes to distributing press releases.

In contrast, a freelance press release writer often comes with a less expensive price tag — and may have just as in-depth a knowledge of your industry. It’s worth looking at both options when you’re ready to hire someone to handle your press releases. Either way, there are several questions worth asking when you’re considering a particular writer or firm:

  • Can I see samples of your work?
  • What publications have picked up a story from a press release you’ve written?
  • Will you handle distributing the press release?
  • Can you also put together a media kit?
  • Have you worked in the industry before?

Freelance Press Release Writers

  1. Jennifer Mattern
  2. Nicole Nascenzi
  3. Andrew Weitsman
  4. Katie Kemple
  5. Meryl Evans
  6. Kristen King
  7. Shonali Burke
  8. Charlene Rashkow
  9. Karen Kefauver
  10. Leslie Joy

Boutique PR Companies Who Can Handle Your Press Releases

  1. Ballantines PR
  2. Abelow Public Relations
  3. Cascade Communications
  4. rbb Public Relations
  5. AMP3 Public Relations
  6. Allison Dawn PR
  7. K & Co. Media
  8. Push the Envelope
  9. Dukas Public Relations
  10. FireCracker PR

A Few Press Release Tools

There are many online tools meant to make the press release process easier. There are a number of services that will distribute your press releases, often to millions of potential reader. It’s worth noting, however, that these services rarely target specific recipients and may actually offer a lower ratio of articles written about press releases than if you were to send out your press release just to relevant recipients. Such services include PRWeb and PRLeap.

If you’re interested in learning more about writing your own press releases, there are also many resources that will help you learn the skill. Jennifer Mattern, one of the freelance press release writers listed above, has put together a free ebook that will introduce you to the process: Press Releases Made Easy.

Image credit: Franck-Boston / iStockphoto

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