When you want to get the word out quickly to as many people as possible, one of the best methods is to send news releases to the media. Commonly called press releases, editors scan through piles of them daily looking for news, unique stories and angles on subjects that interest their audience. Certain types of press releases are most likely to attract editors' attention.
Know the Types of Press Releases
To get publicity, it's essential that your announcement is truly news. Most press releases can be categorized into typical types of press releases that editors expect and look for:
Launch: Whether you have a new product, company, program or idea, announcing the launch of something new is ideal. Editors are looking for news, so be sure to put words like "new", "all-new", "revolutionary new", "never-before-seen" etc. in your headline and copy.
Drama: While capturing the drama, be sure to give all the details including what happened (such as a factory fire or heroic rescue), where (at your headquarters or in the field), when (date and time), results (injuries, loss or saving of life or property) and causes if known (faulty wiring, employee prevented catastrophe).
Expert available: An expert position press release establishes an individual's prominence in their field and announces their availability for speaking engagements, interviews, etc. Note the expert's degrees, experiences and what makes her unique.
Connection to news: Editors are always looking for local angles to national news. If your CEO is speaking at a well-known conference or an event that includes famous speakers, that's news in your town or industry. Another connection is timing to holidays like New Year's. Send press releases well in advance of holidays to allow time for articles to be written and published.
Events: If you're holding a book signing for your CEO and his new book, a conference with well-known speakers, or a fundraising event for a cause that's important to your company, employees or the community, all are worthy of press releases.
Staff changes: Staff changes, new hires and promotions may be given small blurbs in industry publications. A new CEO could be big news in your community, too, and a big name could be worth national news.
Follow Expected Press Release Structure
There's a standard structure of press releases editors expect so they know where to look for specific information. Skip one line between each part. Elements are left-justified unless otherwise stated.
Contact information: Put the contact's name/title, phone number and email address on three lines at the top of the release. Consider someone who can funnel requests to the right person depending on the question.
Release date: Most of the time it's "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE," but if you want the news to hit the day of launch, give a specific date, such as "FOR RELEASE ON OR AFTER May 16, 20__".
Headline: Craft an attention-grabbing headline that no one can pass up but that's also truthful. If you're announcing something unique or revolutionary, say so. Put the headline in larger type than the body copy and center it.
Optional subhead: Some releases include a second subhead, in smaller type, that gives more information.
Dateline: The city name should be written in all caps. Only include the state the news is coming from if needed for clarification, and finish with today's date. "MINNEAPOLIS - Aug. 4, 20" needs no state, but "PORTLAND, Maine - Aug. 4, 20" does.
Body copy: The standard beginning is "(COMPANY) today announced..." Give important details first so editors can quickly grasp the gist of your news. State who, what, when, where and why, including why readers will care. Use short paragraphs and keep to one page if possible. Include statistics and one or two quotes that writers could use in their articles.
Boilerplate: Craft a standard paragraph for all releases that sums up your company, i.e. "Magnetize is a fast-growing maker of toys that utilize magnets. Founded in 20, Magnetize has quickly become the leading manufacturer of magnetized toys in the world, with most recent sales topping $_."
Repeat contact info: End with contact information again: name, title, phone number and email.
Remember to Use SEO Keywords
Most press releases are sent electronically now, and businesses have an online presence, so it's important to use keywords that will help articles written using your release get maximum exposure through Search Engine Optimization (SEO). To determine the best keywords, think of the words and phrases your audience will use to search online for what you're offering. This helps your articles to come up near the top of results when people search online.
Barbara Bean-Mellinger is a freelance writer who lives in the Washington, D.C. area. She has written on business topics for afkinsider.com, smallbusiness.chron.com, Harbor Style Magazine, the Charlotte Sun and more, as well as advertising copy and materials. Barbara holds a B.S. from the University of Pittsburgh and has won numerous awards in B2B and B2C marketing.