A press release is the way your business communicates with the public. Creating and distributing effective press releases is a key part to any business’ visibility and marketing campaign. Whether you are a software company announcing a move to a new office space or a pub announcing the offering of a new sandwich, writing and distributing an effective press release lets people know what’s happening.
I spent 20 years as a public relations executive with Prudential Financial, Inc. where I oversaw the preparation and distribution of thousands of press releases. Now as a small business owner, I use them to get the word out about our travel blogs and websites.
Traditionally, press releases were sent to radio and television stations, daily newspapers, magazines and other print media in hope of generating an interview or other editorial content about the subject.. While this remains a key goal, the Internet has created a new purpose, where the press release becomes searchable content and is reprinted by various related sites. For this SEO (search engine optimization) purpose, the better your release is written, the more sites will pick it up, which is the goal. The more sites pick up the release, the more links are created back to your site, which is ranked highly by Google when considering search results.
There are many reasons to issue a press release. A company may have a new product or service they are offering. A store may open a new location, hire a new employee or begin carrying a new line of products. Any news or developments should be shared with the public. I will add that a good publicist with professional contacts and knowledge is essential to getting visibility for your business. However if you can’t afford it, there are ways you can create and distribute your own professional press releases.
Here are the key elements every effective press release should include:
Who is the company or person releasing the information. Who can people or journalists contact if they want more information?
What is the purpose for the press release, what is the event that is happening, what is the product or service being introduced? Be clear in your message and what action you want people to take. Visit the store, buy the product, visit the website.
Where is the event or business located? Where is the physical location or website information?
Why is the event happening? Why is the new product being released or the new branch office being opened?
When is the event happening? When is the new product going to be available?
After you have crafted an effective press release, the next step is to distribute it to the public and to journalists. Distribution may be as simple as posting the release on your website. If you are a large organization or a well-known brand, this may be all you need as news outlets will pick it up from there. If not, you need to send the release out. If it’s a local event or news item, seek out the local media, and email or fax the release to local television stations and newspapers. Most news outlets and websites will have press release information on their website as to where and how to submit news to them.
Paid distribution is a another option, where you submit the release to a company who has a database of editors, websites and journalists. Services like PRNewswire (prnewswire.com) and Businesswire (businesswire.com) are the two biggest. These services do not come cheap, but are well respected and offer deep distribution in various industries and regions. Releasing a single news release through one of these large services, in a single area or business, starts at about $500.
There are many free press release distribution sites, we have used 24-7pressrelease.com and theopenpress.com with good results. They are most helpful with Internet links and SEO however, not securing editorial content with journalists.