We can all use all the tips we can get our hands on when it comes to press releases. It’s really important for small businesses to get the word out in local papers, but what’s the best way to do it and how can we stop our press releases going in the bin?
Last year I took part in some press release training run by NKTS (North Kent Training Services). I found it extremely valuable and once I knew the tricks of the trade my press releases started working. The Right Step ended up in the Medway Messenger at least every other week. It was fantastic until I ran out of time and stopped writing them.
Fast forward to this year and Medway Dance Network (MDN) hosted a meeting with a talk from Emma Dewhurst, editor of WOW Kent Magazine. She gave us insight into what she likes to receive in a press release. Some things were different to those mentioned in the NKTS training, just personal preference, but there were many useful things running through both.
Heres are the top tips that came from both. Useful and realistic things that I hope will help.
Send your press release within your email and also attached to it. Then post a copy on colourful paper too. Different people like to receive press releases in different ways and this covers the lot!
If you’re not sure what to write, this basic structure should help.
Press Release Number: Just in case you need a reference
First Sentence: This is NOT a headline, but do write it in bold. This should be a descriptive sentence that includes key words about things readers will want to read about. Some of the buzz words we use are community, school, older adults, arts.
Main story: Keep it factual and concise. Remember, they may copy it word for word so be careful about how you are writing.
Quotes: Always include something, even if it’s you saying it.
Photographs: At least one landscape and one portrait, don’t crop because they can do that and they have to be good quality (very few mobile phone cameras are good enough). Put them into your word document and attach them to your email.
Further Information: Say if theirs an opportunity for one of their photographers to visit and mention who they can contact for more information.
Facts: Provide some extra facts about your company such as started in… Or proudest moment. These might be printed next to your article or they might use them for something else at a later date.
The Personal Touch
Know who you are sending your press release to and name them in your email. If they recently printed an article from your press release thank them. They will be pleased you have read it and appreciate what they’ve done.
The Right Step usually has what some people might call fluff stories. Things the paper uses to fill the gaps between exclusive and big news. There’s nothing wrong with that, sometimes the community news is much nicer to read! It does give us a hint on when to send our press releases though. Our local paper, The Medway Messenger goes out on a Friday. This means I send press releases on a Friday. They’ve already finished the paper for that week and they are probably looking for fluff stories to full the paper before the big news comes in.
What shall I write?
I can’t tell you that exactly, but I do have a few dos and don’ts!
Don’t write the headline, that’s their job
Do be clear and concise
Try not to be biased, do be factual
Do give your press release a focus and try to think about what people are interested in.
Do check your press release for spelling and grammar mistakes
Most importantly though, you have to send something! If you don’t then, like me, your stories will stop being in the paper at all!
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