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Writing an effective press release

writing-press-releaseThe task of writing an effective press release is not rocket science.  Perhaps a better comparison would be watching water boil.  It takes not only an excellent piece of written news, but also a lot of patience to see any results.  This is not meant to discourage you, but rather to express that in reality the press release is just one part of an effective media campaign.  It is the first part of the campaign though, and without a strong press release your campaign will be dead in the water.

Before you begin the actual writing of your press release, take the time to make a list of contacts you plan to send the release to once its written.  Writing a press release that has interesting content geared toward the audience you are targeting is of utmost importance.  Plus, having this list set up ahead of time will give your a sense of accomplishment, as once you are done writing you can simply send it off rather than sitting on it for days while you accumulate leads to send it to.

First, take a peek at your competition.  See what other companies like yours are doing and see what press releases they have done are effective and what is not.  There is no point in repeating the mistakes of others.  Read their releases like you were the target audience, and see what you like and dislike about what you read.

Setting an obtainable and realistic goal is the second step.  Understand that it takes time to create an effective publicity campaign.  As a small business your goal with your campaign should be to promote awareness of your business.  Press releases that seem like sales pitches however will generate no response.  Think of interesting things to write about.  New clients, new capabilities, new employees, upcoming events and the like will generate more positive results than press releases that do not announce anything new.

The format of your press release is also important.  Your headline should be attention grabbing without being over the top.  The beginning of your press release should say “For Immediate Release” followed by your subject.  Grab your reader’s attention by putting the most important bits of information in the first paragraph.  The first paragraph should start with the date of the release and the location your business resides in. The second paragraph should include more details.  Your third paragraph should have a quote from you.  If possible, the fourth paragraph should include a quote from someone else, such as a client or industry expert about your business or news event.  Be sure you have this person’s permission before using their quote! Finish your press release with a small paragraph about your company and be sure to include contact information for further details.

Remember, the media you send your press release to is under no obligation whatsoever to publish or even acknowledge your email or fax.  It is in very poor taste to bother them to see if it was received, or hound them in any way to publish it.  If they have an interest and need more information they will contact you.