Reporters do not care about your business.
OK. That may sound harsh, but it’s the truth. Reporters are thirsty for a great story. They want to use their skills to promote news that can change people’s lives. Nobody goes into the journalism business looking to highlight the new addition to your lunch menu! That’s why you need to connect your product or service to something newsworthy.
Before we get into the importance of making your press release worth reading, you have to know how to correctly format it. If the formatting is off, the first set of educated eyes that land on it, will file that bad boy in the trash.
The first step is to conduct a little research. Take a look at the front page of today’s paper. Then search for hot news on Google. Find an article in which you can link your product or service to that story.
For example, say your business sells a natural weight loss supplement, and the hot article in today’s paper is all about the importance of losing weight safely. This particular article contains examples of celebrity diet tactics. Everyone loves a good celeb gossip story! Now search within the context for someone mentioning the use of supplements. It’s even better if the supplement they are using is offered in your store.
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Next, think of an amazing headline. Other than the formatting, reporters are immediately looking for headlines which draw in a reader’s attention like a car accident. Your headline needs to sum up the subject of the release, but also leaves a little bit of mystery.
Once you have a solid headline, now you start working on the format.
Here’s an example taken from WikiHow.com.
Obviously your content will be more engaging, but this format is acceptable.
When you begin writing the body of your release, be sure to send your inner salesman on vacation. A reporter is not looking to buy your product. You are selling them on your story! They don’t want to read about your awesome customer service, money back guarantee, or fancy online checkout process. They want to learn how the featured celebrity lost 20 pounds safely! That’s what you promised the reader, so you better make good on your promise. The old “bait and switch” tactic no longer works. Describe in detail the health risks associated with rapid weight loss, and highlight the dangers of using various drugs to speed up the process. Include industry leading studies, results, and add messages like the following:
“healthy weight loss is always a result of a well planned diet and exercise.”
Throw in a couple of celebrity quotes derived from the national story you yanked from the paper. Always be sure to give credit back to the originating article.
“As reported in…..”
Most reporters will only read the first paragraph of the release. For that reason, you must answer the who, what, when, where and the how of the story in the first paragraph. Have a few friends read the first paragraph only. If they can accurately define the objective of the release, you are in good shape.
The final paragraph is referred to as the boilerplate. The boilerplate statement consists of only a few sentences which describe your company and mission. Include the year you were founded, what you offer, and your passion for doing business.
Be sure to write in the third person. Keeping your release authored from the journalist’s perspective makes it easy for the actual journalist to translate your ideas into his or her own words. If your release leaks over to two pages, you’re still safe, but don’t let it go any longer than that. The best release is limited to one page. Be respectful of the reporter’s time! They’ll appreciate the gesture.
Now all you have to do is submit it. If you call your local paper, they should provide you with an email address where you can send your release. If you are sending it as an attachment, I strongly suggest emailing it to yourself first. Open the document in a new window, and check to see if the formatting remained the same. Sometimes documents sent through email get messed up.
Be persistent! Like all professionals, reporters are busy. They may glance over your release, enjoy the content, and then get sidetracked. If you don’t hear anything after a few weeks, resubmit it. Keep that up only as long as your story is relevant. Once the media turns their heads toward a different subject matter, your release may become obsolete. If that’s the case, repeat the entire process, and find a new story that compliments your business.
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Press releases are still a great way to build brand awareness! But they will only work if you create some newsworthy buzz. Don’t play it safe.
Be edgy, and get noticed!
If you are struggling with time and want to pay someone to author a release for you, please give Andy a call at 815.441.2219. We have an awesome blend of pros looking to take on any project…and the formatting will be correct! All you have to do is hit SEND.
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photo credit: Mike Bailey-Gates via photopin cc