As a small business owner, one of the challenges you face is making your business known to the media, prospective clients or the general public. Small businesses don’t often have a large budget to invest in promotion and marketing, but this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy high visibility in the media. One of the most effective PR tools to advertise your business is the press release.
When should you write a press release?
You can write a general press release about your products/services or when you have something newsworthy to communicate (important events within the company, launches of products and services, leadership changes etc). The best thing about press releases is that you can write them yourself following some simple guidelines…
It’s all about structure!
The headline briefly states what the press release is about and should be a maximum of 12 words. The headline of the press release should be relevant, attractive and reader optimised for search engines. It is essential to include the main idea of the text. As most press releases are sent via mail, also be careful with the subject line. It may be the same as the headline or, if not, it should at least be as relevant.
The lead (or the introductory paragraph) develops the headline and summarises the press release. It should answer the Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? The lead plays a very important role, because it briefly informs the reader by summarising the content of the release.
The body contains the main points of the release, that is, the information you want to get across.
At the end of the press release, include one or two paragraphs describing the company and the contact details. Contact details include the company’s official name, contact person, office address, telephone number, email address and official website of the company.
Be careful with your style & language!
Use short sentences and paragraphs because complicated phrases can make the text unreadable (or uninteresting!). Each sentence should contain new information. Avoid jargon, abbreviations and ambiguous acronyms. Also, don’t use technical language unless you're pitching to a technical publication.
The content of the press release should be written like any other professional document available to the public. Therefore, you should avoid strange fonts, animations or inappropriate language.
Do not turn the text into an advertisement. One of the basic rules of a press release is objectivity and 'newsworthiness'. Avoid using superlatives, self-praise and repeatedly mentioning the company’s name. Stick to the facts and make sure your release doesn't just sound like an advertisement.
Know your recipients
The content of a press release depends largely on who you are targeting. Make sure you don’t randomly send it out. A well thought out pitch list of just a few publications is much better than sending to a cast of thousands. Also, when you distribute the release via email, remember all recipients should be switched from TO to BCC to protect the privacy of everyone's email address.
Make sure the text of the press release is formatted properly. Do not include unnecessary formatting within the press release, such as borders, fancy colours or images (you can always add a relevant photograph as an attachment).
Keep it short!
Ideally, a press release should not exceed one A4 page – if the text exceeds that, revise it and eliminate unnecessary information.
Keep these final tips in mind when working on a press release for your business:
Mention your company’s name in the headline and lead, if possible. It will increase visibility in search engines.
Avoid sending press releases too frequently. Generally, it is better to send one, or maximum two, per month.
Choose simple words and clear language.
Make sure you don’t have spelling mistakes
Don’t send it to a visible distribution list (remember BCC if emailing)
Last, but not least, if you think you can’t do it on your own, reach out to a specialised PR Agency such as Wordsworkers.com
PS We will be adding some great templates and ‘cheat sheets’ to the website over the coming months. So you don’t miss out, click here to join our mailing list.