If you operate a small business online, press releases will build brand awareness and drive visitors to your website. Advertising will produce the same results, but there the added prestige of having a third-party report your news. Writing a press release isn’t a skill most small business owners have, but it isn’t difficult. If you want coverage:
Make Sure You Have a Newsworthy Topic
Newsworthy topics include:
- An interesting new product lines or new services
- Starting an affiliate program
- Your company’s charitable event or contribution
- Receiving an industry award
- Establishing a scholarship or mentorship program
- Results from an industry study you commissioned
Even if you have news included above, ask yourself if anyone besides your employees will care. If the public wouldn’t be interested, neither will a journalist.
Follow the Who, What, Where, When and Why Format
Your first sentence should include as many of the five Ws as possible as journalists and editors look for the first sentence of a press release to be a summary of your news. They will not read the entire press release to find the answers to these important questions. An example is Company Z announces a new affiliate program on our website beginning today so our fans can earn a commission by referring customers.
Write an Intriguing Headline
Journalists scan their inboxes every day, looking for news that would interest their readers. Indicate you’re sending a press release in the subject line and include your title. Imagine your local news is on and going to a commercial break. Think about what you would like the announcer to say to intrigue viewers and use this as your headline.
Format your press release properly. The top left should include the words press release and for immediate release underneath it. Include your contact information in the upper right corner. Next comes your centered title, and an italicized subheading if you feel one is necessary. Next comes the press release itself with the date and your location at the beginning. At the bottom, you can briefly describe your small business in a separate section at the bottom called about your business name. Include links to up to two images or audio clips so journalists can include them if they choose, but you don’t want to overload their inbox.
Write in an active voice and don’t use any unnecessary or wordy phrases. Be concise so you can keep your press release at 200 to 300 words. Use AP style so news outlets can use the press release as is. Don’t use the press release to market your small business; you’re reporting the news. If you’re introducing a new product or service, avoid grandiose adjectives. Use a spelling and grammar checker to ensure there are no errors.
Use one to two quotes in your press release. Always include the person’s full name and title and company, even if they work at your small business, the first time you mention the speaker. Journalists like quotes as it makes a press release sound like an interview.
Finally, don’t get discouraged if you don’t get immediate press coverage. Journalists receive hundreds of press releases every day.