How to write and distribute a press release

Having your name mentioned in relevant media outlets can have a great impact on your business, get you noticed and create a lot of positive buzz around your brand. When your business is small and unknown, it’s unlikely that journalists will be coming to you – instead, you will have to reach out to get noticed. It takes a lot of work to get a mention or have an article published, but it’s not impossible.

1. What’s the news?

Ask yourself this question before you get started. Is it really relevant news that you are about to announce or is it just about you promoting yourself. If your press release is not news-worthy, most journalists won’t even read it. So make sure your story is new and interesting to readers who never heard about your business.

2. Use news worthy titles

The title of your press release is the first thing the journalist will see. Make sure it’s not the last. Title your press release as a news story and use the title in the email subject that you are sending out to trigger their interest. If your press release is supported by research or data, mention it – research based stories are always more likely to get published.

3. Give it some structure

A press release that has a clear structure and is easy to read by journalists at first glance is more likely to be published than a release with one big block of text. Break it down into sections and use subheadings where possible.

4. Include quotes

Make your press release more personal by adding a quote from a relevant person – either from the business or one of your client’s. It will make the style of your press release more conversational and give it an additional voice.

5. Date your press release

Let the journalists know when the story is ready to be published. Your press release is likely to be linked to an event, so you need to make it clear if it’s for an immediate release or provide a date when the story is to be published.

6. Do your research

Before you start drafting your release, research the publications you are targeting.  The more you know about their style and readership, the more likely it is that your press release will resonate with the journalist. Read and follow their guidelines and you will maximise your chances to get published.

7. Create a press list

Put together a list of contacts that you are looking to contact. Effective PR is about building relationships so research who are the most relevant journalists and make your email personal to them. Keep your list updated as emails bounce back or you gain new contacts.

8. Send the copy in the body of the email

If you send the copy as an attachment, busy journalist might not open it.  It works much better if you insert your press release in the body of the email so they can glance through it quickly and if they are interested, they will open the attachment.

9. Use the journalist’s name

It’s rude not to if you are emailing a person. It’s a different story if your press release is being sent to a generic info address, but if you know who you are sending it to it’s only polite to use their name.

10. Monitor the coverage

Have a look if your release has been published yet, before you start chasing the journalists and asking when will it go live. It’s in your interest to monitor coverage, not the journalist’s so don’t assume they will let you know when your release gets published.

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