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    PR 101: The Press Release

    Written by Laura Rooney on July 18, 2019

    essential components of business press releaseThere comes a time where you will be tasked with creating a press release. If you have done one before, great! If not, then this blog is for you.

    What Is a Press Release?

    A press release is a formal way to relay specific information about an event, announcement, or other happening. They’re appropriate for businesses large and small and across all industries, making it a must-have in any marketing arsenal.

    Before the web, businesses had to type up their press releases and put them on the newswire or contact journalists directly who may or may not publish it. Luckily, the modern process is a little more reliable when it comes to ensuring your announcement is published.

    Why Should My Business Send Press Releases?

    Press releases are considered a part of a strong SEO strategy that helps investors, customers, employees, and other targeted groups stay up to date on the latest company news. But they do more than just relay the news.

    A few objectives that a press release can help you achieve include:

    • Obtaining additional coverage. Depending on how “newsworthy” your content is, a journalist can come across your press release and request additional information for an article they could be Writing on a topic in which your company would be considered an expert.
    • Expanding your brand reputation. Perhaps you're launching a new software feature or you’re rebranding your website. Whatever the case, a press release is a great way to get your audience familiar with your brand again while getting in front of a new audience.
    • Managing a crisis in which your company is involved. In an ideal world, everything would run smoothly. Unfortunately, those who manage a brand's image know things just don’t happen that way. Sending out a press release when something goes wrong is a great way to take control of the narrative and get in front of the story.
    • Enhancing your backlinking strategy. Press releases are a great way to boost your domain rating, especially if it's picked up by reputable sources. More on link building here.
    • Good ol’ marketing. Aside from all the other benefits just mentioned, a well-written press release is a sure-fire way to garner media attention and market your business. But to make it a success, your content has to be “newsworthy.”

    When to Send out a Press Release

    If you’ve been following along, you may have noticed that we keep emphasizing that your content has to be newsworthy. And we can’t stress this enough. We often get clients who get so excited from the initial uplift in website traffic that they want to drop all of their current marketing tactics and focus on publishing press releases.

    But taking this approach is certain to get you nowhere fast. While the added boost in traffic is great, it means nothing if your newly minted visitors aren’t converting. So, when is it appropriate to send out a press release?

    Here are some examples:

    • Launching a new brand
    • Introducing a new product
    • An event where your company is sharing timely and insightful information
    • Publishing research with unique and original data-points and insights
    • Award announcements
    • Managing a crisis your company is involved in
    • Partnership announcements that will impact your industry
    • Announcing the addition of a well-known executive to your leadership team/structure

    There’s a few more reasons that we’ve left out, but if you’re interested in more, check out this curated list by Entrepreneur

    How to Write a Press Release

    Now that you know when to send a press release, it’s time to get started writing one. Here are the essential pieces that make up the press release puzzle:

    Step One: Write a Killer Headline

    Given that we live in an information-saturated environment, you want to make sure you that your headline commands attention. Use action verbs and precise, understandable words that clearly focuses on your message.

    Step Two: Create an Attention Grabbing First Paragraph

    Since you only have so much time to leave your mark, make sure that you include the most important information (who, what, where, when, and why) in your first paragraph – a.k.a "the lead."

    Step Three: Keep It Short and to the Point

    Most press releases max out around one page long (approximately 400 words). The point is to provide enough information to convey the importance, but not so much that it’s embellished. Remember, press releases live in infamy in the digital age – DO NOT PUBLISH THINGS THAT ARE NOT TRUE.  Just make sure to include valuable background information without too much fluff.

    Step Four: Add a Quote

    Since journalists will be looking at your press release, you’ll want to make sure to provide them with a quote that they can use. A statement on the topic adds value, so don’t leave it out (pro tip: write one up and get it approved by the person you're attributing the quote). It also enlivens your piece by breaking it up and adding a face to your release.

    Step Five: The Boilerplate

    A boilerplate is a standard “about us” section that lets the reader know about your company.  It also includes links back to your website in case the reader wants to take a deeper dive. 

     

    Where Do You Publish a Press Release?

    With your press release in hand, you’re probably wondering where you go to share it. In most situations, you’ll be requested to publish your press release with a distribution service like PR Newswire, Cision, or Business Wire. These services have a tiered pricing model depending on the level of reach and impact you want with your press release.

    Before you decide to do so, however, it’s important to bear in mind if the cost outweighs the perceived value you will get. The way you make that decision is by determining the “newsworthiness” of the content you’re putting out there.

    Some news, such as simply attending an event, is not “newsworthy” enough to send out a formal press release. In fact, you’re probably better off saving your money and just publishing it on your website. To extend the reach, incorporate it as part of your social media strategy and share it on your social accounts.

    If, however, your company is publishing information that is newsworthy (like sharing unique research at a conference, for example) then looking into the different pricing models and sharing it via a press release distribution service is the way to go.

    Another option is to personally e-mail a journalist who writes about your industry. It helps to start with a list of writers and journalists. If your industry is FinTech, it won't help to send your press release to the Lifestyles writer.

    Once you have your list, do your homework. Look into what topics they've covered recently and try to find a connection. If they're tweeting all day, send a direct message before you send the email. Write a detailed summary for them while you're at it. The easier you make it for them, the better your chance of being published.

    What a Press Release is NOT

    As mentioned before, press releases are considered a part of a strong SEO strategy. But it should not be considered a marketing tool in and of itself. You shouldn’t expect to generate leads with your press release and you should not create one for every little thing your company is doing.  You can, however, expect to see an increase in brand awareness and market reach.

    Press releases are respected across the board, and it’s more than a way to earn a spot in the news. It’s a valuable piece of marketing content. So what are you waiting for? Grab a coffee, sit down, and get started on your first release.

     

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    Topics: Public Relations

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