Create a Press Release for your Local Business
In the right context, a press release can be a powerful tool for bringing new attention to your business and can help you gain connections with local news outlets that bring more value over time. In the wrong context, they can make you look like a nuisance and make people more likely to ignore your future press releases.
Local businesses should definitely include press releases in their marketing plan, but you have to be careful about how you do so.
When to Use a Press Release
The main purpose of a press release is to alert journalists of something newsworthy so they might cover the news for their readers. Your audience here is different than the one you focus on for most of your marketing efforts. A piece of news your customers may be interested in, like a sale coming up, wouldn’t be something a reporter is likely to care about.
As with any type of marketing move, you need to think of your audience when considering a press release. Ask yourself if the news you’re announcing is actually the kind of thing you ever see covered in your local papers (remember to include business sections and papers in this – they’ll be one of your key targets for press releases). If you can honestly answer yes to that question, then it’s worth proceeding with a press release.
To give you an idea of the types of topics that usually make a good press release for local businesses, here are a few examples:
- A new product release
- Important hires (like a new CEO)
- Opening a new location
- Winning an award
- A charity drive
- Community partnerships
Once you’ve confirmed that your news is press release worthy, then get started working on the press release itself.
How to Craft a Press Release
You want your press release to make it as easy as possible for any journalist or reporter reading it to glean all the information they need, and know where to go next if they want more.
Start with a template, but make it your own.
Press releases often take on a standard format and that’s ok – it helps readers know where to look for the information they want. For that reason, it can be smart to start with a press release template that helps you get the structure right. Just make sure you update everything in the template to make it relevant to your own business and news.
Spend some real time on the headline.
For the most part, a press release headline isn’t a place to try to be catchy or clever. Your main focus should be clarity. You want anyone skimming to quickly be able to tell what the press release is about and decide if it’s relevant to them. That doesn’t mean your headline has to be dry and boring, but don’t sacrifice clarity in the name of trying to make it more interesting.
Something like Acme Launches Charity Drive to Help Pay for Local School Lunches would be better than How One Local Company Hopes to Help Students. The latter might fly on social media, but it’s too vague for a press release.
Don’t bury the lede.
Put the most important information right up top. Don’t make anyone read too far to learn what you have to say.
There are some types of content where saving the most important or interesting piece of information for last can make sense as a way to keep your audience reading or watching, but for press releases, you’re writing for busy journalists who make quick decisions about whether or not a story is a good fit for their publication and audience. You want to make it as easy as possible to find the information they need to make that decision.
Include a good quote or two.
Some reporters who choose to cover a story they see in a press release will reach out to get more information. Others will want to cover it based entirely on what’s included in the press release itself. To give them more to work with, have a couple of quotes from someone in your company that speak to the importance or value of the news you’re announcing.
Include your website and contact information.
For those who do want to collect more information, make it easy for them to know where to go next. Include your website, as well as information on how to get in touch if they have further questions.
How to Distribute a Press Release
Once your press release is written (and proofread), you need to work on getting it in front of people.
Use distribution platforms.
Distribution platforms like PRNewswire and PR.com can help you get your news in front of a wide audience fairly quickly. Submitting your press release to these platforms is pretty quick and easy, so it’s worth doing, but it’s not the most effective way to reach the people most likely to cover your story, so don’t stop there.
Reach out to local publications and journalists.
This is the most important step to getting the kind of coverage your press release is designed to encourage. Research local publications that may be interested in your news and try to identify the writers working there that most consistently cover similar topics. Then send your press release specifically to them.
This more targeted approach will ensure you get the attention of the right contacts – the ones who spend time actively looking for information like what you’ve included in your press release. If they like what they see, it can lead to a story about your business and be the beginning of a relationship you can continue into the future.
Promote on your own platforms.
Post it on your website and share it to your social network. If what you’re doing is newsworthy enough for the press, it’s probably something you want your customers and prospects to hear about as well, so promote away.
Should You Hire a PR Person?
It’s possible to craft and distribute press releases without the help of a PR professional, but someone who’s been working in the field for a while will possess certain skills and knowledge that can ensure your press release goes further faster and does more for your company.
They can save you the time and energy of having to learn to write a good press release from scratch. And most importantly, they probably already know some of the people you want to reach and how to frame your release just right to capture their interest.
If the news you’re sharing is important and you really want it to get the attention you feel it deserves, a PR consultant will likely be a worthwhile investment.
Press releases have been overused and abused by businesses in the past, but when you actually use them for their intended purposes, they can really pay off. When your business really does have something big and important to announce, use a press release to make sure everyone that needs to can hear about it.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.