Pile of newspapers filled with press releases

Make sure you get your press releases read with these simple tips

Running a small business is a 24 hour job.  It can be difficult to prioritise tasks and focus on the things on your to-do list that will bring the best results to the business.

But if you only do one new thing this month, send a press release to your local newspaper or trade journal.  And make sure you do it right.

Read on to see the common mistakes you should be avoiding to get your press release published:

Maybe you’ve got a great new product, or you’re holding a glamorous awards ceremony, or you have a great testimonial from a local celebrity…..

All good opportunities to get in the press, so you write your press release and email it to your local papers for publication but on checking the pages the following week, nothing.

Did they even read it?  Didn’t they appreciate the great hook in your email?

It’s not just about what you write any more – in our 24 hour multimedia world it’s also about how you communicate (who you send it to, when you send it, and in what format).

There are some common mistakes in trying to get press releases published that you can avoid:

1. One size fits all

No it doesn’t – meet the needs of the paper with your news – is it a human interest story, will it help sell their papers, will their readers care about the content?

Consider the audience and tweak your press release to them – you can use more technical language for a niche publication, go into more detail for a specialist gadget magazine.

But if you’re sending it to your local weekly paper, keep it light, focusing on the people involved and the benefits to the wider community.  Include quotes from locals and the staff.

Write your press release with the reader in mind so they’re intrigued by your headline and entertained by the story.

PR photograph showing women and magazines

Photo from PR Photography Manchester

2. Just send a Word document

Try and include a great photo as well as the words – sending a relevant and interesting photo could make the difference between getting printed and getting deleted.   There are some super blogs committed to taking great photos – take a look at them to get some amazing tips.  Then take the time to make sure your photo has something happening, something to captivate the audience.

Include people, take it from an unusual angle (from below or above), ensure the composition is right (no pot plants poking out the top of people’s heads).

Don’t send high resolution photos  as your email could crash the reader’s inbox which won’t do your PR any favours – reduce the size to around 600 pixel x 400 pixel and offer the journalist a larger image if they need one.

3. Send the email when you remember to do it

Time the delivery of your email at a time convenient to the recipient – add a read receipt so you can see when the journalist opens your email, and use this information to improve the timing of your emails.

The day before going to press isn’t the best time to get a reporter to read your article.  But the day after publication of a weekly paper is when they’re planning page layouts for the next week, so when your gripping story arrives in their in-box, it’s more likely to be considered for inclusion.

4.  Write like you did at school

No.  Writing a press release isn’t the same as writing an essay for your English literature exam.  Keep sentences concise, short and snappy.  Avoid overly flowery content and long words.  Keep focused on the readers and what will be of interest to them.  Think like a journalist, not a business owner.

5.  Focus on how great you are

Unfortunately people don’t really care all that much about your new product, or about the award your business has just received.  They care how it relates to them and if it helps solve their problems.

What is the newsworthy angle of your story?  Have you just had your 500th customer?  Has one of your customers found an unusual and interesting use for one of your products?  Are you holding an event to bring people into your business?  What makes it interesting to the community?

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6.  Tell your story on your terms

“Our revolutionary new McSquidget is shinier, faster and bigger than ever before.  It comes in five different colours, and is imported from Japan.”

Zzzzzz.

Is that a news story that would be published in a newspaper?  In that form, of course not.  You may be very excited about your new product range, but reporters don’t care and they aren’t there to help you sell it.  They’re there to gather topical news and share it with readers.

Increase your story’s likeability by linking in with a current events and big stories – the economy, the latest royal marriage (see left), the latest celeb court case.

So if you only do one thing this month, send a press release and start reaching new customers and building your reputation.

PS  Subscribe to marketing updates by entering your email address in the box on the left – you’ll receive an email when new content is published (including the press release template I’m publishing later this week, sent straight to your inbox).  Subscribe now to ensure you’re one of the first to receive any new content.