Friday, November 11, 2005

How to Write a Press Release: Part III

Using What You’ve Got

Once you’ve written your press release, there are several things you can do to make it work overtime for you.

Before you send it out, make sure you proofread it thoroughly. Pay special attention to any dates, names, or places you mention. Be sure your contact information is correct. (This, of course, should go without saying. But there – I said it.)

Of course, you’ll send the press release to all the local newspapers. If you don’t know which editor to address it to, get online and page through the contact information posted on the paper’s website. Then send it via e-mail to the appropriate editor.

Do not send the press release as an attachment! Copy it and paste it in the body of your e-mail. This holds true when sending any unexpected document anywhere electronically. It’s just too much to ask someone who doesn’t know you to trust you enough to open an attachment.

Then, get creative. Think about who else might be interested in your news. Places that are appropriate recipients of your press release include:

• Your local Chamber of Commerce,

• Any professional organization to which you belong – especially those with regular newsletters,

• Trade magazines within your profession, or to which you subscribe,

• Electronic newsletters with a suitable audience,

• Your hometown newspaper (be sure to tweak the release to mention your connection with the town in the first paragraph),

• The alumni newsletter of your college or university (again, tweak the release to include your graduation information),

• Local AM and FM radio stations (depending on the magnitude of your news, and the current events vying for air time), and

• Local television networks and news stations.

You may wish to create a “Media Information” page on your website, complete with downloadable bio, photos, and other pertinent information about you or your business. If you do, a current press release is a worthy addition to the page. Just make sure that it doesn’t become outdated. Remove or replace it after a month or so.

See? It’s easy. Unfortunately, too few people understand the potential power in press releases. They think that they have to write a lengthy, brilliant piece of prose to warrant getting any press. But then too much time passes before they get around to creating a feature article masterpiece, and no one ever learns of their success.

Writing the article is not your job. That’s the reporter’s job. All you have to do is make his or her work easier by supplying timely, interesting information in a clean, clear, easily usable way. Do that, and you will have tapped into the power of the press.