Press releases are what most people believe make or break their marketing efforts. With my marketing degree and decades of public-relations experience, I have learned that simply isnt true. But press releases do matter, so its important to do them correctly.
The most important part of a press release is the subject line of the email or the first line of whatever your recipients will see. In the days of snail mail, that was the words placed on the outside of the envelope. Many public relations agencies wouldnt have thought of typing or writing, Release: New Business: Concierge On Call on the outside of the envelope, but it was creative and outside the box. Besides, imagine the pleasure of a reporter who immediately knew what was inside. There was no guessing.
Here are tips to self-manage and self-market your next release in the digital age.
Write a subject line worth reading. Your email has got to stand out from 150 other emails clamoring for a reporters time. Tell the reporter the main subject of the release. If you want to be interesting, to add a layer of wow, do it in just a few words. Consider examples like these: 200 Employees Being Hired this Year, Product Teaches Dogs New Trick: Audio Leash for Kids, Pen Talks Back: LiveScribe records and replays for business.
Provide contact numbers or email addresses where questions will be answered. Questions come more frequently than you think. Reporters are on deadlines, and calling a contact only to be sent to voicemail moves you to the annoying file.
Avoid being a mystery. I cant tell you how many times I listen to business owners say, If I dont tell the reporter, theyll call to inquire. As the town crier, I am the bearer of the bad news: Not telling is interesting only to those who love you, not to reporters. Reading releases is not their main job. Writing stories is. Tell your story as soon as you can.
Tell your story in the top half of the release. If you tear the release in half, or tear off just the bottom third, is the meat of the information still present? In truth, the bottom half is relevant if the reporter is interested in the story, but everything they most want to know should be in the top portion.
Include the details in this order: what, why, who, how, when and where. Nearly all my release information has been published because I talk about the what: the product, the service, the results or the outcome. Often were misled into putting the company name or the persons name first. Its irrelevant until the reporter is interested. One caveat: A name becomes relevant when its a high-level official, a well-known company or officer, a government agency or a celebrity.
Keep the release to one page. Yes, long releases can and do still get read, and public-relations companies write them. But limiting the length in most cases increases your chances.
Use attachments as enhancements, not as the sole releases. Drop your release into the body of the email, and then attach the file and maybe even a jpg image of you or the product.
Karleen Andresen, publisher of the Idaho Womens Journal, marketer and speaker. KarleenAndresen@gmail.com