Public Relations – What Is a Press Release?

When it comes to marketing, small business owners often overlook one of the most effective tools available – a press release. If you’ve never considered writing one before, perhaps now is the now to investigate this communication strategy.

What is a press release?

A press release is a written announcement submitted to media outlets as a means of letting your various “publics” know of news relating to your business or organization. Your publics are your target audience – customers, employees, investors.

It is sometimes called a “media release” or a “news release,” but those are just different names for the same thing. A news release is not the same as advertising. What differentiates it from advertising is that a press release is used to garner free publicity while advertising is fee based. With that in mind, you should only use one for truly newsworthy events. These may include personnel promotions, awards, or new products/services, among others.

Writing

Writing one is a very simple process; you simply write it in a news article format – explaining the بيت العلم “who, when, what, how, and why.” Your release will also need a news “angle” or “hook” – in other words, why is it newsworthy? You may also want to include a quote from a company representative relating to the news item. Be sure to include contact information regarding your company; make it easy for anyone wanting more information to contact you. Print your release on your organization’s letterhead to make it more professional-looking.

Formatting

What follows is the standard format:

Release Date – include the date your want the information to be published. You may chose immediately or have a later date.

Headline – write a headline to capture your target markets’ attention. This is similar to a news article headline. Do not use all caps as this is difficult to read.

Summary paragraph – write a short summary paragraph explaining your information in one or two sentences.

Body of the press release – may be two or more paragraphs with the newsworthy information. Include a paragraph about your company/organization, explaining its function or brief history. You may want to include a quote regarding the news story. At a maximum, the press release may be up to two pages.

Ending symbols – Use a triple pound (###) symbol or the word “End” at the bottom of your press release to indicate that it is finished.

Tags – a relatively new feature of the modern press release is to include possible tags for your news story. This is particularly helpful if you plan on submitting your press release to online distribution services.

Distribution

Once it has been edited and proofread, it is ready for distribution. You will want to consider who your target markets are and what are the best media outlets to reach them. You would not want to send a release about a new video game to a motorcycle enthusiast’s magazine!

There are several ways to distribute your information, these include “snail mail,” email and press release submission web sites. The latter may be free or paid; you may find that the paid distribution will get your information out to more media outlets and in faster time.

The more well-crafted the press release, the more likely it will be published. Editors like it when well-written press releases make their jobs easier. Maybe a reporter may even use it for a feature story idea.

Bonnie Messick is a freelance writer specializing in business communications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, with a public relations writing specialty as well as an Associate’s in Accounting. She enjoys work using both her creative and business skills and understands the importance of both in the business world. She has worked in such industries as logistics, advertising and education. Past positions include: accountant, traffic coordinator and public relations writer. Most recently, she has been writing freelance for Examiner.com and Ehow.com. In her spare time, she likes reading, hiking, camping and going to the beach with her family.

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