As a business owner, one way to promote your product or service is by earning favorable press coverage.
Traditionally, media outlets you could approach were limited to printed publications, television, and radio. But nowadays, you could also try getting coverage in digital media – such as industry blogs, podcasts, or web series.
This type of promotion – known as public relations or media relations – is far more effective than purchasing advertising because you gain automatic credibility and integrity by virtue of having a reporter cover you, as opposed to you paying for the publicity.
A press release is at the heart of every successful public relations campaign.
A press release is a short article that you, a business owner, would send to a media outlet with the goal of getting them to publish a story about your product or service.
While the actual writing of the release is important, what happens before and after you send out a press release are just as important – perhaps even more so.
Here are some important steps to creating and sending a press release…
Know which publication or media outlet you want to get into
Be selective and focus your efforts on publications or media outlets that have followings that are in alignment with your brand’s target audience.
In other words, do not waste your time and resources trying to get into every media outlet. Pick the ones that are right for you.
By all means, aim high and try to get into the bigger and more popular media platforms, but also be prepared with a second tier of smaller media outlets that you might have a better chance of getting into.
Know the contact at the publication or media outlet
Whenever possible, get in contact with a real person at the media outlet you are approaching.
This will likely be an editor or head writer.
Be aware that an editor will likely get barraged with story ideas from people with ulterior motives of trying to sell or promote something. For this reason, many editors might be quite jaded and fed-up with companies trying to sell their products and services at the expense of their journalistic integrity.
To get around this hurdle, be of value to the editor, and emphasize that you want to forge a mutually beneficial relationship.
Ideally, you would network with editors, bloggers, writers, and producers before you need to ask them to cover your story.
In any case, be respectful of their time and ask how you can make their job easier. Often times, a media outlet will make this information very public. They will happily tell you what kind of stories they are looking for, what kind of word count is required, and what topics they are looking to cover.
In some cases, they might even publish their content schedule on their website, which gives you advance notice of what type of stories they’re looking for down the road.
Do some research and make use of this valuable information. This shows initiative and the media outlets will respect you for respecting their time and needs.
Tailor the press release to suit the needs of the publication or media outlet
We’ve finally come to the part where you have to write the actual press release.
Each media outlet will have different needs, a different audience, and a different workflow. Therefore, be fully prepared to tailor your press release for each and every media outlet you reach out to.
Above all, when it comes to writing your press release, make sure you have a story, NOT a sales pitch.
Be concise. Open with a catchy headline and an intriguing first paragraph. Get to the heart of your story immediately.
One page is usually long enough for a press release. If your story is extremely compelling, you might run on for two pages, but you will likely get better results by being short and to the point. If the editor wants to delve deeper into the story, they can always contact you. The purpose of the press release is to convince them to run your story, not necessarily tell them the whole story up front.
Build up your story by including statistics, numbers, interviews, and cold hard facts – these will give your story credibility.
Write in an easy-flowing, conversational tone. Adopt the same style as the media outlet you are approaching, so they can envision your story as something they would share.
Keep your paragraphs short so that anyone can easily skim through your press release and get to the heart of it quickly.
Remember the audience. Keep your story relevant to them at all times. Always ask yourself, “Why would they find this story interesting?”
Include all your contact information. Make it painstakingly easy for them to find you.
Create a press kit with support materials
Once someone shows interest in your press release, be prepared to immediately send them a press kit with supporting materials.
A press kit can include anything that will help the media outlet share their story about you.
A press kit can include background information, quality photographs, biographies, company information, video footage, and product information. The key here is to keep everything relevant: do not overwhelm the publication with extraneous materials.
It’s very possible that someone might be interested in your story, but the story angle you’ve proposed might not be appropriate for them. In this case, be flexible and prepared with alternative ways to spin your story.
Remember that when it comes to public relations and media relations, you are in this for the long haul.
You might approach a certain media outlet and not get any interest with your first story. That’s okay. Don’t just abandon your contact. Stay in touch and nurture the relationship for something else down the road.
Public relations and media relations is just like any kind of business networking practice, where you have to start small, offer value, build trust, and then and only then can you start asking for something in return.
Always focus on building a meaningful, long-term professional relationship above anything else.
Writing a press release is at the center of a great public relations campaign, but what you do before and after sending your press release is just as important. Be selective about which media outlets you want to approach, strive to make long-term and meaningful relationships with real people at the media outlets you approach, tailor your press release for each media outlet, and provide relevant support materials in a press kit. Above all, follow up and nurture the relationships you make with various media outlets.
Need help promoting your brand? Contact Kim Speed at Purple Moon Creative, Brand and Marketing Boutique today!