Public Relations: The Press Release

The press release has long been the cornerstone of public relations. It’s how you get your news out to the media, your business community and your web community.  A well-written release can morph to serve a variety of channels and audiences.

There are more news outlets, more niches, and more accessibility and more resources than ever before. And most news outlets have fewer in-house content writers, so they are more willing then ever to use outside content. It’s a great time to do some public relations campaigning to grow your business.

Who are you trying to reach? Think of this question in terms of who your customers are now, untapped potential markets and geography.

Define your goals. First instinct says that the goal is to get your name in the paper and get a little “free” advertising. But beyond that, what are you hoping to gain? Name recognition, sales, website traffic? Defining your goals will have a domino effect on all other aspects of your PR efforts. Having several different goals can mean several different efforts timed throughout the year.

Create a media list. Targeted publications, chambers of commerce, professional organizations, industry newsletters, local blogs – the possibilities go far beyond the local paper and TV station.

Create a schedule. Look at your events, seasonal trends, busiest times and down times and create a timeline. Consider the editorial calendars of the publications on your media list. Monthly magazines may want content 60 – 90 days before publication. Weekly tabloids, daily publications and online sites will have more flexibility.

Include the facts. You would be surprised how many press releases don’t include the basic what, where, when, cost, contact number, website. For a product, list the name, where it is available, MSRP, and a brief description of 100 words or less. Creating a bulleted list of this information will keep anything from falling through the cracks and make it easier for publications to find the info they need.

Do offer content and context. A little history, a concise example or two, some fun facts – any details you can provide will make your release more appealing. If you have numbers – how many people, hamburgers, dogs, miles, dollars, pogo sticks – they can go a long way toward painting a picture for your potential publishers.

Include a high-res photo. If you have a 300 dpi photo to go with your press release, it will work for web or print. Including art increases your chances of having your press release see the light of day in print or on the web. Photos are also important for social media such as Facebook and Pinterest.

Be excited about your own subject. Share your enthusiasm. If all you can tell someone are the dates and times of an event, that event is boring. If you don’t have something meaningful to say about your product or service, maybe it isn’t worth a PR campaign.

Follow through. If your press release cuts through the clutter and catches someone’s eye, work with them. Don't make editors and reporters chase you down, dig for basic facts and browbeat you to get a usable quote. There is always an easier story just waiting to take your place.

Track your results. Who picked up your release and how did they use it? How many people did that coverage potentially reach? Call a couple of outlets you thought were sure bets that didn’t pan out and ask them if they got the information and if so, how you can make it more usable for them.

Scratch backs. Send out some thank you notes to the folks who picked up your information and link to their coverage on your site, blog and social media. They give you coverage; you send them some traffic.

Leverage your content. A well-written press release can be tweaked to become a part of your own newsletter, blog, website and social media efforts.


If you need help with a single press release, planning a campaign or an annual schedule, contact Duncan McCall. We’ll get to know you and help you develop the public relations plan you need to reach your goals.



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