When it comes to getting your business name out there, good PR is a trick you can’t afford to miss. And one of the most effective tools to communicate your message is through the good old-fashioned press release.
As a small business owner its important you get your name out there as quickly (and cheaply!) as possible. So, we’ve rounded up the steps to not only creating the perfect press release, but also the inside scoop on how to get great coverage in the press.
Here’s how to send a press release in five simple steps…
1) Deciding on your topic
First things first, you need to decide on the topic you want to communicate. Perhaps as a new business you want to tell perspective customers that you’re open for business. Or maybe you’ve been involved in an innovative new project you want to shout about.
Whatever your topic, make sure its relevant. That’s both to journalists and to their audience. Think of the journalist as the gatekeeper – you need to get your story past them first! Tell them a story which will be interesting to them. Otherwise you risk wasting your time – a precious commodity in the first year of business – and souring your relationship with busy journalists.
Ask yourself: does this news story add value to the reader? Does it tell them an important piece of information, or inform a point of interest? Or does your press release tie in to a topical story (this is PR gold!).
Top tip: In some cases, you might not even need to produce a press release. Are you an expert in your field? Have latest statistics, or a breaking news story in your industry just landed? Then your voice could be in demand. Producing a quick, snappy comment to send to a journalist could save you loads of time.
2) Writing your content
As the saying goes, content is king. The aim is to make your press release match ready to hit the printers. Make life as easy as possible for journalists and you will be their new best friend.
You’ll need a catchy title, an informative and succinct sub-heading, and a strong body of text. Let them know exactly what your story is as soon as it hits their desk.
Top tip: check you’ve included the 5 w’s. Does your release answer who, what, when, where, why and how?
And remember your voice. You’re not writing as yourself, or even as your business. You’re writing with your journalist cap on. Don’t say “We opened our doors in 2018 because I saw a gap in the market”. Instead, try “[business name] opened its doors in 2018 to offer a bespoke service unique to the market”.
Including a quote from your key spokesperson will introduce a variety of voice to the news story. And of course, the chance to add your own personal slant. If you can secure a quote from a third party, even better. Think of this like a celebrity endorsement – PR is all about getting other people to say you’re good!
The final point to remember is that one size doesn’t always fit all. Consider writing a couple of versions of your press release, tailoring the title and sub-heading accordingly. Make the journalist feel a bit special! The best way of doing this is adding a regional, or local slant. Or consider tailoring it to a specific industry. This will make sure that your release is directly relevant to the publication.
3) Creating your press list
You’ve got your press release, now you just need a target press list. Think of this like a wish list of the publications you’d like to appear in.
Deciding on the right press list is super important. If you’ve taken time to write a press release you want to secure all the right coverage, in all the right places. Avoid just sending it to a couple of people, otherwise you’re unlikely to see a return on your time invested.
Top tip: As a rough guide, a list between 10-20 journalists (as long as its relevant to them!) is ideal.
Wondering how to choose a journalist? A quick google search should throw up a good selection of publications covering your industry or chosen topic. Then of course, your go-to local papers and online platforms. Try searching business press Liverpool as an example and see what comes up.
When you’ve found a publication or site you’d like to target, have a look at the type of articles on there. See who has written the ones most relevant to you and make a note of their e-mail address.
Once you’ve created your target press list you can divide them into your contacts into your chosen segments (think back to your tailored press releases from point 2).
Now you’re ready to pitch!
4) Perfecting your pitch
Now for the tricky bit. Grabbing the journalist’s attention. But don’t worry, we’re here to help! Follow these key points and you can’t go far wrong.
The best way to get your news to a journalist is via e-mail. To do this you need to grab their attention. And fast. Journalists get hundreds of press releases every day, so get straight to your point. Swiftly introduce what the release is about, who it is from and pull out why it is interesting.
Top tip: copy the body of the release below so it’s easy to read straight away.
The most important thing about issuing your release is your timing. To get your e-mail seen you need to think like a journalist. Send a release too early on a Monday morning and it might get lost in a busy inbox. Send it too late in the day and it might get lost in tomorrows to do list. If you’re targeting a print publication make sure you know its press deadline and get it in well ahead of time.
Top tip: if you want to be included in the next day’s e-newsletter aim to get your news out by 3pm.
The final step is to follow up. 9 times out of 10 the best way to secure coverage is to speak with the journalist on the phone. Sending one e-mail is unlikely to secure coverage, unless you’re a regular!
Select your very top tier target publications and get the relevant person on the phone to draw their attention to your story. Tell them in one line why your release is relevant to them. This will make you more memorable. If its not for them, remember that feedback is invaluable. Ask what type of news they would be looking for and what would make your piece more relevant to them.
5) Complete the circle
Awesome! You’ve secured some great press. Now to tell everyone about it. Make sure you’re sharing any online links via social media. And don’t forget to add your coverage to your website or blog.
Top tip: Retweeting and sharing content directly from the publications platforms is a great way of adding variety to your feed.
For more information about how we can support you and your business, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0151 706 8111.