When you hear the phrase press release, what do you think of? Maybe a stuffy, stodgy memorandum that details a few technical points about an announcement. It probably doesn’t have flair, though, whatever you think of. Which is what we want to talk about today. If you include a press release in your marketing strategy, you can get cheap and widespread publicity from a number of different outlets and media.
What is a Press Release?
A press release is a summary of important news related to your company. You’ll essentially write a press release, then send it to several news organizations so they’re aware of what’s happening. If they’re interested, they’ll write about the news in their publications.
To be more specific, press releases aren’t normally written for page copy. Instead, they catch the attention of the people who do write the news, so they can decide if they want to pursue the lead.
With this in mind, press releases tend to be a lot shorter than regular articles, and focus on facts primarily.
The important takeaways from this quite are that aren’t normally written for page copy, their length is shorter than similar articles, and that their focus tends to be on facts, rather than commentary. These are recognized across the board as reasons why press releases are of a particular (and perhaps limited) use.
However, we want to take this opportunity to give examples of how you can lean into these particular elements to help your business grow and get the word out to markets and demographics that you might not be able to otherwise reach.
Effectively Using a Press Release
When you write a press release, remember that it is about the facts. You don’t want to include extraneous details about anything except the topic of the release. If it is about a new product launch, you shouldn’t include mention of your last quarter’s earnings. Basically, you need to stay on point.
Because here’s the thing: press releases are free copy for newspapers, websites, magazines, and the radio. Because of their nature, press releases are meant to be copied and pasted in part or in whole. Staying on point and keeping to the facts, however, does not mean that your writing cannot have style, voice, or actually say something that would differentiate it from the dozens of other press releases that zoom into inboxes and across desks on a daily basis.
If a newspaper has a spot open in the local business section, and it’s a slow news week? They can just copy/paste part of your press release. Many radio stations have a segment where they go through local announcements. It’s not rare for them to abbreviate press releases and read them on air. Websites do this kind of thing, too, only they can do it even more effectively sometimes: you can get picked up by RSS and posted at various places who are looking for it. You can submit to press release distributors for just this purpose.
The Most Important Part
Let us also stress the biggest point here. Whenever someone publishes all or part of your press release, you are getting free advertising. But not only that, you’re getting free advertising in your own words. By using press releases instead of traditional marketing materials, you don’t have to worry about someone misinterpreting anything or leaving out the most important parts. Nor do you have to worry about someone else’s bad writing being associated with your brand, and that’s worth its weight in gold.
Write Them Often
The thing about using a press release as a major part of your marketing strategy is that you need to get used to writing them. If you’re not used to it, sitting down and putting out a quality press release can be kind of tough.
But the only way that you’re going to get better at writing them is to actually sit down and do it. So whenever there’s something that your brand or company is announcing, consider writing a press release for it, too. It may not be appropriate to send out a press release to the mayor’s office about your 90% off sale. But if you have expanded the business into a second store, moved locations, or even started carrying a whole new kind of merchandise or providing a new service, that certainly is press release-worthy.
Coffee shops that open up boutiques in a part of their building? Write a press release. Web design agency that begins a partnership with another local business? Write a press release. Your company win an industry award? Yep, write a press release.
Basically, anything that you would send out as an email to your list that isn’t directly selling or self-serving, you should write a press release for it. The more often you do it, the better they will become, and the more likely you will get them used in various places.
Cultivate a Unique Voice
As you practice, make sure that you focus on keeping your brand’s voice in the copy that you put out. Most press releases don’t have a lot of personality because they’re formal, professional, facts-based documents that are simply trying to relay information.
Informing people, however, does not mean you have to be dull or boring. If your brand is lively and vibrant, write your press releases lively and vibrant. Make sure that whoever that reads the document knows that it’s you who wrote it, not by the name at the top, but by the tone and way the information is conveyed. Every writer has a voice, and while you won’t have thousands and thousands of words to make that voice heard, a press release does not have to be devoid of it, either.