Getting your business “known” is a broad subject. When talking about being known, does it mean that consumers have heard of your business and its good reputation? Or does it mean they choose your business over others when they need the type of product or service you provide?
We’re actually talking about two different subjects here: one is public relations and the other is marketing. What’s the difference?
Public Relations consists of creating, promoting and maintaining goodwill and a favorable image among the public towards a business or other activity.
Marketing is the activity of creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging products or services that have value for customers, clients and society at large.
In this article I’m going to take up public relations, as PR should always come before marketing.
One very valid and economical way to employ public relations in getting your business known is through the use of press releases. You’ve heard about them, but how do you write one and get it published?
The first thing to know is that a press release is news. Whatever you choose to write about must be newsworthy and something your public would be interested in reading about. But don’t get too stuck on that. There are probably a lot more newsworthy events happening in your business than you might think. You just have to find the right angle.
Here are some ideas for press release news angles you can use to gain online visibility:
- New product or service
- New blog or website
- Publication of new content
- Award or accolade announcement
- Upcoming event
- Promotion or sale announcement
- New strategic partnership
- New team hire
- CEO speaking at a conference
- A new take on an old problem
I’m sure you can think of many other ideas specific to your industry, but that should get you started.
Dos and Don’ts
Start Strong. You only have a few seconds to grab your readers’ attention, so you want to capture it with an intriguing opening. Your headline, summary and first paragraph should define your news. The rest of your release should provide the detail.
Identify Yourself. If your release doesn’t clearly identify the source of the information within the first couple paragraphs, you may lose the promotional value that it could provide.
Write Clearly. Do not use hype, slang or excessive exclamation points, as your release could then be viewed as an advertisement rather than a news release. Typos and bad grammar will hurt the professional image you are trying to convey. The best way to communicate is to write plainly, using ordinary language. Using an abundance of technical language limits your reading audience.
Write in the third person. Do not directly address the consumer (calling them “you”) or refer to yourself or your company as “I” or “we.” Doing this comes across as an advertisement or selling piece.
Include Photos and Videos. Using photographs or videos can make your release much more interesting to the recipient so do use them whenever possible. Some sites allow them while others charge a fee to include them.
Include a Boilerplate Statement. This is typically your “About the Company” section of the press release. This is where you give a brief description of your company and its products and services. Some press release sites have a separate section for this, while others do not. If the latter is the case, include it as the last paragraph of your press release body.
Publishing Your Release
Once you’ve written and proof-read your release, it’s time to get it published. There are quite a few websites that publish press releases. Some are free of charge and others have both free and paid options. The first thing you will have to do is create an account with each site which is pretty self-explanatory. Once you’ve created your account, you can submit your press release. Some sites publish it immediately while others go through a review process. My experience is that if I’ve followed all of the above points, I do not get too many rejects. But it does happen occasionally if they think it’s too “salesy” or not newsworthy. You will usually get an email explaining why it was rejected so you can correct and resubmit it.
As I mentioned, there are many sites where you can publish your press release. Some points to consider when deciding which sites to utilize are; 1) Do you want to use free or paid services? 2) Does the site get indexed by Google News? (many people use Google News to stay informed, so you would want your release to be found there) 3) Does the site allow anchor text links in the body of the release (these are visible, clickable text in the body of a release or article linking to another site – possibly yours, which are very useful for improving your own site’s SEO – “SEO” is an important term here and I highly suggest that you look into if you do not know its meaning).
Rather than list out all of the various sites, I’m including a link to a website that provides a list of the top 60 free press release sites. Some of them also provide paid services. The list gives additional information about each site, such as the points I mentioned in the above paragraph. Here is the link: 60+ Free Press Release Distribution Sites.
Old school press releases were designed to be sent to journalists in hopes that they would pick up your story and print it in a magazine or newspaper. Now with having the internet, a lucky “side effect” of online press releases is that they do reach your potential customers directly, so not only do you create good PR for your company, you can sometimes get a lead directly from that press release as well. I’ve had potential clients call in right off one of my press releases.
So in fact, press releases can span across PR and marketing!
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