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A Press Release Primer

Discussion in 'General Marketing' started by jhmattern, May 20, 2007.

  1. #1
    I answer questions about press releases here all the time. I write dozens of press releases each month, often for DP clients. I write on PR, and especially press releases, offer free resources to help you write better press releases, and have published an e-book on the subject.


    So why does anyone care about what I have to say on press release writing to begin with?

    For starters I'm a public relations professional. My degree is in the field. I'm trained in PR writing (including news releases). I run a small PR firm. I've worked in non-profit, corporate, and entertainment PR. I now specialize primarily in online PR efforts. My press releases have had my clients featured in major metropolitan newspapers, to major online media outlets, to on-air radio interviews and even live performances. To the best of my knowledge, you won't find many other people here with that background willing to share as much info as I am to help you get the best results from your releases. But I find myself repeating the same info constantly, and thought it was about time, I simply compiled most of it together. So here you go...


    What Are Press Releases?
    SEMrush
    Press releases are a media relations tool (don't get that confused with an internet marketing tool). If you forget about all of the hype you hear about them on forums like this for a minute, you'll see that you can get even better results by keeping that media relations focus. The purpose of press releases is to disseminate news about you, your site, or your company to members of the media (from print reporters to bloggers). The idea behind doing that is that if you're doing something newsworthy, people will naturally want to talk about it, and you'll get a nice "word of mouth" style buzz about your news, and in turn your site.


    Benefits of Press Releases

    1. Exposure / Buzz
    2. Image / developing an expert status
    3. Highly targeted traffic
    4. Backlinks (high quality, permanent, relevant backlinks on authority sites if you do it right)


    Press Release Ideas (Reasons to Write a Press Release)

    1. You've launched a new company / site / product (ONLY newsworthy if there's something truly unique, or it ties well into something else that's newsworthy or timely).

    2. There's something major in the news tied your site / company, and doing a release based on it will give you a chance to have yourself quoted as an authority source on the subject.

    3. You (or your site) has won some kind of significant award.

    4. The company / site is doing something that would make for a good human interest story (donating a large amount to charity, setting up a scholarship... something like that).

    5. There's an ownership change or some major staff change that's newsworthy (like bringing on a well-known person in the industry).

    For more ideas, read 25 Press Release Ideas.


    The Press Release Process

    1. Find a newsworthy angle.

    2. Write your press release (or contract it out).

    3. Distribute your press release to members of the media, bloggers, newswires, etc.

    4. Get media coverage which leads to exposure, high quality backlinks, targeted traffic, and that helps you build or maintain an image with your key public.


    Press Release Writing Tips

    1. 300-400 words is perfectly adequate. You can go a bit longer (I generally recommend 600 words as a max, but that's kind of pushing it).

    2. Make sure your headline is attention-grabbing without being too "cutesy," and that it gives the essence of the news angle immediately.

    3. DON'T FORGET YOUR FULL CONTACT INFO!!! People love to say things like "I don't want my email address up, b/c I'll get spammed," or "I don't want my phone number out publicly." Either get over it, or find another promotional tool. Most distribution sites won't accept a release without both. If journalists look at a release sent manually and there isn't adequare contact info, you're just telling them you don't really want that coverage, and you risk having it scrapped. Just do it. In the end, your chances of being spammed have more to do with your distribution than anything... manual distribution carries the least risk, and submitting to hoards of free distribution sites where the scraper sites pull from will increase that risk.

    Read some more press release writing tips.

    Need more help with press release writing? Then use this free sample press release template and this guide on how to write a press release, or hire a professional press release writer.


    Press Release Distribution Tips

    1. While online press release distribution sites can yield alright results (highly depending on your niche, upgrade levels, date and time of release, and more), it's best to think of them as a supplement to other methods, and not a be all and end all. That might mean as much as launching a full-scale national media relations campaign, to simply sending a copy manually to your local or nearest major metropolitan newspaper or a few niche sites or publications. Doing just a few manual submissions is easy enough to do on your own, doesn't take much time, and can lead to great results.

    2. If you insist on distributing online via free distribution sites, don't waste your time or money (if you hire someone to do it) submitting to tons of them. Choose 1-5 at most. Anything more than that won't give enough added benefit to justify the energy, time, etc. spent. Shoot for the best ROI; not the biggest number of distribution sites. Here are a few I like: www.PR.com, www.PRleap.com, and www.PRurgent.com.

    3. If you distribute manually, always follow submission rules of media outlets, and try to target the most relevant journalist or editor... just sending it to a general fax number or email address is nearly sure to get it scrapped.

    4. Don't hound journalists with follow-up calls and emails. If you piss them off, they'll likely never work with you. Build a relationship carefully, and over time, you'll have more luck landing stories with them.

    5. No matter how else you distribute your release, never neglect to send it to the Associated Press. It's free. Just go to www.ap.org, look for the right journalist, editor, or regional bureau, and fax or email it. An AP pickup can lead to coverage in major media outlets (but of course, there's no guarantee they'll pick up your story... so don't send them garbage about a random site launch or something... have a really newsworthy angle tied to it).


    Why the "Right" Way is Better Than the "IM" Way

    In Internet marketing, people tend to look for a quicker fix. With press releases, site owners abuse releases regularly, littering the Web with what amount to nothing more than articles or advertorials formatted to look like a news release. It's no wonder most get ignored by any legitimate outlets.

    Here's one of the basic ideas:


    You submit a release to a bunch of online press release distribution sites. You get backlinks on those sites, and lots of quick backlinks when it's "picked up," and you get into google news, yahoo news, etc. Hopefully the release will lead to some traffic as well.

    Now here's how doing it the "right way" (meaning targeting real media coverage) works if you do it well:

    You publish a newsworthy, well-written release, with an interesting angle. One or more large media outlets (online or offline doesn't really matter, since most offline outlets have a sister site by now where news is often echoed) pick up the story and write a real piece (or broadcast segment) on it, such as through an interview with you. Other outlets, bloggers, and niche site owners who follow the news in their industry come across it, and it leads to a trickle-down effect over time of more high quality backlinks, b/c they're generally from relevant sites as opposed to scraper sites just showing a PR site's feed (and better than PR sites themselves, where the link usually gets buried within a day into the archives). In addition to the higher quality (although not as quick) backlinks, those outlets have a direct reach to members of the key public you're trying to reach, meaning they can send quality, targeted traffic your way (as opposed to traffic simply from PR sites, which is often someone just glancing at the site to decide if you're worth doing a story on, and then leaving; often dissatisfied).


    So there's a lot of introductory info on press releases. You can learn more by visiting my Free Press Release Writing Guide, or by visiting the Public Relations section of BizAmmo.com. In the future, I'll also be releasing a much more comprehensive e-book as an expansion of this one, which will feature case studies, more on distribution, more on social media press releases, press rooms to archive press releases, etc. (figure about 5 times as long as the current 18 page e-book; maybe a bit more). And if you have specific questions, as always, feel free to ask.

    Jenn
     
    jhmattern, May 20, 2007 IP
    sachin410 likes this.
    SEMrush
  2. ticketwood

    ticketwood Peon

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    #2
    I am interested to know more about you prices.pm please
     
    ticketwood, Sep 20, 2007 IP
  3. jingCo

    jingCo Active Member

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    #3
    Very useful info. I've bookmarked this page and have come back to it often. Thanks! 5 Stars!
     
    jingCo, May 5, 2008 IP
  4. jhmattern

    jhmattern Illustrious Member

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    #4
    Thanks jingco. Since this post is about a year old, I just want to mention that PRleap.com (which I mentioned as an example of a free service in the original post) is no longer free. I do have a list of free press release distribution sites at NakedPR.com though, so you can find plenty of worthwhile options there. :)
     
    jhmattern, May 5, 2008 IP
    sachin410 likes this.
  5. guitarbinge

    guitarbinge Peon

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    #5
    good tips thanx
     
    guitarbinge, May 5, 2008 IP
  6. chenvova11

    chenvova11 Peon

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    #6
    Jenn, thanks for the great work!
     
    chenvova11, May 13, 2008 IP
  7. gabrial

    gabrial Active Member

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    #7
    I'll see that and I'll back to read again...
     
    gabrial, May 13, 2008 IP
  8. osdude

    osdude Peon

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    #8
    thanks for the link ;)
     
    osdude, May 13, 2008 IP