What is a Press Release?
Before you can integrate a press release into a marketing strategy, you need a solid understanding of what the document entails. To quote an article on how to write 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 personalities 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.
You can get across more information by writing in a way so that people want to read it than in a way that puts folks to sleep. And being professional and writing with a unique voice are not mutually exclusive.
Make Relationships with Your Contacts
When you start sending out press releases, you will be sending them to a lot of different places. Magazine editors, PR directors, administrative assistants, and so on. The best thing that you can do is before you start sending them, reach out and contact that person. Just say hello, introduce yourself (if you haven’t already formally met), and let them know that you’re going to be sending press releases their way and that you wanted to make sure they were the person to direct them toward.
It’s that simple. It means you’re treating them as a person, not an inbox. And if you happen to get your press release run somewhere or mentioned, thank them. They were under no obligation to do that, and it didn’t cost you a thing (other than the time to write it, really). So a quick email saying thanks can go a long way to getting it done again. Feel free to make it a text if you have built up that kind of relationship.
Use Quotes and Relevant Testimonials
Let’s say that your business is hosting a major event (a beer festival, maybe) in your town. You want to get the word out, so you plan to have a press release sent out across the region. Unfortunately, outside of your city, not many people know you. So to get people to come in from out of town, you could use a quote from someone they already trust. Quotes and testimonials from special guests work well. Maybe they would talk about how great it’s been to work with you and all the plans they’ve seen come to fruition since they came on board.
Whatever it is, quotes from a recognizable figure in your press releases can liven up the text because it breaks up the text, and because as people scan through it, there will be a name they recognize. Which will make them remember your event and release more than the other, drier ones.
Hopefully, you have a few things rolling around in your head about how you can incorporate more press releases into your marketing strategy. Just remember, you don’t have to be dull and dry in a press release. Just because there’s a format that’s generally accepted doesn’t mean that there’s no room for creativity within that format. So the next time you have an announcement that you think people should know about, make sure that it’s FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.