When you hear the word press release, press statement
or news release you generally think of some late breaking world news in politics, business, or sports. Did you ever wonder about the machine that drives the media releases or who they’re directed to?
Well, press releases have been around for over a century now, as a way for an organization to report newsworthy items to ‘The Press.’ The press, of course, started with the printed word in the form of circulars, newspapers, and magazines; then eventually radio, movies, and television; now the world wide web. Over the years the channels have changed or become more abundant, but the principles remain similar to when the practice first started.
Usually a press release originates from a hired
public relations professional, an agency, or an
in-house PR department and is distributed to
the media in hopes it will get printed or aired
furthering the publicity of the entity it’s about.
It is true that the weightier events of the day
dominate the media, but anyone or any organization,
especially a business should learn to take advantage
of using press releases. It is a common myth that
something has to be really “newsworthy” to get the attention
of the media; I think we can all agree on that one this day and age.
Ultimately the aim of a press or media release is to inform the public of a particular event and to shed a favorable light on who they’re about. Sometimes news or press conferences are arranged as a result of these media releases, other times the releases get printed in the newspaper, or featured on radio and TV, and many times nothing happens at all but the flow of information continues. Press agents are constantly submitting items of interest to the media and eventually things get picked up and this can start a buzz.
Traditionally the press release had a formal construction consisting of a headline, a dateline, an introduction, the body, the ‘boilerplate,’ the close, and then the contact information. Most of these are all familiar elements of many types of copy including articles which is essentially what press releases have become online. The ‘boilerplate’ which you may not be familiar with is more or less a bit of info about the actual person or business. As to the ‘close’ this refers to the traditional number “30″ or three hash symbols “###’ to indicate the end of the release. Like most forms of the media it is far more relaxed today, however, good attention grabbing copy which clearly gets the message across is still good form.
Much like the press release practices of yore, the idea is to make something newsworthy out of something ordinary. Sometimes the occurrence may actually be startling and fantastic which is even better but not necessary. The main goal is to keep your business in the public eye and there are a multitude of press release distribution sites that allow you to do that now. It is up to you and the professional you’re working with to come up with an approach. You can, of course, issue several different releases about many aspects of your business; such as a grand opening, a new store, a change of location, new hires, different hours, promotion of an employee, a sale, a featured product, a celebrity appearance, a party, a community award, a fundraiser, a donation made to a charity, and the list goes on and on. You can probably already think of a few ideas of your own that relate to your business.
One of the obvious advantages of creating press releases is the potential to reach and inform more people and future customers about your business. Next is getting indexed by the search engines which creates another way for people to find you and these submissions stay online indefinitely. You also have the ability to post your contact information and often times a link back to your site creating a back-link which may improve your own page ranking. Also, your item may get picked up and aggregated by other sources which spreads your news even further. Along with all of these pluses there is always the chance that something you post will go viral and create a serious buzz or flood of traffic which translates to even more business.
It is best to hire a New Media Specialist or Social Media Professional to help you plan a strategy. They can write the press release, create good headlines, and distribute them to the top sites while you run your company. If you do decide on doing it yourself, write a few paragraphs about something you want to hi-lite as if you’re telling a friend about it. Give it a headline that would make you want to read on and know more. Be sure to put all of your contact information, your web address, and a link if possible. Enter it in an appropriate category and if there is a place to add “tags,” don’t leave this blank, enter some keywords that are associated with your business and include the city and state. This entry is just a basic overview about press releases but I hope it’s been helpful and shows you the value of how powerful they can be.
Here are 10 TOP-RATED FREE PRESS RELEASE SITES:
(these highly read sites also offer paid upgrades)
Although not press release sites per se, it is worth mentioning as an addendum, to be featured on top sites like The Huffington Post, Yahoo’s homepage, Google News or Technorati is a huge boost of publicity for any business or organization.
Special thanks to Kevin Jackson for the artwork.