Ever heard of Ivy Lee and his response to a tragedy that affected the lives of more than 50 during the early part of the 20th century? His response resulted in the creation of what was to become the main stay in public relations campaigns, namely press releases.
A press release is also known as a news release. It is a written announcement that is directed to the news media about any news having some value. The press release is aimed at encouraging journalists to write about the news, so that the company or business releasing the news gets more exposure to the public without any expense. Press releases can be given for several types of news, such as awards and accomplishments, a launch of a new product or service, upcoming events, financial data, promotions and sales news, etc.
History of Press Releases
Public Relations lore goes like this: A train wreck taking place of October 28th in the year 1906 in Atlantic City in New Jersey resulted in more than fifty dead. Pennsylvania Railroad was the owners of the train and they were one of the clients of a young man named Ivy Lee. Ivy Lee managed to convince the company to release a statement about the wreck. This began a chain of such a practice, where companies starting addressing such important issues by offering their explanations to the general public by means of a press release via the media. Lee wrote out the news and the New York Times printed it exactly in his own words, so impressed were they.
Nowadays, media outlets do not use the exact words of press releases, with journalists merely using it as a beginning to their story. The above incident was probably the first kind of press release and was a trend setter in public relations campaigns. Today, technology has changed and a press release can accomplish much more. However, a press release is as relevant today as it was then.
Important Facets of an Effective Press Release
Press releases can be a great way to get free publicity, but it can be rather challenging to write. However, there is a standard procedure available and the writer should adhere to it in order to create an effective Release:
- You need to brainstorm the event to be publicized. Make sure you know all about the event: the why, when, where, who and so on related to the event. The information presented should be factually correct and concise.
- While writing a PR, make use of a company letterhead, as you can provide ready information about the company, its name, contact number, address and website address.
- The first line should consist of the word PRESS RELEASE in capitals. You should also provide the name of a contact person for further information and it should be placed in a prominent part of the release.
- If you want the news to be released urgently, insert the words ‘Immediate Release’ or else put in the date when you want the news to be released.
- The headline should be made bold, so that it stands out and catches the attention of the reader. It should also be a summation of the entire press release.
- The text or body of the PR should contain all the information. It is an important facet of the release and should cover all aspects of the event, so that readers have no doubts or questions.
- The letter should be ended on a note of thanks to the reader and encourage them to contact the company’s phone number for any further doubts or questions.
- The press release can be submitted to the media either by email or by regular mail to reach a maximum number of people.
7 Tips for Writing Effective Press Releases
Marketing strategies use press releases as a tool that is most cost effective and highly useful. If written in the right way, it can result in a dramatic increase of sales. It provides a great image about the company and its products and services. There are several aspects to be kept in mind regarding a press release, so that the company can succeed in creating a lasting impact on readers.
Incorporating important information – A press release incorporates all the important information at the beginning, so that the audience is forced to read it and get the information. When presented in an interesting way, all ground breaking facts are released in a bold and hard hitting manner, thereby creating a lasting impression on the readers.
Writing from the audience’s perspective – Assume that you are one of the readers, so that you can incorporate interesting information and compelling. The audience can relate to such a viewpoint.
Offer a donation to a good cause – You can make the press release more effective by offering to donate towards a good cause. Many people are very impressed to hear about companies helping worthy causes. It boosts the image of the company and gives free promotion to them.
Connecting to a national or local news – There might be some important national or local events, such as unemployment, a recent catastrophe or some other local issues that is the talk of the town. You can relate to the current crisis or news that is affecting the people and relate your service to the issue. If your service or product can offer any solution to the national or local issues affecting people at the time, you can get more publicity.
Incorporating Seasonal Events – For instance, summer is usually related to vacations and travel. You will find a lot of press releases related to airline deals and vacation travel offers. Create an effective press release that relates to the seasonal events.
Following a format – You must strictly follow the press release format. You can do this by browsing through press release submission websites and see the formats suggested by them. Following a uniform format provides a professional image to the company giving the press release.
Mention quotes – Use direct language while writing a press release. Arrest the interest of the readers by mentioning quotes of important people relevant to your product or service. You can give the quotes of the CEO of the company or other experts in the field.
Nine Mistakes to Avoid
While making a press release, there are some things that you also need to avoid:
- Try not to incorporate too many facts and also an excess of promotional taglines in the release. The facts should be smoothly blended with an attractive presentation.
- Make the presentation brief and concise putting forth simple messages.
- Avoid sales speak in the headline and see that it is not boring. A unique idea should be presented so that it is something exclusive. The headline should not be messy and confusing but compact.
- Try avoiding hype and just present facts. The focus should be on quality and not on quantity.
- Don’t forget to proof read the press release, as a release containing a lot of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors will fail to be impressive.
- Do not cram the PR with too many keywords. Of course, it is necessary to optimize the press release for search engine ranking optimization. However, the essence of main focus of the press release should not be lost while concentrating on stuffing with keywords.
- Stay away from being seen as a commercial advertisement. The PR is supposed to be a news related item, so present it in the form of news.
- Do not include your email address in the PR or you may be flooded with spam offers.
- Don’t forget to include your website link in the PR, as this may be what you are actually promoting.
10 Great Websites for Submitting Your Press Release
There are several free as well as paid websites where you can submit your press release. There are free services, low cost services as well as high end ones. You will need to create an account and then submit your press release at these websites. Some of the top ten websites are mentioned here:
They allow 4 links or URLs. Their pricing varies according to the distribution circle. They charge $ 75 in case you want to opt for the advanced SEO package. This kind of release includes text links that are inserted within your content. Small and mid-sized businesses can make use of their services, if they are not able to spend thousands of dollars for a press release. They can garner high traffic and offer widespread distribution. They also offer good customer service and guidance.
The price depends on the distribution circle and the charge is per text link. They are a credible source for delivering your news. They optimize your news for search engines, which is the most trafficked website when compared to competitors. They offer distribution solutions for all kinds of organizations, including small businesses, public interest organizations and nonprofit organizations.
This is a free website for submitting your press release and they allow 5 text links or URLs. Free member services also include RSS feeds. You can also have the option of creating your RSS feed. You can also create keyword email alerts and a news category.
They have several price options. It is considered to be the best in SEO and web traffic. You can pick the pricing package that suits you best, such as the standard, the advanced and the premium. The news is sent to thousands of outlets. In advanced packages, they offer to optimize the content for SEO. The news is also sent to premium news sites in advanced packages.
They allow 8 URLS or text links. They offer RSS feeds and you can add news to your website. They also offer several press release resources, such as press writing tips and services, formatting codes and so on. You can use their services for a correctly formatted and well written PR to be more effective, as they are also SEO enhanced as well as proof read.
They allow 8 text links. You can create a profile and then start promoting your website or blog. You can also connect with other people in the program. You can become a premium member for about $ 10 a month and then post unlimited press releases to about 20 media outlets, such as Google and Yahoo. The press releases are then promoted over the net. You can also send your PR to 50,000 of the members at a time and select the members based on location or on the basis of the industry.
They allow 8 text links but your press release must be newsworthy. It must be written with a news angle. They normally publish all the press releases on their site and send the more worthy ones to their partner’s high press release sites. They also have simple monthly subscriptions and you can cancel it at any time. They have different pricing options for fixed number of releases, such as 3 PR in a month or a higher amount for unlimited press releases. They also offer a Clipwire Trademark, which is a proof of publication report.
They allow 8 text links and their charges vary according to whether you want a single distribution or unlimited press releases option. They are able to access an extensive database of outlets and this includes radio and television stations as well as daily magazines and several other web outlets. They offer manual SEO, links to the website and a picture gallery along with sharing features with more than 200 social media sites and bookmarking sites.
They allow 8 text links. They can boost your search engine visibility and guarantee an effective online media exposure. Social media sharing is easy and it can increase traffic to your website. Both monthly and prepaid plans are allowed and they charge only $ 79 for submitting a single press release. Excellent customer support is offered along with features that can help you track the results. You can schedule the release for the next day, the next week or even after a year.
This is free website and they allow 3 text links. It is an online distribution for press release submission. They distribute the PR to several news sites and search engines. You can also customize real-time alerts for daily or weekly ones and have your own press room.
Four Great Alternatives to Press Releases
Sending release to local media outlets:
You can contact the city editor or the editors connected with the section related to your press release content and get it published in the daily newspaper. You can also get it published in magazines or distribute it through radio stations and TV stations by contacting the News Director.
Targeting online newspapers and other outlets:
You can send the press releases to specific newspapers and other outlets. You can even send the press release targeted to specific online newspapers or any other media outlets in a specific geographic location where you would like to have your business.
Submitting the press release to industry leaders:
You can also opt for submitting the press release to the important players in your niche, such as eminent bloggers and other important industrial leaders related to your business. You need to find the email address of the bloggers and then mail them the copies of your press release. If you belong to any trade association, you can contact the one in charge of public or media relations and then send them the press release, through email, fax or through snail mail.
Use of distribution services, such as websites mentioned above:
There are many businesses that don’t have the time to search for proper outlets for their press releases. In this case, you can work with sites, such as Online PR News, PR Inside or other low cost services, such as SubmitPressRelease 123. You can also go for high end ones, such as PRNewswire or BusinessWire.
A press release is essentially information that the company wants to share with the public through the use of media. When submitting or sending your press release to a service or directly to newspapers, you should take care of several important aspects. See that the release coincides with an event or a launch. Try to choose an hour that is a little atypical, such as 9.08, so that it does not get lost in the rush of releases. You must also take care to follow the required guidelines and the format. Don’t forget to send your link and contact person information along with the press release. Follow it up with a phone call in order to confirm that the press release has been received and give any other information and assistance that they require.