Press releases are my #1 marketing tool. . . they are integral to my success as an artist. For example, my most recent drawing was covered by over 20 news organizations and reached hundreds of thousands of new eyeballs for free. This kind of exposure typically costs $20,000 or more!
Need I say more? Read on to find out how to make a press release work for you.
What is a press release?
A press release is nothing more than a short story distributed to the media announcing a wide range of news items such as awards, products, special events, interesting life stories, etc. It should be sent to the editor or producer by e-mail, fax or snail mail. A small amount of research will help you track down the proper contact for each news outlet that you’re sending it too.
How long should my press release be?
Stay at two pages or less. Ideally your release should be under 300 words.
How to write a press release:
A press release should always be written in third person. Avoid writing ‘sales speak’. Editors aren’t interested in selling your products. Their interest is giving readers stories they want to read.
At the very top of the page PRESS RELEASE should be spelled out in all CAPS and centered in bold. If the press release is for IMMEDIATE RELEASE, say so, although a release with no release date is presumed to be for immediate release.
Writing the headline of a press release:
The headline and opening paragraph are the most important elements. Keep the headline short, catchy and to the point; ideally 5-7 words is enough. It should be centered, and in bold.
In addition, remove unnecessary words from the headline, like “the,” “an,” and “that.” Avoid anything that appears more like a sales pitch than a press release (i.e.: exclamation points!!).
Constructing the first paragraph:
Begin with the date and city for which the press release is originated. It should contain in brief detail what the press release is about. Focus on the main idea, not the little details. Concise and to the point is your goal.
Writing the second paragraph:
The second paragraph of your press release is a good place to drop a quote. Use quotes to expand the key points from the first paragraph, but keep them short. This paragraph should also explain the details: who cares about this event, why YOU should care, where to find the event, and when it will happen.
Forming the final (or third) paragraph:
Answer any questions the main paragraph may have raised. This paragraph is a summation of the release, and should include further information on you with your contact information clearly spelled out.
Name, website, location and phone number should be printed clearly at the end of the third paragraph. The contact details should include:
Telephone with proper country/city codes and extension numbers
Mobile Phone Number (optional)
Timings of availability
Web site Address
Finally, journalistic standards require the end of a press release to have three “#” symbols, centered directly underneath the last line of the release, like this: ###.
When should you send out your press release?
If your release is time sensitive (announcing a specific event at a specific time) target your release for between 9:30 -11:00am and no later than 2:00pm. You’ll want to give the editor time to send out a reporter. If your release does not have a deadline, don’t sweat the time of day.
Whether or not your release is time sensitive, ALWAYS follow up with a phone call to the editor/producer to make sure they received it. I send most releases by e-mail which can get caught in spam filters (especially if an image is included). A follow up phone call can also develop the release into a full story.
Avoid sending out your news release when a major all-consuming world event is happening. It’s best to pick a slow news day if possible. When you send your release can also depend according to publication. Keep in mind the schedules of the differing publications. Bottom line for any marketing venture is to know your target market.
One final point to remember:
Use your headline as the subject line of the e-mail if sending by e-mail. If you’ve written a good “grabber” headline, this will help your message stand out in the editor’s e-mail inbox.