What Makes an Effective Business Press Release?

A business press release is designed to convey business news to the commercial business press. Contrary to popular belief, a business press release is not a brochure, it announces or explains a business development, such as new product releases, mergers, acquisitions, corporate events or announcements.

For small business owners, exposure is everything. You want your product, service, locations, or your face to be in the right places in front of the right people to drive sales and build brand awareness.

In the digital world, the most valuable commodity is attention. That’s why you buy digital ads, post on social media and your blog, and sponsor valuable content from high-yield publications. Though digital marketing requires new, innovative, and agile thinking, an old standby of the media world still has a lot of potential to boost your business through valuable press coverage.

The press release is still a great tool to get the word out about your business’s new and important information and the value that you can bring to your target audience through coveted media coverage. We’ve put together a great introduction to the value of press releases, how to draft your own, and how to get it in front of the right people through strategic distribution.

Why Write A Press Release?

Press releases, by definition, are newsworthy announcements for your business. They’re meant to let the world know something about you and your business. In today’s digital world, press releases can lead to high-value consumer impressions and SEO improving link-building.

Business owners don’t distribute press releases for just anything. They’re meant to highlight something new and exciting that the world needs to know about. Here’s a few examples of what to (and what NOT to) issue a press release about:

Great Press Release Topic Best Practices:

  • You’ve released a new product
  • You’ve developed a noteworthy partnership
  • Your product launch is coming up
  • You’re running a charity event/have a philanthropic project
  • You won an award
  • You’ve just opened!

All of these topics reflect the following: you’re letting the world knew about something new and exciting.

Press Release Topic Faux Pas:

  • You want to rehash and old marketing campaign
  • You’ve hired a new assistant
  • You really think people should buy into your value proposition
  • You got a great new LinkedIn headshot
  • It’s someone’s birthday in the office

These topics aren’t news, or if they are, they aren’t impactful or noteworthy developments that you would want to share. Remember, you’re writing a press release for the purpose of getting great press for your service or product.

Put yourself in an editor’s shoes. Is this topic interesting? Is it timely? Can the information provided be made into an attention-grabbing news story feature? Does this press release make their job of finding new and interesting stories easier?

Summary: Your press release should be conveying a new and exciting development that will be attractive to editors of target publications.

Formatting And Writing a Business Press Release

Press releases all have the same general formula. You craft an eye-catching headline, juice it up with some information backed body copy, give a bio of you and/or your business, and leave some contact information to encourage correspondence. Each of these sections has its quirks. Below we’ve done our best to pull together the most important best practices for each section.

If you find your self struggling still, you can find tons of free press release examples and press release templates on reputable marketing websites like HubSpot.

Killer Headlines:
The people who run the publications you’re targeting are busy people. Your press release is competing with a multitude of others that are hitting an editor’s inbox every second of the working (and non-working) day. Just like a thesis of an essay, a good press release headline grabs someone’s attention and gets them to read your copy.

A good headline is concise and specific, written to reflect the needs of your audience, and engaging.

Quick Tip: When you share your press release, the same ideas apply to the subject of your emails. No one is going to read an email with the subject line of “Press Release”. Make it engaging and write it to get the editor’s attention.

Value-Driven Body Copy:
The body of your press release is its meat and potatoes. In this part, you explain exactly what you want to share, and in the process intrigue your audience. You want to cover the who, what, where, when, why, and how of your story. You want to write with the intention of bringing value to your target audience.

Your first sentence should also grab the reader’s attention. Follow with an opening paragraph that covers everything at a high-level. Then go on and fill in important details throughout the rest of the piece, covering everything you introduced in your first paragraph. Great press releases will dispense the information in short paragraphs and bullet points that are concise and to the point.

Don’t forget that writing press releases should still be fun! Keep the human element in your copy. It will help keep your content relatable and accessible.

You’ll get bonus points for including engaging visuals that either model what you’re sharing about or provide valuable data at a glance.

About Us:
This is where you sell yourself. Give a concise but comprehensive background of your business, highlighting your big successes and hitting the key points that people need to know to get you. Think of this as your business’s written elevator pitch.

Contact Us:
At the very end of the press release, include the name, phone number, and email of your media outreach point of contact. This allows editors and reporters to reach out after reading what you sent them. Hopefully, they’ll ask for more information or an interview!
Quick Tip: Press releases don’t have an official word count, but don’t write an essay. Most press releases are 1-3 pages long depending on the topic discussed. Be concise, structured, and value-driven.

Summary: Press releases have a headline, body copy, an about us section, and concludes with contact information. Each piece is an important part of the puzzle of making your press release engaging, valuable, and marketable to editors.

Getting It Out There – Picking The Right Distribution Channels

Public relations (PR) isn’t just a numbers game. It won’t do you any good to shoot your news release out to anyone and everyone who owns a website or a publication.

You need to be strategic about getting your press release in front of the right people. You also want to make sure that the publications, bloggers, and news outlets that you’re targeting are ones that your target consumers actually engage with.

A successful PR campaign will include a detailed analysis of relevant publications, the people who you need to talk to, and how to best position your important news to succeed in a busy media environment.

You want to think about how you can target your press release not only to the right publication but also to the relevant reporters and editors. Think about whether or not your press release is a good fit before sending it out.

You can find a lot of this information by exploring a publication’s website and checking out what’s being written there, and who it’s being written by. Find the contacts with the highest value for your business and write them a personalized email explaining why your press release is valuable to their audience. And don’t be afraid to follow-up! Sometimes emails just get lost.

Summary: Don’t just shoot off your press release to everyone under the sun. Evaluate the best possible avenues through which your content will bring your business the most value.

Final Thoughts

Press releases are your chance to build lasting relationships with high-yield media outlets. If you can build relationships with reporters and editors and supply them with a steady stream of high-value stories, they’ll, in turn, give you the attention you need for your small business to thrive.

A well-written press release combined with due diligence when it comes to PR strategy can give your business the edge it needs to compete in an increasingly digital world based on the new hot commodity: attention.

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