Writing a Press Release

As WomanOwned.com has grown and expanded, there have been even more reasons to learn about promotion and marketing. While we still are experimenting with some options for dispersing information to the public, allow me to share some basics from our research.

Press releases give media representatives important information about your story and do so in a creative way. Whether you are announcing a product or service, a website, results of some research, or the promotion/hiring of staff, your goal is entice the editor so that he/she sincerely wants to write your article. This means that you make the facts interesting and you submit the press release to an editor who writes about your area of business. The worst thing you can do is to send a press release on your business' initial public offering (IPO) to the home and garden editor. It will go straight into the trash can. Don't send your release to several (or all) editors at a particular publication either. This will also lead to very poor response.

The best thing to do is to target interested editors/publications and to match your distribution method with the preference of the editors you are targeting. But first you must decide if your news is of interest locally, nationally, or both. If you know local editors personally, contact them to ask for advice. Otherwise, you should do some research yourself. Put a list together of the newspapers, magazines, news shows where you want to promote your information. Then contact the publication/show and ask how they would prefer to receive a press release. For national announcements, you may want to utilize a service that can help to disseminate your information for a cost. For this, check out www.ereleases.com, or www.majon.com. I found that prices range from $199-$500 for sending releases out to national sources and from $500-$700 for having the service write and send out your press release. You can save money if you have the time and perseverance to do the research and writing yourself.

For larger corporate accounts, a good place to investigate is PR Newswire (www.prnewswire.com). This service provides comprehensive communications services for public relations and investor relations professionals. This is a good place to check out just to keep up to date on the news of the day too.

So how should you format your release? A friend of mine who is an editor for a magazine gave me these suggestions:

  • A good release should cover the essentials in one page. If editors want or need more information, they can contact you.
  • Excessive quotes about the business from staff or directors will be cut. Try to obtain testimonials from outsiders who have been affected by your product or service.
  • Make sure to include answers to the who, what, where, when, why and how questions.
  • If your product is hard to describe verbally, consider sending a photo of it. Be sure the quality is good!
  • Do not repeatedly send the same release to the same place or the same editor. This approach will backfire.

You will notice that all press releases are a little different, but that they basically follow a similar format. Place the most important information in the first paragraph of your release. This way, if your reader is just scanning for information, they will read the good stuff first. Like a funnel, the importance of details decrease as you move further into your release. End your press release with your complete contact info (name, address, phone, fax, e-mail, and URL).

It is important that your information is presented in this general way. If an editor, who sifts through hundreds of thousands of press releases a week, cannot find the information he/she is looking for in your release, you may never win a story.

Check out our press release for the re-launch of WomanOwned.com and the format we used as a base here.

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