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How to Write a Press Release

Media mentions are a fantastic way to boost your web traffic without paying for advertising. Use the basics of a press release to fashion your release and send to journalists.

Press releases are one of the best tools to shine the spotlight on your business. But don’t feel overwhelmed at the idea of writing one: they’re not difficult at all.

Who, What, When, Where, Why and How

The first thing you need to do is list out the basic subject of your press release. You’ll need to address:

  • Who the release is about (might be your company or employee)
  • What the event or action is
  • When the event occurred or will occur
  • Where the event occurred or will occur
  • Why it’s relevant to readers
  • How they can learn more

Let’s use the example of a mobile applications company that has just received an award to answer these questions.

  • Who: Sappy Apps
  • What: Won the Mobile Apps of Awesomeness Award 2011
  • When: Was announced at the annual Mobile Apps conference, July 11, 2011
  • Where: conference held in Las Vegas at the convention center
  • Why: with the award money, Sappy apps will add features customers have asked for
  • How: website link, email and phone number are included for more information

Shaping Your Release

Now that you’ve got the basics of your press release, you’ll need to format it using a press release template.

Headline: Keep your headline short, to the point, and catchy. It should make anyone who sees it want to click the link to read the press release.

Try:

Customers Agree: Sappy Apps Makes Grocery Shopping Easier With Mobile

Not:

Sappy Apps Recipient of Mobile Apps Award

Which title would you rather read more of?

First Paragraph: All your basic information should be in this paragraph. Assume readers won’t go any further and provide all the who, what, when, where, why and how data they need to know.

Quote: A quotation from someone involved in the event can spice up a release and make it more interesting. Keep the quote short and relevant. No more than two sentences.

Follow-On Paragraphs: You should need only 3-5 paragraphs in total for your press release. Anything more is overkill. Follow up in subsequent paragraphs with more information on the event (where people can buy it, what your company plans to do next, where the event will be held).

Contact Info: Always include a company contact name, phone number, email and website in a press release.

Now What?

Read your press release through and ask others to do so to ensure it is cohesive and error free. From here there are a few things you can do with it:

Distribute It

Press release distribution websites like PRWeb allow you to publish your release online, placing it on dozens to hundreds of news and niche websites that pick up releases in a particular field. For Sappy Apps, the categories for the release distribution would be Mobile, Technology and Consumer Products. Choose only categories that are relevant to your product and company.

Journalists, bloggers and consumers alike read these press releases online. And for every site that posts your release, you get extra link juice (your website link appears on all these sites), which makes Google and search engines move your site up in search results.

Share It

Once your release is live online, host it on your website and blog, and share through your company social media channels for greater exposure. You can also use social bookmarking sites like BizSugar and StumbleUpon to get it in front of more readers.

Pitch It

Research the journalists and bloggers who are writing about your industry, and make a spreadsheet identifying the ones you’d like to approach with your story. First read through their articles so you get a feel for what stories they find interesting.

Then send them each a custom crafted email with a brief introduction to your company and your story, as well as a few bullet points of why your story is relevant to their readers. Include a link to the online press release, but do not cut and paste it or attach it as a document unless their bios specifically state they prefer that method.

Follow up a week later if you don’t hear back. Remember that journalists get hundreds of pitches a week, so work to ensure yours stands out.

 
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