Along with networking and asking for referrals, PR is pretty essential if you want to grow your business. PR is short for both ‘public relations’ and ‘press releases’. Press releases are more commonly known as ‘news releases’ now, as you can send releases to media other than newspapers, magazines and trade journals, such as local and national radio and TV, and online PR distributors.
In fact, PR is a huge field, and falls in the ‘too good to be true’ category for many! Your business can get a lot of coverage for free if it’s done properly and sent to targeted media. In addition, you begin to build get more credibility because you’ve been featured rather than appearing in an ad which people know you’ve paid for.
Start positioning yourself as an expert in your industry – decide to be the expert in your trade that the media turn to when they want a quote. It will get easier each time you do it. Whatever type of business you’re in, you’re an expert in something and some group out there will want to hear from you.
For example, say you import motorbikes from Japan: you are an expert on motorbikes and can position yourself as such… get known through motorbike magazines (tips on buying the best model for your needs, etc) and mainstream media (‘What your motorbike says about you’). You can also be seen as an expert on both global trade and Japan, so you can put yourself forward to every publication, radio and TV station in the world.
Why write a news release?
News releases are an ideal way to gain free publicity. You can use them on their own or as part of a campaign. The disadvantage of news releases is that you can’t guarantee they’ll be used. If you have to get your release in, consider paying for advertising space.
Follow these steps for maximum impact, and you’ll be more likely to get your news release published or heard on the news. Before you start, know why your story is important, and know how your story can be of interest to the readers (and the journalist who’s deciding whether to use the piece).
And know where you want to send it – make sure the receiving organisation will be interested. Try local papers, magazines, radio and TV, and trade magazines. Consider regional, national and international outlets if it’s very newsworthy. Look to online press releases (try PR Web, for example), and don’t forget to email your ‘list’. Your ‘list’ is the list of prospects and clients you have – and you’re hopefully sending them a regular newsletter to remind them of who you are.
Keep to one page (A4 or letter) if you can. If you have to go onto a second page, type ‘M/F’ (‘more follows’) at the end of page one, and ‘News Release Continued’ at the top of page two. At the very end of the release write ‘Ends’ or ‘# # #’.
Use the header space to write ‘News Release’ and follow it with the date it can be used (for example, ‘For immediate release’, or ‘For release on January 13’). Follow this with your company name, and your logo if you have one. If you’re sending your release via email, make sure the logo is attached in a common format such as.jpeg or.gif.
Now write an eye-catching headline (see the section on direct mail for more on how to do this). Use capital letters for the headline. Follow this with a sentence that tells the whole story in brief: this is in case they only have room to use a ‘filler’ rather than a full release. Pretend someone is asking the who, what, why, when, how questions, and answer them in this paragraph.