Women at Work: Press releases work if you do it right

February 3, 2019

With The Granary closing due to the diagnosis of breast cancer and having to recover from surgery, I decided the need to grow my virtual assistant business would help alleviate the onset of boredom. Most of my clients now are recipe bloggers whose requirements of me surround social media management. While social media management had a learning curve to it, let me tell you, pinning hundreds of pins a week gets a little mind-numbing.

Two weeks ago, I took on a new client that has my brain functioning again. It utilizes my variety of skills in a wide manner. What began as social media management has transitioned to event planning, sales calls, software training and much more.

To announce this new partnership, the owner of the company wants press releases written and submitted. At first I thought this was rather old school, but really, press releases produce results.

It has been several years since I had written a press release, but as I wrote it, I realized that business people should know how to or learn how to write one.

The first question you should ask yourself when deciding whether something warrants this type of announcement is this, “Is it newsworthy?” Tory Haskell of Constant Contact wrote, “For something to be newsworthy, it must be something that audiences outside of your internal organization will care about; something that has significance to a reporter and their readers, viewers or listeners.”

When determining if your news is newsworthy, keep these factors in mind:

Impact: Who will this information affect? The broader and larger the impact, the more people will be interested.

Timeliness: Why does this information matter now? Does your news relate to or tie back to a significant “moment in time” or event of some sort?

Proximity: As a small business, this one should be easy to understand. For many small businesses or nonprofits, your news will likely matter more to local publications than to national ones, or publications that focus on other regions.

Name recognition: Clout that comes with big recognizable names (well-known people, organizations, companies, etc.) will likely increase the interest in your news. If you are partnering with, or involved with a big name that might generate this type of attention, consider issuing a press release.

Haskell shares the four major components of an effective press release:

1. The headline should be attention-grabbing and encourage the reader to want to know more, while also being explanatory. This is not the time to use vague language.

2. The body of the press release should stay as concise as possible, while making sure to get all of the important information across in an engaging manner. Reporters that read your release aren’t likely going to have the time to read page after page trying to understand the news. There is no specific length a press release should be, just make sure that you have all the relevant information included.

3. The boilerplate, or the “about us” section, is where you provide background on your organization. It should be included following the body of every press release. The language here can be the same in every release. Don’t forget to link to your company homepage to drive readers back and provide more information.

4. Contact information is crucial! Without it, where will readers know where to go to get more information?

A press release is used as a foundation of a public relations campaign and will work when you get the information in the right hands, but it has to be well-written to begin with.

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