One of the best forms of marketing is getting covered in the press. And one of the easiest ways to get mentioned in a newspaper, magazine or website is through a press release. In a press release, you can highlight what’s going on in your freelance or consulting business by publicizing a newsworthy event, service or product.
Although a press release serves to advertise a business, it is not simply an advertisement. It must have an angle of interest—some way to make it a news story that is relevant to your potential clients.
A press release is submitted by email directly to news sources or to press release services through their online forms. It can also be part of your company’s press kit. Editors, journalists, reporters and bloggers scan press releases for newsworthy items from which they can develop a story. That’s why it is a good idea to build personal relationships with influential writers in your niche or locale.
Step 1: Learn from the Best
Spend time at a few press release sites and review the releases they distribute. What characteristics of a press release grab your attention? What makes the story impressive or intriguing? Notice the headline, the copy, the topics and the stories. Notice what separates the great press releases from the mediocre ones. For more help on copy writing for press releases, see The Everything Guide to Writing Copy or Writing Effective News Releases.
Step 2: Pick a Topic
If you have concerns that nothing in your business is worth writing about, consider all aspects of your business when seeking a topic. Can anything be viewed from a newsworthy angle? Here are some topic ideas:
- Adding a new product line
- Adding a new service
- Hosting a business event
- Offering free reports
- Publishing articles or a book
- Getting endorsed by a well-known person in your region or on the national stage
- Starting or completing a high-profile project
- Starting a blog
- Teaching a new course
Step 3: Write the Press Release
Once you’ve reviewed other press releases and have selected a topic, it’s time to write. Below are some guidelines for writing and formatting your press release.
- Keep your press release to one page in length if it will be used for print only. When online, it can be longer.
- At the very top, place the words, “For immediate release.”
- Use an attention-grabbing headline with action verbs. Include keywords that potential clients might use in search engines to find your services. The headline is typically written in capital letters or in bold type.
- Elaborate on the headline with a sub-headline below it. Center both the headline and subhead.
- In the first paragraph, concisely sum up what you want the reader to know and then add what you want them to do. Many will not read past the first paragraph, so include your most important points there.
- Follow this with a few more paragraphs that expand on the press release’s theme.
- Reporters and readers find stories intriguing; include a brief personal story if you can. For example, a success story describing how your service or product benefited a client is one option.
- Finally, include your contact information so an editor or reporter can get in touch. Place the contact information at the top or bottom of the page.
Step 4: Edit the Press Release
When a press release is quickly scanned by editors, journalists and bloggers, they are more likely to use it if you’ve done most of the work for them. Check that the release includes the reporting basics: who, what, where, when, and why. Edit your press release for correct grammar, effective word choices and clear writing. Always keep your writing straightforward and simple.
Step 5: Submit the Press Release
There are paid and free press release distribution services online. As you might expect, you will usually get more options and a wider distribution network from the paid services. On the other hand, you might want so start with a free service to see if your press release gets picked up at no expense. In addition, if you think your press release is very newsworthy, consider bypassing the online services and go directly to local editors and reporters. If you are seeking regional clients, explore the potential of sending to regional news sources. Remember that you can also add press releases to your website.
A few services to get you started are listed below.
Free Services (some include paid plans with more options)
The next time you want to demonstrate the newsworthiness of your business, try a press release. If it has the right spin, it can be a quick and effective way to reach potential clients. And once you gain expertise in writing press releases, it’s another consulting service that you can offer to your clients.