If you’ve got an extra-special event, a new product launch, or anything else exciting happening within your business, what’s your go-to way to spread the word about it?
For most small businesses, it’s posting about it on their Instagram grid or stories, throwing some money at a boosted post on Facebook, or maybe even tacking up some fliers on bulletin boards throughout the community. And while there’s nothing wrong with these strategies at all, one majorly effective marketing tool that so many businesses don’t even consider is simply writing up a press release for potential media coverage.
If you’ve never written a press release before, it might sound like a daunting task— but we’re here to let you know that getting your business covered by the media is actually way easier than you think. Plus, getting local news organizations to spread the word about your business for you is by far one of the most cost-effective marketing strategies out there right now. All it costs is the time it takes you to write.
So whatever your reason for wanting media coverage is, here’s what you need to know about writing an effective press release that’ll actually get noticed and— if all goes according to plan— picked up by the media:
Make Sure Your Topic is Newsworthy
First and foremost— why do businesses write press releases to begin with? And how do you know if your business’s special event is newsworthy enough?
A press release can literally cover any newsworthy topic that might be of interest to the media in general and/or independent journalists that might be willing to write a story on it. Not everything will get picked up and actually covered by the media, but you don’t know until you try!
To give you a better idea, here are a few common situations where a business might send out a press release for media coverage:
- Special events
- New product releases
- New business openings
- Awards received
- Changes in management
- Local community engagement
- And more!
The Anatomy of a Press Release – What to Include:
1 ) An eye-catching subject line: Want to know the best way to guarantee your email will get opened and your press release will get read? Simple: Hook them in with a subject line that’s impossible to ignore.
Okay, maybe don’t get clickbait-y with it— but having a strong email subject line is truly crucial because it’s the reader’s first peek into your press release. You could have a genuinely awesome and interesting press release attached, but if your subject line is lacking, that email’s never going to get opened. Sorry!
2 ) All of the necessary information: As SOB’s Co-Founder Emily Morrow says: Send. The. Info.
As a business owner, it’s up to you (okay, and maybe your social media/marketing team, if you have one) to spread the word about the latest and greatest things you’re doing in your business and in the community. If you decide to take the press release route, be sure to send all of the information that media outlets need to sufficiently cover your event or topic.
This could include:
- Your business/event name
- Date, time, location, if it’s an event
- Ticket/registration cost, if applicable
- What is included in the cost of the ticket/registration
- Any freebies/other enticing details
- Any local sponsors
- Your business’s website & social media links
- Contact info for additional questions
Pro Tip: Ask a friend to read over your press release before you send it off to see what questions they might still have as a customer. Is everything as clear as it could be? What questions might still need to be answered?
3 ) Body copy that’s easily copy-and-paste-able: If you don’t work in the media industry, you might not think about this small detail, but it’s actually super important. Sending your press release as an editable Word Doc versus a PDF could make it more likely to get picked up.
Why? Simply put: We’re all busy AF. If the receiver has to re-write all of the information you’ve included on your press release, chances are, they’re not going to.
4 ) Put your best foot forward with great photos: Even after you’ve finished writing your press release, you’re not quite finished yet. The final step before sending is including a handful of high-quality photos for media outlets to use if they do decide to move forward with promoting your event.
At Step Out Buffalo, we’re pretty big on teaching businesses how to take amazing photos with the equipment (read: the smartphone) you already have. Here are a few of our best tips when it comes to choosing photos to go along with your press release:
- Always send original photos – NOT stock photos! There’s a time and place for stock photos, but original photos from your business will get you so much farther.
- Make sure your photos are high-quality. Many websites and outlets with larger platforms have a standard for the size and quality of images they can and can’t accept. If your photos are dark, blurry, too small, or just low-quality in general, they’re probably not going to make the cut.
- Don’t just send an event flier! If you’re looking for a write-up on your business or even just a social media post from a larger news outlet, images crowded with text on a solid color background aren’t enticing enough to promote an event or business. Save those for the community bulletin boards!
Still at a loss for how to take high-quality, attention-grabbing photos? Check out some tips directly from a handful of other local WNY businesses in our article 12 Local Businesses That Take Amazing Instagram Photos (& How to Do the Same for Free).
Video courtesy of Ten Lives Club, who sends Step Out Buffalo press releases for all of their fundraising events
Send Your Press Release to the Right Person
Once you’ve checked all of the boxes above, it’s time to send your press release far and wide for all to read. But wait— who should you send it to?
Here’s where a bit of research can go a long way. Instead of blasting a ton of generic “info@” email addresses, only to have your awesome press release lost in the void, try to see if you can find a specific person to connect with at each individual organization you send a pitch to. That way, even if they’re not the right person for that particular story, they can always pass you along to the person that is.
Pro Tip: Personalize It! Once you take the 10-15 minutes to find each contact, make sure each email you send is at least slightly personalized. Not only does this help you come off as more friendly than a cold, monotonous, copy-and-pasted pitch would (there’s another human on the other side of the screen you’re talking to, after all) but it makes you more memorable as a whole. And if you’re able to foster a genuine relationship with this contact, even if this pitch doesn’t end up panning out, it could open some doors for collaborations and partnerships in the future. You never know!
What to Do If Your Press Release Gets Picked Up
If all goes according to plan and your press release gets picked up by the media, your job still isn’t quite finished. But the last step is easy— once the story, article, listing, or social media post is live, just share it out with your audience!
Not only does this make you look like an awesome business to work with, but it also helps keep the buzz going about your event. Think of it as a “second wave” of distribution and a way to reach an even wider audience than you might have before.
Have Questions for Us About Getting Your Business Covered by the Media?
Whether you’re looking to advertise with Step Out Buffalo specifically or want more information on how to get more eyes on your business in the WNY community, feel free to reach out to us.