How to Develop and Leverage an Effective Press Release

Advertisements

A press release, when leveraged properly, can be a highly effective marketing tool for businesses of all sizes. Prior to the Internet, a press release was mailed out to editors and reporters at leading magazines, newspapers and broadcast stations, followed up by an aggressive PR person trying to gain coverage for some new product, service or event. Beyond this attempt to gain free publicity, a press release was not terribly effective at promoting a business or its brand.

Today, however, with the power and ubiquity of the Internet, a press release opens up a whole new world of branding/marketing opportunities to businesses of all sizes. Furthermore, if you know how to appropriately craft one yourself, it costs you nothing. In addition to the potential print and broadcast news value, a press release today (whether newsworthy or not) will likely wind up on national and international news distribution services sharing your news with media, investors, potential customers and the like, the world over. All you need to do is develop an effective press release and post it online at a number of free press release distribution sites (listed later).

Just this May, I entered into a partnership with a New Jersey-based Public Relations firm and promoted the news through such a press release. To our surprise, with the power of the free online news services, our press release wound up on CNBC online, Investor’s Business Daily online, Forbes.com and a slew of other lesser-known news sites. Wow! Isn’t that something? With the following simple headline, my partner and I were able to get tremendous visibility for our two firms: “FastLane (www.fast-lane.net) and Winning Message (www.winningmessage.com) Form Alliance to Offer Strategic Messaging and Positioning Services”. Combined, these leading news sources I mentioned above that covered this story account for tens of thousands of online visitors. This means that the names of our two companies were at the very least seen by thousands of eyeballs. Not too bad, huh?

Here’s how to develop an effective press release:

Based on the hundreds of press releases I have developed over my 13 year PR career, here is my winning formula for developing these marketing vehicles…

A. Intro paragraph – starts with a short statement describing the news itself followed by a statement describing, quantifying or qualifying the value of the news
Examples (these are not actual headlines and are for demonstration purposes only):
–WidgetMaker Inc. today announced the world’s first water-based widget that helps manufacturers increase production time by as much as 10 percent. WidgetMaker’s new Widget-H20 speeds the assembly-line process by…
–Jackson Candy company announced today it has acquired Gail’s Gumballs for $750M creating the world’s only full-service wholesale gumball distributor. The combined organization now has a national network of distributors that are able to service every city in the country…
–ABC Real Estate just sold its 750th house this month, marking the record in Boise Idaho for the most number of homes sold. ABC believes this record validates its ability to successfully sell anyone’s home in 30 days or less. The company’s success lies in its innovative approach to home staging and listing, whereby ABC…

B. Second paragraph – Elaborate on the value specified in statement two of the intro paragraph. Further describe the uniqueness of the event, service, product, etc. Be succinct but complete – giving the reader enough information to determine whether or not to seek additional information from the company or companies listed.

C. Quote – Include a quote or two from a leading executive with the firm or firms listed in the introductory paragraph. The quote should add some additional value to the story by offering another perspective on the news, talking further about the use or application of the new product or service, etc.

D. Final paragraph – List any pertinent pricing, distribution or contact information that will enable the reader to take further action if interested. This includes stores where the product or service can be purchased, stock symbols of the newly formed company, website links, etc. Phone numbers and email addresses should be listed separately at the top or bottom of the press release under a “contact” section.

E. About the company – Provide a paragraph describing each company featured in the press release and expounding upon its full set of products or services, industries served, etc.

You may have heard somewhere that a press release needs to be longer than this, but let me tell you that it simply won’t be read by anyone if it is any longer. Frankly, most readers won’t even get beyond your intro paragraph. That is why it is so imperative to include the real juicy news in those opening statements.

Once you have developed your press release and had it checked for clarity and grammar by a friend or colleague, post it for free at one or more of the following sites (just a sampling) to gain wide-spread visibility to clients, prospects, investors and more:

–PR.com
–free-press-release.com
–24-7pressrelease.com
–prlog.org
–prfree.com

By Kevin B. Levi
www.winningmessage.com
www.muckrakeronline.com

Comments

  1. Arun,

    Thanks for the feedback. Yes the intro paragraph should set the stage nicely for expounded upon juicy content to follow. I for one don’t really like including executive quotes because I’ve found that editors and other readers don’t even read them. But I’m with you that typically they are used and I too have seen them effectively used at the beginning and end of the document.

    Best,
    Kevin

  2. Arun Agrawal says

    Hi Kevin

    Nice tips – specially the one about the intro para. This can easily be the skeleton which can be wrapped with some juicy content to create a winning press release.

    I have found that giving a quote at the end of para 1 and one near the end as a concluding remark work very well. Since a press release has to be typically written in the third person, the quotes are useful to address the reader directly.

  3. Kevin — You’ll laugh when I tell you that a Google Alert about your bogus headline ‘WidgetMaker Inc. today announced the world’s first water-based widget…’ is what led me to read your article.

    I’m truly interested in widgets, but I’m also delighted to have read your article on press releases. Especially appreciate the tips about the free online services… I’ve been paying for distribution and wondered whether there was a cheaper way to disseminate our news. Many thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    ~ Franke

  4. William,

    Leverage the framework in my article and base your intro paragraph on the value your book will bring to your customers. Talk less about the features of your book and talk more about the benefits.

    Post it on the free PR distribution sites I mention in the article.

    If you want me to write and post if for you please visit my site and contact me – http://www.winningmessage.com

    Thanks for the feedback and I hope this helps!

    NOTE: One of my primary clients right now is an author of a sales success book and I’m helping him with press release, articles, website copy and more.

  5. William Profet from OneJobTwoSalaries.com says

    Hi Kevin,

    This is a very useful post. I have written an e-book (“One Job Two Salaries. How to Double Your Salary in One Single Day and Not Even Tell Your Boss.”) and I’ve just wondering how to prepare a press release and where to post it.

    Thank you!
    William

  6. Franke that is quite funny! I can’t believe they extracted that line and made it a headline.

    Anyhow, glad to help!

    Kevin

  7. It was a Google Alert. They extract the keywords ‘widget marketing’… See below:

    How to Develop and Leverage an Effective Press Release
    By Kevin Levi
    -WidgetMaker Inc. today announced the world’s first water-based widget that helps manufacturers increase production time by as much as 10 percent. WidgetMaker’s new Widget-H20 speeds the assembly-line process by… …
    Small Business Branding And Marketing – http://www.smallbusinessbranding.com

  8. Franke,

    That’s awfully funny. Thanks for sharing!

    Kevin

  9. Kevin,

    Your example is a hackneyed example of the press release and I’m surprised the PR industry given all its talent cannot see beyond this format.

    I believe a press release that looks like any other release is a waste, mainly because of the internet and the overfamiliarisation of this format. Why must every release start with “WidgetMaker Inc. today announced” or “WidgetMaker Inc. launched”??

    Since press releases don’t serve their original purpose – encouraging editors to explore – it’s hard to understand why the modern press release is not designed to meet the cut-and-paste requirements of today’s lacklustre editor. Why can’t it read like an editorial piece?

    “Fifteen years ago, Bob Brown founded an 8-man operation he called Widgets Inc. which produced thermal widgets for people who didn’t know when to switch off their computers. Today they make over $10 million a year selling superwidgets like the new Omnitron 8, a class of ultra-compact energy saving add-ons.”

  10. You’re so right that the Internet changes the way we should be writing press releases. As a publicity expert, I am inundated with questions about this topic.

    So I created a free email course called “89 Ways to Write Powerful Press Releases.”

    I explain why we should no longer be writing press releases only for the press, but for consumers who can find the releases online, click through to our websites and enter our sales cycle, even if journalists don’t think our release is worthy of attention.

    The course includes several terrific press release samples as well as “before” and “after” makeovers.

    You can sign up for the free press release writing tutorial at http://www.PublicityHound.com/pressreleasetips/art.htm

    It’s a very long tutorial but please stick with it. By the time you’re done, it will be like earning a master’s degree in writing and distributing press releases. And you’ll know more about this topic than many PR people.

  11. Just discovered this post, I run a Free Press Release Blog – http://www.PressAbout.com – and am constantly amazed at the lack of care taken by some people when submitting press releases. It is definitely worth the time to take a bit of care when composing a press release!

  12. Joan,

    A course is much needed on this topic!

    Thanks for the comment.

    Kevin

  13. Free Press Release – thanks for the comment. Interesting site!!