A great way to sell your product or service — without spending a dime of your advertising budget — is to send newsworthy press releases to magazines, newspapers, and radio/TV stations. In fact, much of the “news” that you see or hear every day has been pulled off of press releases. Instead of digging for material themselves, overworked editors are more than happy to use stories that come to them. But they don’t print just any old press release.
The key word, here, is “newsworthy.” Your press release must communicate something of real value. Something that is new, different, better, stronger, or faster. Information that will make an editor think his readers (or listeners) will feel better informed. That’s why press releases that do nothing but blatantly promote a company end up in the trash. Boring, badly written releases share the same fate.
Writing a good press release is as easy as writing a short newspaper article. And when you think about how many newspapers you’ve read in your life, you can see that you already have a lot of experience with the form and structure of press releases. Press releases, like news articles, are written in the “upside-down-pyramid” style.
The most-important information (the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” of the story) is stated first and is followed by supporting information and relatively less-important details. That’s because you want your readers (the editors you’re going to send your releases to) to get the meat of your story by reading one or two lines. Then, if they want to know more, they’ll read the rest.
Here’s how you do it:
1. List your name, company name, telephone, fax number, and e-mail address in the top left corner. This makes it easy for an editor to call you if he needs more information. And it makes it easy for him to include your contact info in the piece he’s going to write about you — and for his audience to reach you directly. (Which is exactly what you want.)
2. Write your headline. This is going to tell the whole story — and pique your reader’s interest. Surefire ways to begin are “How to . . .,” “Announcing . . .,” and “A breakthrough discovery in . . .”
3. Now that you’ve gotten your reader’s attention with your headline, you have to give him a reason to keep on reading your press release. So, in your opening statement, you tell him why your product/service is important — how it’s going to benefit his audience (your target market).
4. Pile on supporting information. Surveys and polls give instant credibility to a story, because pollsters are usually perceived as neutral, impartial people who just report the facts. So, if at all possible, include some statistics to prove that there’s a real need for your product/service.
5. Then, fire away! Remember that you want to provide enough information to communicate something of real value to potential clients/customers — but not so much that they won’t need you.
That said, there are three things you should NEVER put in your press release:
1. Hype. Street-smart editors can smell an opportunist from the get-go. Self-serving press releases that offer nothing of value end up in the trash.
2. Unsubstantiated claims. Always come across as a credible source of information. If you make a claim, you must prove it. Surveys, polls, and “expert” opinions work especially well in press releases because they add credibility to your message.
3. Industry jargon. One sure way to turn off editors is to use language they’re unfamiliar with. Make it easy for them to understand the points you’re trying to make.
(Ed. Note: The above is just one way that AWAI teaches students of its resume-writing program to market their services. For more information about the complete resume-writing program, click on http://www.myresumebiz.com/etrpd.)[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]