While your small business may not have a team dedicated to public relations, you should be writing and submitting a press release from time-to-time. Press releases are the best way to inform traditional and non-traditional media sources about the latest news from your business, upcoming events, new products, and more.
It may seem like an unfamiliar world at first, but follow our four step guide and you will have a simple-to-use template for writing and submitting a press release.
4 Steps to Submitting a Press Release
1. Create a media database
A media database of list should contain all of the contact information for the media agencies in your industry. We recommend including both traditional media sources – newspapers, magazines, news stations – as well as non-traditional media sources – social media, bloggers, and other groups – into your media list.
Be sure to include the name of your contact person, name of the media outlet, their email address, phone number and physical address. Also, try to find a single person at each media outlet who most pertains to your niche and might take the most interest in your subject matter.
Traditional News Agencies
These outlets will include newspapers, magazines, television channels, and radio stations. Start by searching for “newspapers in (your city and state)” in order to build a list of relevant publications, seeking contact information for editors, writers and producers. You can also use sites like Hey.Press to search for journalists who write about your industry.
Non-Traditional News Sources
These include Facebook and LinkedIn groups, blogs, networking organizations, Twitter and Instagram accounts, and more. While these may not be considered traditional media organizations, they continue to grow in popularity and may be the perfect method for reaching your desired audience. Here’s how to identify them:
- Blogs: Search for relevant industry blogs in Google.
- Facebook and LinkedIn: Go to “groups” and search for your city name or topic and browse the various groups that have already been established.
- Instagram: Search within the “places” and “people” tabs in order to find relevant influencers for your business.
- Twitter: Search under the “Who to follow” section for relevant editors, journalists and popular accounts related to your business.
Before reaching out to these non-traditional media sources, do your research to ensure that they are relevant to your topic and audience. Also, check to see if they like to hear from brands and businesses. Most bloggers and social media influencers will indicate how they like to handle PR requests.
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2. Send your press release
When it comes time to send your press release, we strongly recommend sending personalized emails to each person on your media list. Here’s how to structure that email:
- Subject Line: You don’t necessarily need to include the words “press release” in your subject line, but you should mention the topic and/or most important part of your release.
- First Paragraph: If this is the first time you’re reaching out to this journalist, introduce yourself and the business you are representing.
- Second Paragraph: Explain why you are emailing them with a few key details from your release, and that you have included a press release below. You may also want to include something specific to this publication or journalist. Example: “I loved your recent piece on XXX. Given your interest in XXX, I’m writing to let you know about our new product release on Oct. 28th. I’ve attached a press release below with more details.”
- Third Paragraph: Include a call-to-action in the form of a question for the journalist to respond to your email. Example: “Do you have anything coming up where this may be a good fit?”
- Closing: Say thank you and offer to provide additional information if needed.
- Attachments: Attach relevant photos, logos or videos that the journalist may want to use in a story.
Keep your email short and sweet. Don’t forget to include your contact info in the body of the email or in your signature — specifically your phone number — so the journalist can easily get ahold of you with questions.
Some news outlets and blogs will have submission forms. Be sure to take a look at those and follow the guidelines precisely so that your release is considered for a possible story.
3. Follow-up on your press release
When pitching press releases, remember that most journalists and editors receive hundreds and thousands of releases per week. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t receive a response after your first email. It’s impossible for them to respond to every release they receive, but that doesn’t mean they won’t use your news in an upcoming story.
One follow-up tactic can be to call the news outlet (if it’s a traditional news agency) immediately after you send the release, to let them know it’s in their inbox and to share additional details. Or follow-up 2-3 days after you sent the release, via phone or email, confirming he/she received the release and asking if any confirmation details needed.
Remember, every journalist and news outlet has different preferences for following-up. Here are a few rules of thumb we have found success with in the past:
- Keep it Short and Sweet: A quick — “Hey there – did you see the release I sent over on Monday? Do you think it’s a good fit for your publication?” followed by a few bullet-pointed list of facts about your business — can be a great way to stay top-of-mind and relevant to the journalist.
- Don’t be Annoying: There’s a delicate balance between annoying and being helpful as you follow-up and form relationships with journalists. Stray away from multiple phone calls and daily follow-up emails. Instead, think about how you would like to be contacted if you were in their shoes.
- Let Some Time Pass + Don’t Give Up: Wait a few days after sending the original release to follow-up via phone or email. If you don’t hear back from them after a second or third follow-up attempt; don’t be discouraged. Chances are they still saw your name and some of your pitch; so continue to reach out to them with future news unless they ask you to stop pitching them.
- Provide Added Value Always: Every single time you reach out to a journalist or blogger, you should add additional value. Include new statistics, another quote, facts you didn’t include in the original release, new or timely information, etc. By doing so, you will make the journalist’s life easier when putting together a story, and give you extra brownie points.
Following up with journalists should not be skipped, as it’s a great way for them to learn your name, business, product, events, etc. While busy, journalists still value personal relationships from trusted sources.
4. Syndicate using a distribution tool
Submitting a press release through a syndication or distribution service can also explore it to a large amount of publications. This option costs money, but does put your release in front of many more journalists and news outlets than you could do on your own. A few syndication services to consider include PR Web, PR Newswire, eReleases, and Business Wire. Do your research to determine which is the best option for you.
Basic Elements to Include in a Press Release
Now that you know the how-tos of submitting a press release to the media, you may be wondering how to write it (which is arguably the most important part). Here are the basic elements to include in your upcoming release:
- A Compelling Headline: Journalist’s inboxes are cluttered to the max with press releases every single day. It’s imperative that you crafty a compelling and concise headline (that can also be your subject line) in order to stand out. Consider including bold statements or statistics that will grab attention and provoke curiosity.
- Informative Lead Paragraph: Kick-off your press release with the most important information about whatever you want to reader to know. Use straightforward and informative writing, providing the who, what, when, where and why. Skip fluffy jargon, and stick to the facts that make your release the most powerful.
- Facts + Figures: Include reliable, specific, and verifiable statistics whenever relevant. List them out in a bullet-point format so they are easy to read. Also make sure to cite them if they don’t come from your organization directly.
- Relevant Quotes: Be sure to include any relevant quotes from your founder, research team, event team, partners, and whoever else the journalist would be interested in including in a potential story. We recommend include 2-3 quotes per release.
- Contact and Background Information: Make sure your contact information can be found easily. Link to a website for more information and include an “About” section at the end of your press release that clearly describes your organization.
- Multimedia: Always include relevant logos, photos and videos for a potential story, so the editor doesn’t have to reply and ask for them.
If you’re curious about learning more about the mysterious world of public relations, don’t hesitate to reach out. We exist to help tell the very best version of your story, and we thrive on uncovering the most interesting parts of your business. Let’s grab a beer and explore which solutions may work best for your small business.