October 15, 2021

Good PR is an amazing help to the small businessperson or salesperson. One well placed article in a trade journal or any publication that your potential customers reads can be worth thousands of dollars if you wanted to advertise and get that same space. Here is some advice to help you write press releases and deal with the press to get published.

A Letter FROM The Editor

Your guide to getting more press both online and off. Think of it as “a letter FROM The Editor”:

All editors are really busy, so…

Rather than sending me a flyer(s) please send a complete / prepared press release written in the third person. Here is the “why” for each of these points plus a few more tips:

1.) Don’t bother sending an Editor a flyer: Flyers that are in JPG or PDF format have to be “transcribed”. We can’t “cut and paste” a flyer to make it into a newspaper article or website article. Flyers and articles are two different things. When someone sends us a flyer about their event, we either have to re-type and re-format the flyer into an article or pay someone to go in and re-type and re-format your information (and you’ve already had someone type it anyway).

So the best practice is to assign someone the job of writing Press Releases for and about any news or events you have coming up in plain text format. The great thing about having a plain text description of your news or event on hand is that once it is done, you can simply cut and paste that message into emails or letters and send it off to your growing list of editors and press contacts.

You can also use that same text over and over for your web site and for flyers. But don’t bother sending a flyer to a press contact. Rather, just use flyers for physical distribution to your stakeholders and employees or members to post wherever appropriate. Flyers are a different medium and not effective for press purposes.

2.) Here is another reason that press releases should be written in plain text format: Just because you like green bold type and big stars, doesn’t mean that the newspaper or web site you’re writing to does. They want to format articles in their own format, with their own pictures, colors, and fonts. So writing your press release in plain text and sending it off that way makes the job of formatting (to his style) very easy for an editor. Using MS Word is generally ok but not as good as plain text like in an email.

3.) Add a photo and your logo if you have one: If you have a photo(s) and/or organization logo, attaching them to your email is a good practice as well. Here too, consider the medium…

• For print publications, you should send high resolution photos (but try to stay under 3 or 4 megabytes).
• If it is a web publication you should keep the photo under 1 megabyte in size. Web sites don’t need high resolutions like print publications do.

These are good rules to learn about and follow because they save the editor time. Pictures often have to be formatted and resized for publication so if you or someone on your team can format those images for an editor you increase your chances of getting published.

4.) The press release should use the following format in general without the [ignore the brackets]:

[FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - ]These words should appear at the top left of the page, in upper case. If you don’t want the story to be made public yet, write ["HOLD FOR RELEASE UNTIL ....]“ instead.

Headline: Just like a newspaper headline; keep it simple but descriptive.

Body of Story: CITY, ST — Month/Date/Year — Full text of story.  It’s good to include line spaces.

Also, Include a quote or two from leaders or constituents.

Mr. SoAndSo, stated, “This is going to be a real exciting event.  We can’t wait.”

Make sure that you include:

Who: is behind the event
What: the event is about and most importantly…
When: the event is going to be held and
Where: including the full address and phone number of the venue.

We receive a lot of requests for articles about events without all the information necessary to guide a potential participant to get there.  Now, if we want to publish your press release we have to have someone call and leave messages, etc.  You’d be surprised at how often Editors receive incomplete information! Often these are just ignored.

Organization Info: Finally, add a few lines about the organization, company, or people featured in the press release.

Contact Information: Simply list a person(s) to contact for more information including an email and phone number

[ENDS] or[ ###]: This is the end of the press release and is a generally understood format for editors.

5.) Don’t bother sending an incomplete story. If you don’t have all the information yet and want to give people an advance notification then issue a short but complete press release including all the information you have up until that point (three or four weeks ahead of time). Then when you have the full details ready, within a week or two of the event, send off a completed press release in one email or letter.

Editors want to be able to copy & paste a complete edited story in one fell swoop. If we have to keep going back and forth making edits and corrections because the story isn’t complete when we receive it, we end up ignoring that story. But worse, many editors will ignore future communications from you because they won’t want to deal with three or four edits to do one story over and over.

6.) Press releases should be written in the third person so that the editor doesn’t have to go in and change every “we” to “they” or “I” to “he”. You will make an editor’s job so much easier by writing your press releases in the third person for him. He will look forward to your future submissions and publish them much more quickly.

7.) Don’t try to sell in a press release; make your article newsworthy. Editors constantly receive self serving “press releases” from amateurs who are trying to promote products. That is an advertisement and should be directed to an ad salesperson. Don’t do that to an Editor. You have to constantly be on the lookout for how your product, service, or idea relates to current news. If you can find that angle, then issue a press release. Or, better, just get in the habit of issuing a regular column dedicated to advice or information related to your specialty. Editors are generally happy to find people who can write well on topics of interest to their readers. If you are a specialist in the local real estate market and can contribute weekly or monthly on market conditions, an Editor might love to have you write regularly. If you are health and fitness guru, or just the most knowledgeable person on how to make widgets fit into wodgets, and have information to share with the WodgetWorldOnline.com, then you may be the kind of person they’d like to feature regularly. But as soon as you begin harping on the benefits of your company or products, you will lose the attention of your Editor.

8.) It’s really a good idea to assign the job of Press Relations to one or maybe two responsible individuals. Any more than that can cause confusion and a loss of credibility.

Remember that editors and community web site managers want your news. They are anxious to find newsworthy news and dependable sources. But with a daily or weekly publication deadline, you can’t find a busier kind of person and everything you do for them makes it more likely that your press release will be prioritized before others’.

About the Author Joe Alagna

Joe Alagna is the Managing Broker for CauseWell Insurance Services based in Chino Hills, California. As independent brokers, CauseWell Brokers shop for the best insurance and best prices for your car, home, business, and your life. You can reach Joe by visiting: www.CauseWell.com or sending an email to: [email protected].