If you’re just starting out, or have a limited marketing budget, you can sometimes feel helpless against the big chains that are spending millions of dollars marketing their brands.
The good news is, you can start getting the attention of local and national media through a simple press release. At PMQ Pizza Magazine, and really every publication I’ve worked with in the past, press releases were the first point of contact we had with many businesses, leading some to end up in the magazine, and even on the cover!
If you’ve never written a press release before, you can enlist the help of a professional, or try your hand at one yourself, using the steps below.
1. Decide what you’ll announce in your release. Are you having a grand opening, introducing a new menu, throwing a party, celebrating an anniversary? Your press release must announce a timely event, or the media will have no reason to run it as news.
2. Create a list of publications/editors you’ll send the release to. There’s a great resource online that links to all of the newspapers in the U.S., making it easy to select papers/editors to send to. Be sure to choose appropriate editors for your news (i.e., food editors, lifestyle editors, etc.). Looking for magazine contacts? Pull up the website of your favorite magazine and click on the contact us page. (TIP: When emailing releases to a group of editors, BCC the group; editors do not appreciate their email addresses shared with everyone.)
3. Find a template online or in MS Word. There are many online templates that allow you to just plug your information into them. Browsing what others have written will also help you perfect your style.
4. Include the most important information at the top. Journalism school teaches us to always tell the reader the “who, what, when, where, why” right away. You’ll want to grab the reader’s attention in the first paragraph. Editor’s receive a lot of mail and may not read your entire release. Give them the good stuff at the start.
5. Include your contact information. Don’t forget to put the best contact person at the top of your release, along with a couple of methods of contact (email, phone). If someone is interested in running your story, you want them to be able to contact you immediately.
6. Attach a relevant photo. Many times, editors are looking for last-minute news and your press release comes in at just the right time. If you’ve included a high-resolution image, you have a great chance of making it into the paper or magazine immediately.
7. Follow up. Editors are busy people; if you haven’t heard back from someone in a week or two, it’s perfectly acceptable to send one quick follow-up email. Most of us appreciate the reminder.
Have you had success with press releases? Let me know about it in the comments section below.