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The Press Release--Make It Part Of Your Marketing Plan

In our fast-paced digital age, anyone doing some kind of business is well-aware that the use of internet-based platforms such as social media, websites and email marketing are vital components to driving search engine traffic in order to build brand awareness. However, it is also important not to lose sight of the fact that traditional marketing tools, namely print advertising, is not going away any time soon. As long as there continues to be a demand for newspapers, magazines, journals, etc., there will continue to be a need for the Press Release to generate articles of consumer interest to a vast population.

Whether it's an open house, fund-raiser, merger, product launch, rebranding or any other vital news that a company desires to share to get the word out to the community, the Press Release remains a valuable means by which to attain exposure through the help of traditional media. Help is the key word, though, in the sense that a publisher can get a message into print, but only as long as the publisher deems it has some kind of worth or interest to the general public. Seems easy enough, right? Make it compelling enough to catch the reader's interest. Er...yes and no. As a businessperson writing a press release you must make the message compelling to the journalist in order that the journalist can make it compelling to the reader. But how, you ask? Tell an informative story. Think of the famous line spoken by Joe Friday of the ever-popular police series, Dragnet, "Just the facts, maam." Just like a news story, a press release needs to contain the important facts along with some embellishing details that can be translated into an article of interest. If it reads like a sales pitch, it will end up lining the bottom of an editor's wastebasket.

In order to capture the media's attention to your Press Release the first step is to understand that it must have a particular format. There is no guarantee that your release will be picked up because it is competing with other stories, however you will increase its chances of consideration by adhering to the following guidelines:

1. Include an attention-grabbing headline. Similar to the title of a news article, the attraction starts with a captivating headline. Keep it succinct but with enough information that will assure an editor you are thinking like a writer rather than a marketer. This is the very beginning of building an inverted pyramid of knowledge starting with the most basic who, what, where, when why and how.

2. Date of Release: Depending on time constraints that is up to whomever is managing the marketing campaign. Although, it is strongly recommended that you choose a day or two ahead to give the media source time to craft a good article. For big events and launches, schedule multiple releases.

3. Contact Information and City of Release: Make sure to use company letter head with contact info indicated to the left. Identify the city in which the news will take place, at the start of the body of the announcement.

4. Compelling Lead Sentence: Your introductory sentence should be as captivating as the headline and contain a summary of all the essential information.

5. The Body of the Press Release: Include one or two paragraphs with supporting details. Be careful not to go overboard with specifics since the purpose is to provide the media with just enough data with which to fashion into an interesting and succinct news announcement.

6. Background or bio of company or noteworthy individual: The only other aspect of the PR that is as important as the news event is the subject of the news event. Devote the last paragraph of the release to spotlighting the company, organization or individual that is responsible for making the news. Whether it is indicating the accomplishments of a significant individual or the history and contributions of a corporation, it lends a great deal of credibility and importance that will serve to further pique the media's interest in what you have to offer to their readership. Create a template for future releases in which the background information remains constant until it needs to be updated.

7. Make it personal: In addition to a bio or background, get permission to add a relevant quote by an influential person involved with this news event. It provides a human quality and connection that enhances the story. Remember that it is important that you tell a story, not advertise, even though your goal is to influence consumerism through community exposure.

8. Signal the end: It's simple. Add three hashtags (###) to indicate the end of your release. But don't stop there. Be sure to reread and correct any grammatical errors, misspellings or other inaccuracies. The presentation of your PR is an immediate reflection of your image as a professional. Plan ahead to make certain you are leaving a lasting and positive impression.

9. Length and Language: Keep it to 1-2 pages and use simple language that can be easily understood by a general audience.

10. Relevancy and locality: Choose media sources that are in the surrounding community and share your interests. Keep it local and find publications that are vested in similar topics they believe will draw their readership. It's also important to get acquainted with some of the local journalists in order to get feedback on whether your release will or has been picked up for publication. This will also increase the chances of your news getting published because your business becomes familiar and trusted among the news community.

By following these guidelines your Press Release stands a very good chance of getting picked up by your local media, especially by those publications that make it their business to post news from other businesses that they find relevant to their subscribers. Of course, it is up to you to determine whether a Press Release will be useful to your Marketing Plan. Many choose to go strictly digital because that yields them the most exposure. Nevertheless, it certainly can't hurt to include a Press Release when you consider that in the present day there are still plenty of people who choose to get their news from print media. If you choose not to include a press release you may be missing out on reaching a significant sector of the population that prefers to get their news from paper and ink. Like other forms of traditional marketing still used today such as newsletters, brochures, flyers and business cards, the press release remains a tried-and-true component for driving new business. Make it part of your marketing plan.

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