A press release is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways of getting your message out when you have a business announcement.
Today’s newsroom is a busy place. Editors are constantly looking for good stories, but they don’t have much time to find them. By learning more about what editors need, your business has a much better chance of being featured.
Studies have shown that half the content of most newspapers originates from press releases (also known as news releases). Everything from calendar items and news briefs to feature stories may have originally started as a tip from a press release.
Press releases are not advertisements. Some editors understand that much of the general public does not make distinctions between news and ads. On the other hand, many editors will be frustrated if you don’t understand the difference.
An ad is paid for. It runs in its own space, typically below the publication’s news and feature stories. Sometimes publications include a border, either with a line or white space, to differentiate between ads and news. Sales announcements and routine business information should be in paid ads.
Other types of information can be distributed in press releases. There is no charge for publishing this information. If your press release has a lot of fluff, hype language, or exclamation points, it will likely be dismissed by an editor as information that should be in a paid ad.
Consider the audience. The editor of a community newspaper is looking for stories that resonate with local readers. If you can take a national trend and connect it to your local company or service without distortion, you have a good story to tell. If you are providing a service that no one else in the area offers but lots of people would use if they knew about it, you have a good story to tell.
In this case, “think local” means think of the types of information that interest your friends and neighbors. If your announcement would interest them, then it may interest a local editor. Your press release should make it clear how this is of interest to local readers.
When you have information you want to share with the public about your business, first you should determine if the information is actually news; consider whether it is interesting to anyone besides yourself and your immediate family. What makes it interesting? Why are you excited about it? Why would someone else care about it? Make sure you know the answers to these questions before you sit down to write your press release.
Your press release should make it clear what is unusual, unique, or intriguing about whatever it is you are announcing. Press releases that are tied to something timely, such as an upcoming event, are more likely to get the attention of a local editor. Companies introducing new products, services, or projects also have a good chance of standing out among the news submitted.
Other types of information editors are seeking include the announcement of:
> Personnel matters: Hirings, promotions, awards, retirements of employees who have been with the company for many years.
> Anniversaries, such as a company’s 75th year in business, or other milestones or record-setting performances.
> Survey results or statistical data a company has collected that has relevance to the newspaper’s readership. Such information might be something readers either can use, a helpful tip, or something that makes the reader feel more informed.
> Worthwhile activities: Special projects a company or its employees have tackled to better their community and help those around them.
> New partnerships, mergers, or similar business activities.
> New construction or jobs.
Need an Angle?
Here are some possible news angle ideas for your press release:
> New location
> Moving location
> Expansion of facility
> New stylists/technicians/designers
> New services
> Unique services (such as a job-hunting makeover)
> Renovation of facility
> Fundraising event (such as Locks of Love, Breast Cancer Awareness Month)
> Awards/recognition for salon
> Employee awards/recognition
> New employee certifications
> Attendance at relevant major events (such as hair shows, beauty events)
> Trends in hair, nails, or spa services
> The economy: Has it affected your beauty business?
Jennifer Wezensky is president of JW Public Relations, a Michigan-based boutique PR firm specializing in helping small businesses garner positive media coverage. The new JW PR Toolkits series has the tools a nail technician or salon owner needs to create a “do-it-yourself” PR campaign on a shoe-string budget. For more information, visit www.jwprtoolkits.com.