You’ve likely read the content of a press release before, but you may not have realized that your small business or organization can utilize press releases to announce new personnel, events and even products or services. Many mistakenly believe that press releases are reserved for large corporations, organizations and governments. While we certainly can’t guarantee that your press release will garner the same attention as a product announcement from Apple, they can still prove to be a valuable marketing resource when utilized properly and distributed to the proper channels.

A Press Release Is Not A Print Advertisement

The primary mistake that many small businesses make when it comes to press releases is mistaking a press release for a print advertisement. A press release is meant to notify the press of an important or noteworthy announcement, and it is not intended to primarily advertise a product or service. It is understandable if this point is confusing – when a company announces the release of a new product or service, are they not indirectly advertising that product or service? For instance, a website that covers personal technology may post an article announcing a new smartphone from one company with details sourced from a press release, while at the same time advertising a smartphone from another. Usually the article is posted without cost to the former company, while the advertisement requires a payment from the latter. Why is this fair? The key is understanding the concept of newsworthiness – the editor of the website decided that the product announcement from the first company was newsworthy enough to warrant an article, based on factors such as the popularity of the smartphone and any unique features exclusive to the newest model.

Ensure Your Release Is Newsworthy

Before you decide to compose and distribute a press release, take a step back and ensure that the content of your release is truly newsworthy. This doesn’t mean that it has to be newsworthy to the general public, but it should be newsworthy based on the existing standards of the publications in question – for instance, if you know that a local business journal considers local business expansions or relocations to be newsworthy, it is perfectly acceptable to distribute a press release announcing the same for your business or organization.

Choose Your Recipients Wisely

The concept of newsworthiness doesn’t just apply to the content of your press release, it also applies to the relevance and general appropriateness of the media outlets you choose as recipients. If your small business releases a new product or service, hires a new manager, or expands, it is doubtful that a nationally-prominent media outlet such as CNN or The New York Times will consider it newsworthy. Even prominent regional newspapers or television stations such as the Denver Post or 9NEWS may not consider your press release newsworthy either, but a local or regional business journal, community newsletter or even niche websites covering your particular industry or market may find it interesting or relevant enough to print. It’s always important to carefully and impartially consider the newsworthiness of your announcement – an executive hire isn’t newsworthy to a large or prominent media outlet, but a novel new invention or a unique or even outlandish product or service may just be newsworthy enough to print.

Be Interesting, Insightful And Concise

When writing and editing a press release, it is important to model your content as closely as possible after genuine, authentic news copy. This includes writing a catchy headline, including as much relevant information as you can in the first paragraph and properly utilizing quotes. You don’t have to be a trained copywriter in order to write an effective press release, but studying news articles and human interest stories can provide valuable insights into the proper way to compose your release – for instance, quotes are normally used to provide insightful commentary, and not as a means to directly convey facts. Finally, don’t try to pad your press release copy with unnecessary filler – if you want your release to be noticed, try to keep it as direct and concise as possible.