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How to do a Press Release (And let the world know!)

When other websites write about your brand it leads to awareness, traffic and sales. If the website links to you that helps your SEO. A press release makes it easy for writers to publish stories about you.

Some people call this kind of write up online PR. It boosts your traffic and helps you rank higher on Google. The endorsement of a respected voice in the form of a link tells Google that your site is trusted and quality, readers are far more likely to buy from a write up than a sales pitch. Getting features can be quite straightforward if you stick with a few simple tactics.

Make sure you have a quality story that’s relevant to the publication you are approaching. Demonstrate the relevance in a personal email. If you have a story and they write about this kind of stuff, you will get a free write up.

Successful brands appear regularly in blogs, magazines and news sites. Those articles don’t just magically come to the brands – there is normally an active person behind them connecting the story to the writers that specialise in relevant topics. To get started writing a great press release, first understand the recipient.

Your average feature writer or journalist is probably in an office on their computer facing a deadline. They need to come up with fresh, new content for their publication within a theme or topic that they are assigned to and ideally relate it back to current affairs or their magazine’s stance on an issue.

Quality is more important than quantity. Take your time and tailor what you send depending on who you are sending it to.

Most journalists are smart and busy. If you want them to write about you free, put in some work to structure your plan around what helps them and makes their life easier. If you can give them a story that is the kind of story they need, many journalists will take your press release and build their article around it. If they are online they will link to the source, your website. That means it’s potentially easy to get features, for free, that help you build traffic and search engine results.

Make sure it’s relevant

The content must be relevant to the writer. Not just to the magazine, but also the blogger, writer or editor you are approaching. Research the people behind the articles by looking at the writing credits. Journalists and bloggers are often open to approaches if the content is quality and relevant, so contact details are normally easy to find. Read what they write, and send them similar stuff. If a person curates the fashion section of a city tabloid, send them some great quality pictures of your product with a short description and explain why they

It should be newsworthy

Make sure your story is a story. You can add some extra flair by making it relevant to current affairs or talking points in the news, niche or industry that the writer publishes in. For example, a paraglider magazine will write about a cool new range of paraglider t-shirts. Even better if they contain a message about safety, if safety in Paragliding is a hot topic one year. Make sure whatever story you send, it’s interesting, thought-provoking and newsworthy.

Example: Michael Fish Base Jump

Here’s a successful feature we did with our own brand. The story was distributed by Press Release, with accompanying pictures and video.

This story was featured in most of the national newspaper’s online edition. You don’t need a video, a few photos and a great story will always trump an amazing, but an irrelevant video – no matter how slick the production.

Quality is a minimum standard

If your press release has typos or grammatical mistakes, has a waffly script or opinionated statements it’s in the bin. Read your story out loud. Stick to the facts too, and stats are great – so long as you can cite the source. Anything that is your opinion, put in italics so the writer can see it is a quote that they can use.
Write your press release, in short, punchy sentences. Add some stats, a couple of quotes and get the headline right. It’s important to choose a headline that doesn’t include the brand name or any information that only people familiar with the story already would understand. Instead of “Bobs Brand launches the Infinity Collection” the headline should be written as though it is kept in a public record, i.e. “Eco brand creates a real-time supply chain.” The story is first, the brand gets a mention later.

Don’t spam, lead the email

Writers are real people. If you just spam them, they will know and they will delete your email without reading it. When you do your research, find out who the best writer in the publication is, and get their name. Then write them a personal email. What human wouldn’t like to know that someone has noticed their work? Write about how the articles of theirs that you have read inspired you to contact them with a feature they might want a look at. Attach the story and two good photos, and copy the press release under your message in the body of the email.

Tip: Don’t bother a journalist near a deadline. Send your press release earlier in the week, mid-morning.

Let them add their magic

Back in the day, a manufacturer looked at housewives and found they spent ages on pudding mix when they could just have it in a packet, saving them time. But they didn’t buy into it. Bernays came up with a scheme where he advised the manufacturer to remove the egg and then marketed the puddings as “just add an egg” – the feeling of cracking and mixing the egg made the buyer feel like they were doing something.

Don’t send a finished article. The journalist is there to do a job and if you stop them adding to your framework, you’ll shut the feature down. Send a concise, factual summary of the story and they will work their magic and add more words, to shape the piece into whatever they feel is appropriate for their publication. The worst thing would be to send too much spiel, they’re not your editor!

Keep a press release at max to one side of A4.

How to find contacts

Like your customer database, your list of journalists is an asset – the value depends on what is in it. If you have built a relationship with a small number of writers who trust your content, they may even start asking you for a comment on a relevant story. That’s really valuable: Worth much more than 1000 email addresses for reporters who have blocked you.

There’s no shortcut to this part, you just have to roll up your sleeves and put in the time.

Finding names is easy: Buy their publication, read it and look at the top of the article. In magazines, there’s often an “editorial” email address inside the front cover. And if you have a reporters name, most have twitter: Write up the story on your blog and post regularly about it on a hashtag, and tweet it to journalists.

Get started!

Write a press release, build a database and start sending introductions. And remember, you will not hear back from the vast majority of emails you send. Don’t be put off: These guys don’t owe you a reply or feedback. It’s more than likely that they thought your stuff was okay but didn’t fit this time around. Remember the marketing rule of seven: If they really hate your stuff, they’ll tell you. Otherwise, keep sending till you get a bite.

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