There are no guarantees with press releases, but they are worth a try if you have some news to announce.
Press releases are the way you announce the latest news about your company to newspapers, radio and television stations—even bloggers. Editors may pick up your information and give you free press coverage—or they may not. If you want to guarantee that your announcement appears in the press, you must pay for an ad to assure that your words appear, just the way you want them.
To increase the odds of your release being used, follow accepted press release style. A press release must have the essential information—the who, what, when, where and why—in the first paragraph.
Picture a busy editor. Often the first paragraph is all he/she will read before deciding whether to ditch the release or to use it. Further paragraphs amplify the basic information, in order of items that are most likely to hook the editor.
You should also remember that the release serves a double duty. It must interest the editor enough to want to use it, and, even better, to write an article about it. But some editors, particularly on local papers, may want to save themselves some trouble and use some or most of the text of the release itself in the body of the article or item they end up printing. So the release must be written in a way that not only will catch the interest of a busy editor, but also will be easily understood by the general public.
The release ought to be no more than one page. If all your information will not fit on one page, you can attach a fact sheet as a second page. The editor will use it if he/she decides to write a longer article.
It’s good to include pictures. Editors always need them. But to make it easier on the editor or reporter the pictures should be sent as separate image attachments, not embedded in the release.
Press releases are a way to reach out to the public with an announcement about your business. If you succeed in getting free press coverage, they are well worth the effort.
For more about the differences between press releases and ads, and about how to write a press release, read my blog post “Who Needs a Press Release?”