Building public awareness is a challenge all companies must face, especially with so many media channels to reach: TV, radio, print, and even internet news channelsÂ — it can be quite daunting, but well worth it if your company or event is picked up by a reporter.
One of the greatest tools to gaining good media coverage is the press release.Â It provides a chance to pitch your story to these media influencers and gain positive exposure.
Press Release Fundamentals
Don’t think of the press release as a casual story pitch. Many companies and organizations make this mistake.Â The formatting guidelines required are strict but each release is only provided 30 seconds to a minute before it is set aside for more consideration or thrown away.Â Therefore, it is important to abide by the rules to allow for quick skimming. A press release should:
be printed on company letterhead
contain only objective, factual information
include the contact information of the lead PR agent
be single spaced, except for the body, which is double spaced
It’s important that all press release stories are objective and straightforward.Â A good journalist will undoubtedly check the validity and fairness of all releases submitted to their news desk.Â If they find your release to be bias, it may prevent them from ever accepting a release from you or your company again.
Identify Your Audience
Make sure that your press release speaks to the reporters and influencers you want to reach.Â Your organization’s story must not only help promote your company, but also create enough interest to help draw in a larger audience to their publication.
The press release has strict formatting guidelines, it must consists of these requisite components in the following order:
Contact Information – align this section to the right, directly underneath the letterhead.Â Include the company name, address, phone number, and email address.
Release Date – the date you intend the article to be published.Â Write the specific date or “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” in caps.Â Align to the left.
Headline – a short, engaging title for the release.Â Text should be center aligned, in bolded caps, with an italicized sub headline, if necessary.
Dateline – kicks off the main body of the press release.Â It should provide the following information: CITY, State abbreviation, month abbreviation. date.Â Pay attention to the punctuation and capitalization!
Closing Sign – used to signify the end of a press release.Â Two options may be used for the closing sign: three centered pound signs, or “- 30 -” also centered.Â Like so:
– 30 –
If your press release is more than a page long, the bottom of the first page should have “-more-” written three times across the bottom of the page, while the second page should say “-Page Two-” centered at the top. Like so:
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â -more-Â Â Â Â Â Â -more-Â Â Â Â Â Â -more-
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _page break_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
– Page Two –
Two pages are acceptable, but it’s best to condense your press release into one page whenever possible.Â Your press release should never exceed two pages.
About the Company- Following the closing sign, you may include an “about the company” section, which is a permissible way to do some promotion by informing your readers about your company.Â This should be a brief boilerplate paragraph that provides the company as a resource for the story.
Converting the Release to Coverage
Although press releases may not have a consistent of a turnover rate, they are a free and easy way to obtain coverage.Â The formatting rules may seem slightly eccentric, but they’re required for acceptance from most journalists.Â They’re more likely to toss it out if it interrupts their rhythm.
Remember, reporters are inundated with press releases everyday, so don’t get discouraged if you aren’t chosen right away.Â It may take some time submitting your press release to several different sources before you see results. As long as you use these easy-to-follow guidelines and are persistent, the media will in the end, take notice of that great product or event your organization feels passionately about.
Click here for an example of a press release
About the Author
Michael L David is a member of the marketing team at Essential Security Software (ESS), the leading provider of email anti-theft software for small business. Michael is an alumnus of Gonzaga University. He is a regular contributor to Iwantmyess.com.