Get Noticed: Write An Effective Press Release

By Steve Higgins

Newspapers are down but not out. Your local paper remains a valuable source of advertising, both paid and the free kind. Small-business owners should not forget this traditional way to contact the public as they focus on social media and digital advertising.

As a journalist for two decades, I received thousands of press releases, mostly from local businesses trying to get the word out about their services, products or activities. Here are some tips for business owners who want to submit a press release to a newspaper editor or reporter:

Define Your Purpose. A press release should have a single, clear focus. To be effective, it has to convey news, i.e. something new and potentially useful to readers, such as an upcoming community event your company is sponsoring, or a new product or service. Read the publication to see what the editors will cover.

Get To the Point. The headline and the first sentence should make your purpose clear immediately. Nothing turns off a reporter more than having to search through several paragraphs of fluff to get to the news content.

The Five W’s. Keep it brief, but include the important facts related to “what, who, where, when and why.” Add contact information so the editor or reporter can follow up with you.

Make It Timely. I frequently received “news” releases announcing that a business had opened, only to find out later this stellar event had occurred months earlier. That’s called old news. Area readers already know about it. The best time to send out a press release is a week or so before the business opens. It’s far more useful for readers to know what’s coming, not what’s past.

That’s it. It’s not rocket science. Just ask yourself why would a reader care about your news? Then explain why.

I’m a business copywriter and financial writer with more than 25 years of experience. For articles, blogs, white papers, ghostwriting, editing and yes, press releases, check out higginswriting.com or contact me at steve@higginswriting.com.

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