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How To Create A Modern Press Release

Thu 4th , June 2009

By: Brandon Eley


In SitePoint's latest book, Online Marketing Inside Out, Brandon Eley and Shayne Tilley show you what makes up a modern online marketing strategy. Email campaigns, advertising, SEO, social media, and more%uFFFDit%uFFFDs all in this book! In this excerpt from the book, Brandon Eley explains what makes up a 21st century press release. The marketing landscape has changed dramatically in recent years.

The reliance on the mainstream media to break stories about companies and products is waning, while the number of press releases grows daily. It%uFFFDs increasingly difficult for small and medium-sized businesses to gain mainstream coverage from conventional media forms. So, rather than narrow their focus towards journalists in the hope of hitting the publishing jackpot, small and medium-sized companies are now producing press statements that target web site publishers and bloggers relevant to their niche, as well as targeting customers directly.

To understand the new rules of public relations and media, we must first take a look at the days before electronic communication became dominant. When the print media ruled the roost, well before the Internet was even thought of, there were two major ways companies promoted new products and services: by advertising, or through editorial coverage. Public relations used to be something of a secret art, and only the most seasoned and experienced PR people could break their story in the news. It was as much about having a relationship with that key reporter as it was about writing fantastic marketing copy. What is Public Relations? Public relations%uFFFDor PR, for short%uFFFDis the practice of managing the public image of a company, organization, or person. PR consists of managing the flow of information and news between a person, company, or organization and the public. Until recently, the main conduit for disseminating information about a company or product was the press release. Today, company web sites, blogs, and even social media services serve as viable channels for companies to speak to the public. Press Releases A press release or news release is an official statement sent to media outlets providing detailed information about an event the company wants to get into the news, such as a new product launch or investor relations. Press releases date back to the early 1900s and came about as a way for companies to mitigate bad publicity.

Before advances in communications allowed us access to both sides of the story, it was common for newspapers to print stories about an accident or harmful event before having all the facts. Companies began sending statements to the newspapers as a way to set the record straight%uFFFDa sort of preemptive strike, if you like. As public relations evolved, companies (or their public relations agencies) crafted carefully worded press releases and sent them to a handful of influential reporters in the hope their story would be published in a newspaper or magazine. If it was published, they%uFFFDd receive great publicity. And if not %uFFFD well, that was the bad part. Most press releases failed to gain that prized media coverage. Press Releases in the 21st Century With all these exciting new developments in online marketing, you might be thinking, %uFFFDI can publish news to my web site%uFFFDwhy should I send out a press release?%uFFFD Companies still send press releases because they%uFFFDre an effective way to spread the word about your company. Press releases, when written and distributed efficiently, can strengthen brand awareness, increase sales, and generate buzz about your company and products.

Today, press releases are used widely. As well as being sent to mainstream media journalists, press releases are now available online for customers to find through a web search, or read on a company%uFFFDs blog. Many bloggers and online publishers access these to read for story ideas close to their niche. You can also use press releases to communicate directly to your customers, as well as bloggers, writers, and other key players in your industry. Press releases can be an incredibly effective medium for you to publish news and information about your company, products, or services. When to Write a Press Release Start now! You simply cannot write too many press releases. Okay, that might be a bit of a stretch, but that%uFFFDs the mindset you should have about it. You should write press releases anytime you have news or information to share to your customers, clients, or investors. If you would post it to your web site%uFFFDs News section, then it probably deserves a press release.

The following are all excellent reasons why you%uFFFDd send a press release: * a new product or service to announce * a case study about how you helped a client or made a client money * a new employee has been hired with extensive experience in your industry * your company has won an award or been recognized in your industry as a thought leader * your company, product, or service was reviewed favorably * it%uFFFDs a communication requirement for investor relations (quarterly financial reports for public companies) Anatomy of a Press Release In the old days, press releases were specially formatted and provided reporters with only the most pertinent information that the company felt they needed. Because releases were sent mostly to reporters with experience in a specific industry, they often used technical jargon and industry-specific terminology without explanation or background information.

Today%uFFFDs press releases talk to many audiences%uFFFDyour customers, bloggers, reporters, investors%uFFFDso you need to make sure that your language and terminology is widely accessible, and that you%uFFFDre not overestimating their level of knowledge in that area. Think back to your sixth grade English class and answer the who, what, when, where, why, and how of your story. What Should You Include In Your Press Release? Your press release should engage readers, so be sure to include supporting media whenever appropriate to help your customers understand your content. Think of a popular news source like CNN%uFFFDas well as text, their articles feature photos, videos, and quotes to keep the reader%uFFFDs interest and help tell the story. When writing your press release, try to include any information that will help support your message, such as: * quotes from the president, owner, or other key personnel and industry experts * customer testimonials * product reviews * awards and other examples of industry recognition * offers or calls to action Offer supporting evidence when making marketing claims. If you say your product is the best, you need to support the claim with third-party reviews, specifications, or some kind of data. Similarly, if you hire a new employee or win an award, describe how that will positively affect your business. Did you just hire a hotshot away from a competitor? Did you win an award showing your expertise in a certain area? How does that help your clients or customers? How does it impact on them?

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