PR Advice For Small Business Owners
Every small business needs to be engaging in public relations on a regular basis. Most of the business owners I mentor don’t engage in regular public relations and don’t understand what public relations can do for their company. They often ask me, “What is public relations?” and I find myself giving them a public relations definition. Let me begin then, with the definition of PR before I go ahead and give top tips for PR. In order to define public relations I want you to be clear we are not talking about promoting your business with an advertisement. If your news release even sounds like an advertisement it will not be picked up in a magazine or newspaper or by any other type of media outlet.
Think of it this way. A PR announcement is a tool for journalists that is designed to help you get publicity about your business, free of charge. It is written in a journalistic style which means it reads like a newspaper. It ties into something that is happening in the news that your business is related to and you can speak about.
It doesn’t announce that your business is open or you are having a sale or promotion. Those things are ads that you need to pay for. Think of something newsworthy you can write about. An example might be that you are a company that has developed a tool that helps people handle stress or an app that helps people manage stress. Maybe it’s holiday time and you write a press release with tips how to decrease holiday stress and you give those tips and mention that they come from your app or your tool. Nothing more. It is not a sales pitch for your product or service.
In fact, all press releases use a predictable format. This is a very important point. Journalists will not take your on-line or off-line submitted release seriously unless you know the release format and use it. The standard format helps them do their jobs and write their articles quickly and gives them fast access to the information they need. If you make it hard for them to access this information they will toss aside your release and move on to someone else’s who has made their job easier. If you don’t know the correct format or want to make sure your releases aren’t ignored you may want to consult with a public relations specialist.
Top Ten Tips For The Best Press Releases
This list has served me and my clients to get the most from our news releases and I’ve personally been seen in publications like the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Shape, Self, Forbes, Fortune, Redbook, The Chicago Tribune, Bottom Line Magazine and many others just by following these tips.
- Instead of putting the words “for immediate release” put the date you want your release used. I never put immediate release like most people do. I tie my release into an exact date I want it used. I often send my release before a major holiday like Valentine’s day and give tips about the holiday. I’ve sent releases before Christmas and given tips about how to avoid holiday stress, etc. Then I give the exact date or dates I want my releases used. By doing this your release will now stand out because most people only know to say “for immediate release”.
- Include contact information for who the reporter can contact for more information or to interview. Most people will only put this up at the top of the release. I encourage you to put this both at the top of the release as well at the very end of the release in the very last line. This makes your information easily accessible to the reporter and also has them very likely to contact you for an interview. It has also led to me getting on over 1500 radio shows as well as national television shows, too. Anything you can do to make things super easy for a reporter, do it.
- Begin every release with a captivating, grabbing headline. The average release will have a boring headline. If your headline sounds like a great story a reporter is more apt to read yours or move it to the top of their pile or to get opened from their crowded in-box of pitches. Spend a lot of time crafting a great headline. You will find this is time well spent. My headlines are often the reasons I get the calls from reporters.
- Don’t ever forget to put your dateline. This is where you list your city, state and the date. It might seem minor yet it is important to a reporter. Your job is to be helpful to reporters and aid them in their quest for good public relations. Make it easy.
- Begin with a strong lead paragraph that summarizes quickly the news of your release. tie right into the information and the story.
- The second paragraph is where you include more information and a quote or two from you. For example, ‘Terri Levine, founder of Comprehensive Coaching U, Inc. and author of Coaching is For Everyone said, “When students understand how bullying effects another student and destroys self-esteem in them starting at a young age, then, and only then do we have a chance at changing what is happening in our schools today.”
- You can include some bullet points within that second paragraph. I could, for example, give the top 3 ways to decrease bullying in that paragraph.
- End with a super short bio. Nothing promotional. One or two sentences, nothing more. As simple as this: Terri Levine is the best selling author of Coaching is for Everyone and a business mentoring expert at www.todayscoaching.com. I always recommend you put in a link to your website! This is how you get in your free promotion which is one of the reasons we write press releases. We establish ourselves as leading authorities in our fields and as credible experts. We are positioning ourselves and we are getting our word out and free branding and exposure, too.
- Every press release ends with: # # #
- And finally, not only send out the releases on-line and off-line, include releases on your website as well.
Let’s see your comments and questions! Want help writing a release? Happy to help just comment below and we can write your release for you or with you!