Five Ways to Use a Press Release to Promote your Small Business

Cathy LarkinWhat Can a Small Business Write a Press Release About?

Something new or newsworthy about your product, service, business or related event. Sometimes you can hang a release on a trend, or an upcoming holiday or season, but events are easiest to get publicity for. Make it about what a targeted publication or blog’s readers want to know, and less about your business agenda. Self-serving releases are a waste of time and money.

  1. The traditional way…write it and research individual reporters who might cover your story. Send an individual pitch email, with the release in the body of the email, and attached.
  2. For SEO. Write an online release with careful attention to keywords, especially in title and first paragraph. Use a few anchor text links to specific pages on your website. Then post through release distribution services like PitchEngine or PRWeb (not free). It may get picked up on online publications and regional newspapers. Both sites have good pagerank 6 & 7, so a link from them is good for your site. Pay special attention to the title of your release, as that may get found by individuals searching for info like yours.
  3. Use a release as background material to support a blogger outreach pitch. Pitch your company’s product to review bloggers (Do your research – pitch the right product to the right reviewer – don’t pitch diapers to a mom blogger with kids in middle school). The release provides background information on the product.
  4. Write a release to position yourself or a staff member as expert on a topic, as long as you really are knowledgeable. This works for issues that are hot in the news.
  5. Trend stories need to hit a hot topic. Try writing about something new in your industry, or better yet, get three complementary businesses and write something together.

What Else can a Business Do with a Media Release?

  1. Post a link to the release on your own site. Write a framing post with an introductory paragraph and a link on your blog or, if you do releases monthly, in a news section on your site. I’ve been surprised at how many clicks news/press pages receive.
  2. You can also add links to your releases in your e-newsletter, as long as they are timely.
  3. Also, if appropriate, share via social media, but not all news releases work well on social channels.

What is the timing for a press release?

  • Traditionally, you wrote a release 3-6 weeks in advance for newspapers, emailed it and made one tactful follow up call to see if they needed anything further. You can also call the main number for deadlines, or check online submission guidelines.
  • For online news releases, short time frames are better. For example, if you have a Halloween aspect to your story post it at 3 am Oct. 28-30 on a service like PR Web; it will be indexed on search engines by morning. When I spoke with a representative they said posting some stories 1-2 weeks in advance gives you a better chance, especially before a holiday. He said in late October, some people were already writing about Christmas, but to me that sounds too early; your story might get lost.
  • Releases that accompany a blogger outreach pitch need 4-6 weeks of lead time, then a reminder in a few weeks. Some bloggers work well in advance, others more spur of the moment. The number of pitches bloggers & journalists receive is vast, and most releases are not targeted to their needs. If you don’t get a response, give them one reminder, then move on. If you can connect with them via social media or leave a genuine, useful comment on a post, sometimes that can help get an on-target pitch noticed.
  • Magazines work still further in advance. A regional pub may work 2 months out, national publications work 4-6 months out…you’ve heard about Christmas in July, well that is almost too late to get your product into some holiday issues of some national mags.

Last Words on Releases for Small Businesses.

To reiterate, matching the right individual (editor, reporter, blogger) at the right publication / blog with an on-target pitch that their readers are interested in is the best way to get a story on your business. Online releases, done well, are good for SEO & event PR. And releases can be a way to get quoted in a trend piece, or covered in an online or traditional publication, if you make the right connection.

Cathy LarkinCathy Larkin, founder of WebSavvyPR.com is a seasoned PR pro who writes, speaks and coaches on how social media, blogging and PR helps small businesses connect with customers.

Day 16: 31 Ways to Boost Your Small Business in 2013This article is from the SmallBizLady special blog series: 31 Ways to Boost Your Small Business in 2013. #Boost2013

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Comments

  1. says

    The two best ways to use press releases:

    –To reach consumers directly via the search engines and bypass traditional media altogether. Gone are the days when we had to genuflect before journalists.

    –To accompany a customized pitch to a specific journalist. Journalists despise press releases because they all know you’re feeding them all the same story. With a customized pitch, you can tweak your story depending on the needs of the audience that follows the media out you’re pitching.

    • says

      Good point about personalized pitches Joan. I also use press releases as a way to provide general information about the topic I’m pitching as background material to the actual pitch that’s targeted specifically to the specific reporter or editor.

      Not all journalists despise all releases. If you are simply trying to get your event into the weekend section of a newspaper, a press release works fine. But if you want to enhance the chances that your event will be featured, you still need to give each newspaper a different “slant” or highlight a different aspect of the event.

      When I worked for a museum and promoted an event that attracted 20,000 people, I routinely pitched a different angle to each paper – I suggested that the main daily paper interview the young steeplechase raiders; smaller weeklies my pitch highlighted the new family activities – dog jump competition; the other weekly pitch featured the tailgate picnic contest.

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