A great way to promote your business is through media relations. A little PR can go a long way because:
1. Having positive news coverage of your business gives you immediate exposure and credibility, and
2. Other than the time and effort it takes you to write a press release, it’s free.
It's pretty exciting to see your business highlighted in the newpaper (refer to the photo on the left). But, here’s the honest truth: most press releases do not get picked up. Journalists are bombarded with press releases all the time and are more likely to hit “delete” or throw it in the trash unless there is something truly worth sharing.
So, if you’re thinking of writing a general press release to explain your business and what you offer - don’t bother. But, if you host an event, offer a promotion or release a new product or service, drum up interest by issuing a press release to your local media. While larger, regional newspapers will probably not give a lick about this; small, local newspapers are often willing to run information like this if they have the space and you convey its value.
Another option might be to search for a charity or community event that is in line with what your business offers. Sponsor the event, or at least be there to provide services, products, coupons, something. Pitch a press release to local media outlets before the event to drum up awareness of the event, and (of, course) your participation in it. But also pitch a press release after the event, indicating what a success it was and how great your business is for supporting a community or charity event. If there is no such event, sponsor a customer appreciation day or an annual open house at your place of business.
Try to establish and build relationships with your local newspapers and reporters. While they are usually overwhelmed with press releases that completely lack newsworthiness, they’re occasionally in need of something to cover. Your business may come to mind if you’ve cultivated relationships with them.
A couple of tips for writing your press release:
1. Include a short, headline that gets right to the point.
2. Include the date and your contact information (full name, title, business address, phone and email address).
3. Include photos of you can. It makes it easier to cover your story if you have a visual to pair it with. Also, if they do run your press release and include your photos, you’ll probably get more folks reading about you, as readers are more likely to check out the stories with photos.
4. Determine the best person to send you press release to. While many newspapers have a general fax number or email address (like firstname.lastname@example.org), sending to these will encourage your release to be overlooked. Find the email address for the news editor (or the appropriate, section editor if it’s a lager newspaper), and email your press release directly to him or her. If you are sending your press release to multiple newspapers, be sure to email them individually rather than to multiple editors in one email. If you’re faxing your release, be sure to include “To the attention of [editor name]” on the cover.