Starting a Business – Getting The Word Out Using Press Releases
What Is A Press Release?
A press release is a written or recorded communication submitted by mail, fax, or e-mail to news media newspapers, magazines, or radio and television stations or networks to announce something newsworthy. Websites have changed the way sources submit press releases. Commercial and complimentary press release services have made news distribution more affordable than formerly for small businesses. Such distribution websites say they make news more visible and discoverable by major search engines.
The use of press releases is common in public relations to attract favorable media attention to their clients or to publicize their products or events. A press release is an information subsidy with news story basics. Press releases can announce that you are starting a business, scheduled events, personal promotions and accomplishments, awards, new products and services, and merchandise sales. They often generate feature stories, so much so that journalism based on uncritical overuse of press releases becomes “churnalism.”
What Should Be Included
Strictly speaking, anything submitted to a reporter or media outlet is a press release or information released to the media; however, public relations professionals use a standard format for efficiency and enhanced probability of publicity. The format helps journalists separate press releases from pitch letters or media advisories. In this format, the press release body has four or five paragraphs and 400 to 500 words.
Common structural elements are the headline to grab the attention of publishers, a dateline with date and location of the press release, an introductory paragraph with answers to the questions who, what, when, where and why, a body with relevant details, boilerplate, a short section with background information about the source, and a close indicating the end of the release with media contact information.
How It Works
In the traditional distribution model, the source releasing information hires a publicity agency to write and distribute it to news networks of journalists. In this model, the source is ultimately responsible for both the content and its distribution. A self-published press release bypasses the pricey newswire distribution networks, and the source writes its own press release and sends it directly to media outlets. This approach tends to rely on e-mail and web distribution. Some hybrid models pay for distribution through established networks but otherwise follow the do-it-yourself model. Eighty million people in the USA get the news online daily.
Some public relations firms send out video press releases, pre-taped video programs that television stations can broadcast intact. Sometimes television news viewers can detect video press releases within television newscasts; for example, in many celebrity interviews on a movie studio set the movie logo may be visible to them. Another example is a videotape of a medical breakthrough actually produced and distributed by a pharmaceutical company to sell a new product. Video press releases can be elaborate productions costing thousands of dollars to distribute. They can be in the television news format or produced for the Internet.
Sometimes a source distributes a press release early and then embargoes it, requests that news organizations not report the information until a specified time. News media, for instance, usually receive copies of presidential speeches several hours in advance, and reviewers receive samples or previews of the subjects of their reviews in advance of their release dates.
Unless journalists voluntarily agree to an embargo request, usually under a general nondisclosure agreement, they are under no obligation to honor it; however, even without obligation, news organizations generally do not break embargoes for sources that they wish to cultivate. If they do, the sources may blacklist them from future releases.
Press Releases are a great way to get the word out about your new business and what’s happening with it. You might want to check out PRWeb.com, an online press release service.
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