Five Killer Press Release Tips for Small Businesses

Five Killer Press Release tips for Small BusinessesLet me tell this to you straight: most journalists will never write about your company or product.

Why not? You are not newsworthy! When I say newsworthy, I mean something new in your business that someone besides you (and your team) cares about.

So you know what I recommend? Coming up with a great story, essentially pre-write the story. You’ve done most of the work for the writer, be they a journalist or a blogger.

Another thing: most press releases that news organizations receive are deleted or thrown away. They are never seen by anyone else. But here’s a secret – online it doesn’t matter because you decide what gets published. All you need to do is write a press release and distribute it through an online news portal. But first, you have to have a killer idea.

Top Five Press Release Ideas

  1. Publish Case Studies, Data and Surveys
    If you have research to share, a press release is a great way to do it. So maybe you looked through your customer list and found that small businesses with a blog get 5x more traffic to their web site. Expand that and send it out!
  2. Make Lists
    Just like this article, you can create stories around a list. Information like “The 3 Mistakes Most Small Business Owners Make,” “How to Build Muscle like a Bodybuilder Pro,” “Small Business Trends Names 5 Best Online Tools for Small Businesses,” or this one – “5 Ways to Wear Leggings this Winter” make good stories.
  3. Publicize a Good Cause
    This is the story about how you and your team took the day off to serve homeless youth. Or how OfficeMax is helping teachers by donating school supplies. Look for these type of “feel good” stories and write them up in a press release.
  4. Give the Major News Story a Local (or your) Spin
    You’ll need to act fast to capitalize on this opportunity but it can be worth it. When big news hits and you can add your take, you can be a local expert on the topic. Recently my video editor made a video about the Typhoon in the Philippines where he lives. It got more than 40,000 views on YouTube. He could’ve sent out a press release with the video embedded in it.
  5. Highlight the Strange and Bizarre
    This idea can go viral more quickly. Find the odd, sensational, strange and deranged to write about. The stranger the story, the more likely you’ll get publicity from your press release. This is extreme marketing. You can find examples in Digg.com by searching for a general term. If you’re a dentist, search for “teeth.” Follow that link and you’ll see one of the top stories is how monkeys teach their offspring to floss. You could send out a press release about that and how monkeys teach their kids to floss, why don’t humans? Another site I like for bizarre ideas is Trend Hunter.

Hopefully this inspires you to write your own press releases. Most businesses overlook many opportunities to send out a press release and get some media coverage. They make the one mistake that is common: they make it about them, not the story. Once you do that you’ll turn most people off right away, including journalists.

Use these tips and write your own killer press releases – and you’ll get media biting. And if you don’t, please distribute your news online and blog about it. Then people can find your story regardless of if media picks it up.

* * * * *

Janet Meiners thaelerAbout the Author: Janet Meiners Thaeler is an Evangelist for OrangeSoda Inc. and the principal blogger for their corporate blog and Twitter account. She regularly advises clients on blogging and social media strategies. Her own blog is Newspapergrl.com (and Twitter account @newspapergrl). She is passionate about online marketing and is always looking for new insights, resources and trends to help her clients.

28 Comments ▼

Janet Meiners Thaeler


Janet Meiners Thaeler Janet Meiners Thaeler is an Evangelist for OrangeSoda Inc. and the principal blogger for their corporate blog and Twitter account. She regularly advises clients on blogging and social media strategies. Her own blog is Newspapergrl.com (and Twitter account @newspapergrl). She is passionate about online marketing and is always looking for new insights, resources and trends to help her clients.

28 Reactions

  1. Martin Lindeskog

    Janet:

    Do you know how many press releases the major newspapers are receiving on a daily basis?

    You said in your bio that you are “always looking for new insights, resources and trends to help her clients.” I must then ask you if you have read The Fall of PR & the Rise of Advertising by Stefan Engeseth? The foreword is written by Al Ries, author of The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR. You could download the book for free (PDF version).

  2. Online PR is great and has huge potential for small businesses. You mention distributing through an online news portal. What are the top 3 in your experience?

  3. Janet, Timely post, thank you! I am pondering through your ideas as I write a press release for our software release tomorrow.

  4. Janet Meiners Thaeler

    Martin
    You write: “Do you know how many press releases the major newspapers are receiving on a daily basis?”

    Precisely why it’s important to get coverage online. There’s practically infinite space and bandwidth. You don’t need a newspaper to pick it up. That’s my point. But the principles apply either online or offline – telling a good story.

    If you want traditional media, it’s a lot easier to get the media to pick it up if your story is popular online (which is over-rated IMO, still important but I’d rather get my story on a major blog).

    Example: everyone passes around the video with the dancing bride and groom. After it gets critical mass, then the networks start talking about it.

    My specialty is pitching to search engines. I’m an internet marketer, not a PR person. I haven’t read that book but I’ll find it and download it to my Kindle.

    Thanks for the suggestion,
    Janet

  5. Janet Meiners Thaeler

    Note: If I wrote this again, I’d make sure the title wasn’t edited by my editor. I didn’t catch this until now.

    People online read visually and they skim. AP Style says spell out the numbers. Online writing says don’t.

    The title of this post should be what almost everyone is tweeting on Twitter:

    “5 Killer Press Release Tips for Small Businesses”

    NOT

    “Five Killer Press Release Tips for Small Businesses”

    I saw research to show how you get more clicks you’d get on the 1st example but I can’t find it again. But I’ve seen it in my work and case studies I’ve read over the years.

    Clients push back on this. Some think I’m uniformed or uneducated. They want to follow AP Style, but what’s more important to me is # of reads, clicks, sales, etc. not following a style that was created before the internet even existed.

    Janet

  6. Janet Meiners Thaeler

    Robert,

    You wrote: “Online PR is great and has huge potential for small businesses. You mention distributing through an online news portal. What are the top 3 in your experience?”

    Depends on your budget. I’ve seen good results with http://www.free-press-release.com but the free sites are always in flux. Good today, bad tomorrow (they start charging or the quality drops or you can’t get the press releases approved once they become popular). Lists I find that are even a few months old are outdated. So it’s a moving target.

    I’m a huge fan of PRWeb at the $200 SEO visibility package – can’t beat the features or the customer support. That’s what I use most often. But PRLeap.com and 24-7pressrelease also have good offerings for under $100 and even let you embed a video.

    The press release submission service on this site, even though it’s a republish rather than syndication, has shown excellent results too. I used it for the press release about my book and it’s one of the top 5 results on Google.

    Hope this helps. Story first, then good distribution. My book “I Need a Killer Press Release, Now What??” goes into more detail about online press releases.

    Janet

  7. Great tips…thanks for the information.

  8. Thanks Janet. Good strategies. And also thanks for the tip about writing out numbers vs using the actual numeral in headlines. I’ve argued this one from both sides; but I do agree online effectiveness is the goal (in an online environment).

  9. Hi, Janet-

    Great post!

    One more thing to perhaps add to your fantastic list is conducting keyphrase research and focusing the release around two primary keyphrases. That way, the release is more likely to come up during a keyword search – and it can gain even more exposure.

    Thanks again! I’m going to blog about your post later today. :)

  10. Janet,

    These are some great tips! I do, however, think that press releases can also be used as a great way to generate inbound links to your company’s website.

    One great resource to help your readers optimize their press releases from an SEO and inbound marketing perspective is HubSpot’s Press Release Grader. It’s a free tool that evaluates the marketing effectiveness of a release. http://pressrelease.grader.com

    Thanks for the post!
    Pamela Seiple (PR Manager, HubSpot)

  11. Thanks a lot for sharing this post! I will try to put your suggestions into work with my next press release. :)

  12. Great ideas Janet.
    Thanks for taking the time to share them.

  13. I have consistently had success using the first of your ideas: publishing the results of case studies of surveys. I conduct the surveys for my own benefit, to learn about my customers and prospects. But if something unique or surprising appears in the results it’s easy to turn it into an angle that journalists can use.

    Bottom line is that if you can solve a writer’s problem by, as you say, essentially pre-writing the story you stand out from the crowd that is looking to get something for nothing.

  14. Pamela,
    I’m a big fan of Hubspot and the press release grader! I need to send you a copy of my new book about SEO press releases.

    Pat,
    Thanks for commenting and sharing how the tip to use research helps. I love how it helps you know your customers & gets publicity. I’m going to include that point in future tips.

    - Janet

  15. Excelent advice! I would add:
    Give Helpful Information. This is a chance to share your knowledge and expertise. Examples: “Five Killer Press Release Tips for Small Businesses” “How to Pitch Journalists on Twitter,” or “Save Money by Doing your Own PR Online.”

  16. I’ve argued this one from both sides; but I do agree online effectiveness

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