In part one of these posts on PR for small businesses, we covered where to start in using PR for your small business. In this post we’re going to jump straight into how to write a press release, pitch the media, and measure the success of your PR efforts.
How to Write a Press Release
Press releases are short, factual news stories that are sent to the media to secure coverage. They should be written in the third person and answer the following: who, what, where, when, why, and how.
Use the inverted pyramid to structure your press release, starting with the most important information. This ensures that you quickly get to the point and allows journalists to determine at a glance whether your story is of interest or not.
1. Write a short newsworthy headline: journalists will use your headline to decide whether a story is even worth reading, so it’s worth taking the time to get it right.
2. Paragraph one: in one or two sentences, sum up your entire story.
3. Paragraph two and three: go into more detail about and explain the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind the ‘who’ and ‘what’. Who is involved? How did it come about?
4. Paragraph four: include a quote from a company spokesperson to explain why the product or service will be beneficial, express an opinion, and/or provide details that haven’t been included in the rest of the press release.
5. Paragraph five: give details on how and where people can find more details, buy the product or service, or get involved.
End your press release with a company boilerplate; a short paragraph that gives journalists and readers all the essential information and contact details about your business.
The key to pitching journalists is to write a subject line that gets their attention, keep your email brief, and get to the point. Journalists are busy and adept at scanning emails for newsworthy details so there’s no need to write a novel when a few lines will do.
Make sure you address the journalist by name and offer any extra assets you have, including images, videos, or graphics that might help them tell the story.
Measuring PR success
The impact of PR can be difficult to measure, but here are three main ways to determine whether your efforts have had an impact:
1. Measure the amount of press clippings that covered your product or service: if you received a lot of mentions in your target media outlets, you’re successfully raising awareness of your business.
2. Conduct content analysis of your press coverage: quality matters, so check to see if the reporter mentioned your key message or used images of your product.
3. Monitor website traffic: every business should be set up on Google Analytics and using it to identify how PR affects your site traffic, leads, sales, and your top referring sites.
Getting media coverage takes time and determination and often won’t happen overnight. Build relationships with journalists, be nice, and make sure your story is always worth telling.