Businesses need to advertise and market themselves directly to their customers, on every possible channel that is available to them.
This means that in order to be successful, a small business must use a number of marketing strategies, including traditional off-line advertising techniques, online search engine optimization strategies and various online marketing tactics, including e-mail marketing, video marketing, social media marketing, and press release marketing.
Of all of the different forms of small business marketing, press release marketing has probably remained one of the most constant and the most effective.
Companies have been using press releases to inform their customers about what they want them to know since before the internet was even invented. Today, press releases are valuable marketing tools for both online and offline small business marketing strategies.
Here is what you need to know to effectively use press releases to market your small business.
What is a Press Release?
Press releases are a useful form of communication for many businesses, both large and small.
A press release is a written communication specifically directed to the media. Its purpose is to announce or communicate something that is important, interesting or newsworthy.
Basically, it is a way for a company to tell the media about something that it wants people to know about on a large scale.
These press releases can be sent out through a variety of avenues, including through the mail, via e-mail, faxing or as part of a press kit.
Press releases are usually sent to editors of magazines, newspapers, blogs, online news sources, TV stations and radio stations. Usually, a press release is found in a written letter from, but they can also be found in video or audio form. Press releases can be used in both the online and the off-line world.
The goal is to get the media outlet to publish the release, therefore helping the company spread its message.
The typical press release can vary depending on the type of company that is using it and according to what message it is attempting to spread.
Many small businesses will use a press release to communicate with its customers about its new product or service. They can be a very helpful tool for building up the public’s awareness of a subject. They can also be used to alter the public’s opinion about a specific topic. A lot of companies will use a press release to announce a special event or to gather interest for a charity organization.
They serve to keep the public up-to-date with what is happening with your business.
How Can a Press Release Benefit a Small Business?
Press releases are great tools for generating publicity for a specific company, product or service.
They allow a company to directly influence the message that is being sent out to the public. They allow a business to ‘report’ news to a media outlet, without having to spend the time, effort and money to solicit the media to report a story for them.
Media editors and reporters like press releases because they automatically provide the basis for a news story, without the reporter having to actually locate a story on their own. All they have to do to find ‘news-worthy’ material is to review some press releases. If the release offers something of value to the reporter they can choose to report on the story or to investigate it further.
Press releases are also an effective part of any business’s public relations strategy because they help attract favorable media attention.
They can also be used to attract publicity for an event, product, service or specific company.
These releases can be used to convey a range of information about a business, including:
New product or service launches
Charity events or drives
Exciting news stories
Content for featured news stories
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Press releases help benefit both large and small businesses by allowing them to gain brand awareness, generate publicity and directly communicate with their customers. This, in turn, can help generate increased revenues and capture potential customers.
They can also help a business keep its existing customers informed, engaged and interested.
Generating and distributing press releases is a very cost-effective form of communication, meaning they are a valuable tool for companies who are looking to increase their customer base and revenue streams.
The use of online press releases can also help a business with its search engine optimization or SEO plan. The majority of online users locate information on the web through the major search engines like Google and Bing.
SEO techniques help ensure that a specific website appears at the very top of these search engine results pages or SERPs, where the most amount of online viewers will be able to click on them.
Studies clearly show that most people will only click on website links that are listed in the top 10 results of major SERPs.
How exactly do online press releases help with a business’s SEO tactics?
Online press releases help to generate one-way links to a company’s website. A business press release can contain the company’s contact information, including a link to their website.
This not only lets the reader quickly and easily access the company’s website, but it also makes the site very appealing in the eyes of search engine crawlers.
Search engines like Google and Bing use secretive algorithms to rank a specific website’s relevancy and importance so that they can give the site a page ranking.
The higher the page ranking- the more search engine users are going to end up seeing the website. The exact methods these crawlers use to rank your company’s website is a mystery, but we do know that the more links to your website- the higher the page ranking.
Website links appear in the text as underlined words. When the reader clicks on this underlined hyperlink they are immediately taken to the website.
There are two forms of website links. These are one-way links and reciprocal links.
One-way links are exactly what they sound like. They offer a one-way trip from the website the reader is currently on to the hyperlinked website. Reciprocal links are links that connect two different websites. These usually occur when one website offers another website a link in exchange for the other website offering a link back.
Both types of links are valuable in the eyes of search engines, but one-way links tend to be of greater value to the crawlers.
The more one-way links to your business’s website you can put out onto the web the higher ranking your website will receive from the search engine’s crawlers.
Press releases are a valuable tool for any small business because they allow a company to generate an accurate news story that offers the reader a carefully crafted message. These releases let you control what information you want to be publicized about your company.
They also help you to generate interest in your company and create recognition of your brand. These releases help ensure that your business’s website will receive more traffic and a higher SERP ranking.
Press releases have been one of the most popular business public relations tools for many years in the off-line world.
When used in conjunction with the online world they can be even more beneficial.
How to Create a Press Release
The content, style, and form of your business’s press releases are extremely important.
In order for these releases to do their job effectively, they must follow specific guidelines. The purpose of these guidelines is to ensure that your press release is readable, informative and relevant.
The good news is that producing a high quality and effective press release is easy.
Here is what you need to know in order to create a functional and effective press release.
Press Release Format
The Press Release format style of a press release is designed to be easy to read and engaging to the customer.
The release is supposed to convey the necessary information in a manner that is professional in appearance and easily accessible by the reader in a way that is easy to understand.
There is no use in publicizing your brand and your company through a press release if no one can understand what you have written!
A press release’s format is also designed to be easily recognizable so that media representatives will automatically know what they are reading.
Here is a sample of a standard press release format:
(Your Business’s Logo Goes Here)
Contact Information FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAIN HEADING OF PRESS RELEASE (IN UPPERCASE)
The subheading of Press Release (First letter of each word in Uppercase)
This is the body of the press release. It will have around five paragraphs.
More information listed here, including contact information and a link to your company’s website.
The upper right side of the release will feature the title of the document. You can use any title you want, but FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE is the standard.
The release’s contact information should contain your business’s address, the name of a company representative and their telephone number, and a company e-mail address.
The main headline is the most important part of the release, as this will be the very first thing the reader will see.
In many cases, the reader will decide whether or not they will continue to read the release based solely on the main headline, so you want to make sure it is a good one.
The main headline should be both informative and succinct. It should be intriguing and entice the reader to want to keep reading. The same is true of the sub-headline. The sub-headline should also explain the subject of the press release in a short yet clear fashion.
The body of the press release will contain all of the necessary information the reader needs to know about.
It should feature the 5 W’s, representing the Who, What, Where, Why and When of the information.
The first sentence should explain to the reader why the content is newsworthy and why they should care about it. The rest of the body section should contain the background details and information about the event, product or service.
Depending on the type of message you are attempting to convey, you may have to add a statement, testimony or quote to provide creditability for your company.
The ### sign at the end of the document indicates to the reader that the release is finished. The last part of the press release offers the reader a chance to understand who is offering the message. This is where you will explain what your company’s message is and what it stands for.
This is sometimes called the ‘boilerplate’.
The final part of the press release will contain further information and access to resources regarding your company if the reader is interested in learning more.
A good example of this is:
“For further information about this campaign visit our website at www.website.com”. This should contain your business’s website link and phone number.
In order for your company’s press release to be considered as professional and news-worthy, it should follow these guidelines.
The type should be doubled-spaced to give the reader a clear view of each sentence. Make sure to double check the content for grammar and spelling.
Always use white paper for real world presses releases and black ink. It is very important that your press release be only one page long. It is possible to have a two-page press release, but it is not recommended.
The point of the release is to convey the necessary information without over-burdening the reader.
Keep your press releases short. Keep your content between 300 words and 800 words. Remember that press releases are designed to inform the reader as though they are reading news, so always write your text in the third person. Always avoid using the term “I” in a press release.
The content of your press release should be carefully written to ensure that it covers all of the necessary information in a way that is easy to read and understand.
Avoid hype, false statements or commercial statements in the body of your press release.
The press release is not designed to be an advertisement or a commercial. The purpose is to convey information that will be considered by the reader as ’news-worthy’. The content should remain reportorial, meaning that reads as though it was written by a reporter for a newspaper.
If you are not familiar with this style of writing you may want to read a good newspaper to get a feel for the reporting writing style. Press release content should also never be opinionated.
Use concise and clear statements.
Make the objective of the release known to the reader in the first two sentences. Then use the rest of the body to provide supporting information. The ideal press release will leave the reader wanting to find out more information so that they will end up using your contact information.
It is extremely important that you take the time to compose compelling content for your press releases.
This compelling content starts with an interesting topic. It is also a good idea to incorporate targeted SEO keywords into your press release content. This will help search engines to locate them when an online user performs a search. You should perform some keyword research to find out which targeted keywords are producing the best results for your specific topic.
Be sure to use targeted keywords in your press release’s title as well. Just make sure they are not long-tailed keywords.
Targeting Your Press Release
It is also important that you specifically target the content of your press releases to a certain audience.
Who are you directing this business-related news to?
Are you looking to inform your customers in order to generate more interest and sales? Are you looking to speak to peers within your industry or members of your board of trustees? Is the news you are distributing of interest to local readers, regional readers or global readers? Are you attempting to reach readers within a specific niche, industry, demographic group or interest?
These are things you need to determine before you write up your press releases.
This is especially true if you are attempting to reach an international audience. If you are looking to speak to international readers you have to word your content differently or alter your message to fit their requirements.
Whoever you are looking to target with your press releases, it is vital that your content reaches out specifically to them.
Bland, general or non-specific press release content will probably not be considered as news-worthy by your readers, and therefore will do nothing to impart your desired message to them.
Press Release Content Ideas
There are many different ways to use a press release to generate interest and publicity for your small business.
There are many tried and true press releases tactics you can use.
Simply add a new and relevant spin to these old classic ideas and you will have an effective press release. You can also come up with new and interesting content ideas for your releases.
Here are a few ideas for small business press release topics:
- Telling your customers about a new offer or promotion.
Deals, sales, and promotions are a time-tested way to gain the interest of both existing customers and potential customers. A press release is a great way to inform the public about your latest promotional offers. Make sure to explain what the promotion is, why it will benefit the customer, how they can go about getting this offer and when the offer will end.
- Informing your readers about your brand new product or service.
A press release is a great way to let people know that your company is offering them something new. You can use press releases to explain everything they need to know about your products or service. What the product or service is, how they can get it and why it will benefit their lives. It is helpful to make this content news-worthy to the reader.
A good way to accomplish this is to use a modern trend and incorporate your product or service into it. For example, you could explain to the reader how your new product or service could help them to ‘go green’.
- Press releases can be used to offer the reader research material.
Many customers, especially in the online world, want to do some research before they choose to purchase a product or service. A press release is a great way to educate potential customers about your products or service, so that they may choose to go ahead and buy it. You could use a press release to offer stats, surveys or other useful data to your customers, with the intention of helping them make an informed decision.
- Tell your customers about your company’s involvement with a charity organization.
People like to use businesses that give something back. Involving your company with a charity organization helps to build customer appreciation, trust, and loyalty. You can use a press release to tell your customers all about your charity work, who you are helping and how they can join in on the effort.
- Give away some industry insider tips.
Customers like to find out more information about industries they are interested in. If you can offer them something of value regarding your business’s niche, they may end up seeing you as an expert in your field. This can help build up brand recognition and customer loyalty. You can create a range of research or informational content and then use a press release to make sure your customers know about it.
You could offer free content such as a whitepaper, eBook or newsletter or access to a series of informative YouTube videos.
- Make sure that your customers are aware of any changes to your business.
In the world of business, changes happen often and fast. You want to make sure that all of your customers know about any changes that may be happening with your company, whether it involves a change of address, a change in your business’s name or the introduction of a new employee. A press release can be a very useful tool for making sure that your customers are kept up-to-date on everything relating to your business.
- Brag about your accomplishments.
Anything that can help your business stand out from the competition is helpful for marketing. You will certainly want your customers to be aware of your accomplishments, such as being voted the best restaurant in the region or you’re reaching your 50th year anniversary. You want your customers to know why your business is great and a press release is an awesome way to inform them of this information.
- Announcing upcoming events.
This is one of the most widely used press releases. If you are hosting an event, celebration, seminar, media appearance or anything else that you want the public to attend, a press release will get that information out there. Make sure that you include the Who, What, Where, When and How part so that people can show up to your event.
- Announcing your company’s sponsorships or scholarship.
Whether your business is sponsoring a professional athlete or a small town little-league team, you want your customers to know about it. Sponsoring people and teams and offering scholarships are a great way to create customer involvement with your business and press release tells them all about it.
- Inviting customers to participate in your contest, promotion or sweepstakes.
Everyone loves to win a prize and be rewarded for playing, so promotions, sweepstakes, and contests are a great way to encourage customer appreciation. You can use a press release to encourage customers to join in on the fun, especially if you are able to offer a decent prize if they win.
- Talk about your company’s newest endorsement.
If you receive an endorsement from a celebrity or well-known person from your industry, then you will want to tell your customers all about it. Just make sure that you have the endorser’s permission before you send out a press release.
- Revealing common scams regarding your industry.
Revealing common scams and problems within your specific industry will help to build up trust with your customers. You can use a press release to explain these common scams and how customers can avoid them. Then you explain why your company refuses to participate in such scams and why it offers a safe haven for customers looking for an honest deal.
- Offering a connection to recent current events.
If your business has something to do with a current event or trend a press release can be a very useful tool for riding that momentum. For
example: if there was an oil spill in your region, you could use a press release to inform the public about your company’s volunteer clean-up efforts.
- Offer news of the weird or outrageous
Sometimes you can capture peoples’ attention by offering them news that is weird, interesting, fake, funny or outrageous. Anything that can get a reader’s attention and make them want to find out more can be a valuable marketing tool. Just make sure that your press releases are not too gimmicky, cheap or offensive for the public.
Choosing the Appropriate Time to Send Out Press Releases
The content you are sending out and who this content is directed towards will determine who will end up reading your press releases, but when you send them will determine how much impact they will have.
In today’s 24-hour news media world, getting your press releases out in a timely manner is very important.
Most professional media outlets will recommend that you send out press releases both early in the day and early in the week, to ensure that they reach the people they are intending to reach. Most people are completely inundated with news almost all of the time. If you don’t want your message to be lost in the daily headlines of news you will want to send them at a time that they are most likely to be received and read.
Sending out a press release early in the day and week makes sure that it has time to reach its intended audience.
However, that is also the time that most other forms of news are circulated and read. Most experts agree that you should not send out press releases at the top or bottom of the hour, but rather in between the two. So instead of sending out a release at 10 am, you should send it out at 10:12 am or something like that. This will help prevent your press release from getting lost in the crowd.
Pay special attention to when you send out international press releases because of the time differences.
Sending out a release at 9:12 in the United States will ensure that it reaches China much later in the day. This may hurt your chances of reaching your intended audience. Another thing to consider when targeting an international audience is the time it will take to fully translate your press release into a different language. Most translations require anywhere from 24 to 48 hours.
TV, print and radio press releases may also have specific deadlines.
Usually a TV station will require that all press release information be received at least 2 hours before the scheduled broadcast time. Most radio outlets will require all information to be at least 2 hours before ‘drive time’, or when the majority of listeners will be in their vehicles.
Newspapers, magazines, and newsletters may have their own deadlines, depending on how often they are published.
You can always send a re-release if the timing doesn’t work out right the first time. It is a good idea to create a relationship with the editors of the media outlets you wish to use. This way you can find exactly when they want to receive your press releases.
Press Release Distribution & SEO
The standard press release has been an effective and valuable marketing tool for many years.
In the online market your business can use press release distribution to accomplish many things, including increasing traffic to your website, receiving higher numbers of links, increasing your website’s SERP rankings, generating media attention, creating and controlling brand awareness and recognition and more.
You should write your press releases to include SEO targeted keywords to help increase the likelihood that they will end up with high SERP rankings. You will also want to include links to your website to try to gain a higher page ranking.
Who you distribute your press releases to will also determine how well they are ranked by the search engine crawlers.
Just because you have hundreds of online published locations doesn’t mean that all of these locations are creating quality backlinks to your site.
Major search engines will use a variety of methods to rank your page, including the relevancy of the websites who display your backlinks. The higher the relevancy ranking and authority of the website your press release is published on- the higher page ranking your links will produce.
You can accomplish this by getting your press releases published on high authority sites.
Some of the larger press release distribution services will allow your press release submission to have permanent links to your site.
The more of these permanent links you can receive- the higher the SERP ranking, provided that the links are not buried by daily updates on extremely popular distribution sites.
A good way to counteract this is to create a press release archive section on your company’s website. You can then link your press release archive section or About Us section of your website to a high credibility press release distribution service’s announcement page.
This will create a permanent link that cannot be buried by new content from different sources.
Press Release Marketing Best Practices
- If possible, add multi-media into your press releases. Audio and video make a press release more interesting to the masses.
- Always avoid using hype-bloated phrases and terms in your press release content. This includes words like “unique”, “breakthrough”, “one-of-a-kind”, “state-of-the-art” or “unbelievable”.
- Never use the term “I” in a press release. Always write your releases in the third person.
- Make your press release content focus on the human interest of the story, but always avoid adding in judgments or opinions.
- Always use the active tense in the headline of your press releases. Say that your new store is ‘opening’ not that is has ‘opened’. The body of your release should be written in the appropriate tense.
- Try to create a press release format that is easy to use for media editors.
- Make a good impression with the first paragraph of the body of your press release. Many editors will not read past the first paragraph. Write your body as though it was an up-side-down pyramid, with the most important information first and least important information second and third
- If possible, use quotes in the body of your press release.
- Only send out press releases to reporters who are most likely to use the information. Avoid being a ‘spammer’ who just sends out information to everyone, whether they want to receive it or not.
- Avoid sending out press releases in mass e-mails. Use only a single name in the recipient field.
- Check with the media reporter to find out what their preferred method of receiving press releases is.
- Always use targeted keywords in your press release headlines. Use long-tail keywords throughout the release, but not in the actual headline.
- Always keep your press releases to the appropriate length. Avoid too many words.
- Take some extra steps to create press release content that is actually news, not just hype or advertisement. This will go a long way towards helping you establish credibility with media outlets so they will continue to publish your releases and gain publicity for your business. It will also get more readers.
- Never lie in a press release. Make sure that your company can back up any claims that it makes in its communications to its customers.
- Don’t be afraid to add hyperlinks into the body of your press releases for online distribution. Both readers and search engine crawlers like hyperlinks.
- If possible, add an interesting story to your press release content. Everyone loves a good story.
- Make it appear that you have spent a decent amount of time composing the material for your press releases.
- Pay attention to the guidelines for press release content offered by credible PR websites. If you follow these guidelines you will have a better chance of getting your releases published.
A well-executed press release will create several benefits for your small business. It will allow you to inform your customers about what you want them to know about your company. It will help generate brand recognition and awareness.
It will help you to create the right kind of publicity for your business and the events you sponsor. It can also help you control how your customers think about your company because you will be in charge of the message they present.
In addition to helping you control your brand’s message, good press releases help with your SEO tactics to ensure that your business’s website ends up at the top of the major search engines.
This, in turn, will drive traffic to your website.
A press release strategy for any small business should focus on 3 things:
- Creating highly informative and newsworthy content that will entice the reader to find out more.
2. Creating a detailed and comprehensive list of media outlets to distribute these press releases to.
- Using the proper distribution channels to get the releases to where the most amount of readers will see them when they are most likely to read them.
When used in conjunction with other small business marketing methods, press release marketing tactics can be extremely effective.
On top of that, press release marketing is a rather cost-effective method for generating publicity for your business.
This may be the reason why this form of marketing has been very popular with both large and small business for years.