Typically, press releases are seen as a skill of the trained journalist. And, of course, that remains true for many reasons, but you don’t have to be Clark Kent to get your business-promoting content successfully published in the local press or online...
If you have a relatively strong writer within your team, ‘press’ them to research writing press releases online, it’s amazing how much new knowledge and ideas they’ll come back to you with. A lot of the technical know-how of setting up a professional-ish press release is available freely online, including writing techniques, formatting and structure, as well as free templates that you can rebrand as your own organisation's press release template for future releases.
The important thing to understand about PR in 2020/21 is that traditional newspapers are proactively looking for support with articles and content to fill their papers and offer fresh perspectives and insights from previously unheard areas and businesses in their communities.
The second thing to remember is: if you don’t succeed, you can always try again. And, be patient. If you’re not a ‘pro’ press release writer the journalist tasked with publishing your release may need to repurpose and rewrite your release (no biggie, you’re still getting the free publicity!) or - more excitingly - they may want to follow up and get photographs and do a bigger ‘scoop’!
01. Writing a great press release
First of all, do your online research and source a free template - easily available online right now (go, go, go!). But for some starting advice, make sure your first sentence is a concise summary of your news, and keep every single sentence factual - don’t add ‘fluff’. This isn’t a blog post where you can ramble on, and include silly phrases such as, ‘go, go, go’...
Make sure your press release answers the must-haves to any good article - what, when, where, why, who and how. It should also ideally come with pre-supplied quotes and photography. Photos are easy enough to take on any modern smartphone, and again, there’s plenty of advice online for how to do this successfully - including this article of ours, How to Take Professional Website Photography with your iPhone.
Finally, before submitting, always remember to proof-read and fact-check, the last thing you want to do is publish a bit of guesswork if you’re unsure of specifics - this could be an embarrassing article, for whoever’s involved. Copy checking will always be done by the online publisher, but it’s best to ensure you also do this, particularly in regards to technical terminology in your industry and people’s names.
02. Submitting your article
Step one: Where is your audience reading content like this and where are they going to source updates like yours? That’s where you should be publishing this article. If it’s good news about employment at your company, then the local press will likely be interested too, so start there…
- Navigate to your local newspaper online, i.e. The Northern Echo (for Darlington and County Durham).
- Go to their Contact Us page.
- From here there’s an online submission tool to publish your article or you can phone or email the Newsdesk to submit your own article.
- Create a simple email outlining who you are and what your article is about, stating your availability for amends or fact-checking, and ask if you can be notified if/when it’s going to press.
- If you have no immediate response, try in 3 days time to follow up. You will usually get a specific journalist reply to you who is tasked with taking your story to publication.
If you’re looking at specialist published magazines/publications or online resources, browse their Contact and Helpdesk pages for information about getting articles published.
Great sources for the business community that we’d recommend include Bdaily and UMi, as well as your local business park (i.e. Aycliffe Business Park which publishes and disseminates your news articles for free, and blog posts for a small charge) or local business authorities, i.e. Business Durham for Newton Aycliffe Businesses.
There you have it! It is really that easy to get your great news uploaded and the word spread about your fantastic company... So, what are you waiting for? Get publishing!