Monday, 2 January 2012

Photographers ~ Learn How to Write a Traditional Press Release

In my last post I discussed sending out press releases. I was thinking that I should dig a little deeper into the subject because people often over look the value in a "press release" and may assume that it is not even something they would want to consider.

When your photography business does something newsworthy, you really should inform your local media; daily and weekly newspapers, local and regional magazines, radio and television stations, corporate clients and business associates. That way, these outlets have all the necessary information they need to make an informed decision on whether or not to inform their audience on your company’s success.

Press releases offer free publicity for newsworthy events, but really should not be treated as “advertisements in disguise.” The legitimate uses of press releases are many, however, and can include announcements of: new products, new services, awards given, awards received, special events, speaking engagements, office move, survey results, sponsorship of events, contests, and more. If your releases are well-written and speak to the needs of the publication or radio/TV station’s audience, editors are more likely to use your material. If not this time, repetitive successful announcements will, at some point, make someone stand up and take notice of your company.

Press releases are written and presented in a very specific format. Your press release, also called a news release, can be written on your normal letterhead, with a heading added to indicate its function as a “news release.” Conventional press releases place the contact name and phone number on the upper left and the press release date of writing and requested date of information release on the right of the page, under your company name and “News Release” heading. If your news relates to something that has already occurred, you can say “For Immediate Release.” If you are announcing an event in the future, you can indicate “For Release After (specify date).”

A concise informative headline a few lines down—double spaced, in capital letters tells the editor your news “in a nutshell.” Your first paragraph describes the whole story in brief terms, covering the 5 W’s — who, what, where, when, and why/how in two or three sentences at the very beginning, in case the publication has limited space to print your news. Then follow with relevant quotes, interesting tid-bits, benefits to the reader and the reasons your news might be of interest to them.

If it is a joint release, that being a release you put out and including another party pertinent to this release, more information from the other party should be included.

The contact information of the other party should also be put in your release.

You then “End” your release with all the ways interested readers can contact you for additional information.

Convention again dictates inserting “–End–”to indicate the ending and “–More–” to show that your release continues on the next page.

Before you do send out any press releases, may I suggest you do a GOOGLE search to see some samples of press releases for small businesses. This will help you structure your announcements.

But wait, that is not all yet…. In today’s environment, successful public relations needs to incorporate social media.

Social media can enhance your public relations efforts because of the potential of word of mouth and how quickly and easily conversations can spread online.

Social media has changed how you write and send out a press release. The purpose of an online press release is to increase the visibility of your news, improve your search engine rankings and drive traffic to your website or a particular landing page. In addition, you also want to encourage online media and bloggers to pick up the story and blog about it, tweet about it, etc. in order to spread online word of mouth.

Some Best Practices For Social Media Press Releases:

Title: The title of your press release should be about 80 characters to ensure that the full title is displayed in search results. Think of the keywords that you want your press release to rank for and be sure to use them in your title.

Body: The body of your press release should always be under 500 words. This means that your press release needs to be concise and to the point. Think about what story you need to tell and what story the media or your corporate clients will care about. What’s the primary story? What’s the secondary story? Again, use the keywords that you want to rank for in search engines.

Links: Make sure to include a link to where you want people to go. Do you want people to go to a specific landing page? Your Facebook page? Your homepage? Your BLOG? What is your call to action for your press release or where can readers get more information? The link should also be near the beginning of the press release. Some websites will only post the first few lines of your release, so getting it up in the first few lines will maximize the number of people that see the link to your content that you want to promote.

Sharable Content: Include content that is easily shared, like a corporate video, logo image or photos. What can bloggers use if they decide to write about your news? Make it easy for them to share your story and your brand.

You also might want to consider creating a media or press page on your website where you can direct the media for more information as well as provide content they can use. A blog page is easy to do… a new one, or use your existing BLOG for this purpose.

Distribution: You could pay to distribute on various services, but if you are just starting out, the extra $200 +/- may not be something you want to invest in just for press releases.

Instead, promote your press release on all of your social media channels including your company blog, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Promote it wherever interested parties are likely to be looking for news.