How to Write a Good Old Fashioned Press Release to Promote Your Online Business
HOW TO WRITE A PRESS RELEASE
Have you ever considered promoting your online business or marketing efforts with a traditional press release or news release? By using this tried and true method, you could end up with a front page newspaper story about your writing efforts or your expertise in a certain niche. This type of exposure could dramatically increase your page views and lead to recurring traffic for your website or blog. It can also lend instant credibility and put weight behind your work.
Take a look at the recent local radio interview by fellow writer StephHicks. This interview was posted on the HubPages blog, and I listened to it and viewed her articles as a result. You could easily obtain an interview like this and boost your online writing.
So what are you waiting for?
By the end of this article, you will have a press release format template that you can use again and again to get the word out about your efforts. It will look more professional than most “homemade” releases. For this exercise, we need nothing more than a word processing program like Microsoft Word
WHAT IS THE BEST PRESS RELEASE FORMAT?
For our purposes, we will be following a simple, five to six paragraph format for the body of the release that fits on one page. This is the style most print, radio, TV and online journalists are used to seeing. While there aren’t a ton of set rules for writing a press release, any major deviations from normal standards could easily land your news release in the trash.
So what are the components of a press release?
- Header (and optional subhead)
- Lede (or lead) paragraph
- First Quote
- Expository Paragraph(s)
- Second Quote
- Contact Info
At the top of your page, you want to have a large header that indicates the document is a press release. I normally use the word “NEWS” in large font, then below it “from ORGANIZATION.” For the press release we will write for this article, let’s use “NEWS...from MarriedWithDebt.com”
Also in the header we want to indicate that the news is “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE,” because sometimes stories are pitched before they happen. This lets the reporter know that they can start right away on writing a story about you. We also want to include the date that we sent the release, your name and phone number.
Now that we have the header done, it’s time for the most important part - the headline. This is the one or two line statement that sums up what you are trying to pitch. This is your one big chance to get your message across and grab a reporter’s attention.
So what makes a good headline?
Remember, you have to pitch something that would be a good story. The reporter will want to see a good angle, perhaps a human interest story, or a new idea that they have not written about before.
Because we are talking about ways to promote our online businesses through traditional media, we might use a headline like:
LOCAL MAN ON A MISSION TO RETIRE AT 35 WITH HELP FROM ONLINE WRITING
If you look at what I did, I put the headline in all caps to grab attention (this is not required). I also used the words LOCAL MAN, which immediately tells the reporter that this is not some mass distributed spam that was sent to every newspaper in the country. I also constructed a narrative - I want to retire at 35, something that not many people are aspiring to do during these tough economic times.
A reporter knows that readers who are struggling may be looking for ideas to earn income from home. The headline suggests that I am succeeding, or at least confident enough in what I’m doing to tell the newspaper about it.
Please notice that the headline is fairly short, which will allow us to present it in a larger font without looking overbearing.
After you have written the headline, you can choose to do a subheadline, whose purpose is to offer a bit more detail to enchant the reporter or assignment editor.
LEAD (OR LEDE) PARAGRAPH
Now it’s time to get to the body of the release. We will start with the intro, or lede (lead) paragraph. This is a short, usually one-sentence paragraph with a dateline that sums up the headline, and is meant to also capture the reporter’s attention. If they aren’t interested from your lede, they will probably just toss your release. This makes the lead paragraph the second most important part of your press release.
So let’s write our lede for the sample release we are constructing:
(SPRINGFIELD, IL) - Tired of his dead end job and working for bosses who can never be satisfied, John REDACTED, a married father of two from Springfield, is building a retirement plan that costs almost no money, but could allow him to retire in five years and fund his dreams through residual income. At a time when get-rich quick scams are everywhere, REDACTED is helping others realize that a “portfolio” of well-written online articles linked to Internet advertising can, over time, grow to support a family.
In my lede, I have established what I am trying to do, why it might be newsworthy, and that I’m not pitching some get rich quick scam.
The lede should be followed by a quote from you:
“After the economy crashed in 2008, a lot of people, including me, realized that our economy is simply a shell game to encourage us to work for 50 years for stagnant wages while hoping we can scrape together enough to afford the luxury of both food AND medicine when we are old,” said John REDACTED, founder of MarriedWithDebt.com, a personal finance and lifestyle design blog. “I decided that I wanted to break from from the debt treadmill, retire young, and enjoy my life and my family.”
The purpose of the quotes is to show that you would be able to make succinct and salient points during an interview. As always, every paragraph in your release is designed to sell your story.
After your first quote, you want to have one or two paragraphs that explain what you are trying to talk about. These should be written in the third person.
John REDACTED, like many who were drawn to the idea of earning an income online, explored many options, from selling a product or book to marketing for affiliates. While money can be made doing these things, he decided to take something he is good at - writing - and focus on that as a way to earn income. He started a blog based on his passion for personal finance to chronicle his journey to become debt-free, which geared towards young couples and families. He applied for a Google AdSense account which allows him to host relevant advertising for other sites and services on his site, which earns him money when a visitor clicks an ad on his site.
REDACTED also discovered that he could write articles for a website that allows writers earn income when the articles are viewed from search engine queries. The site he chose - HubPages.com - pays writers based on clicks and visits. His author page - marriedwithdebt.hubpages.com allows John to write a variety of articles on any topic that interests him.
Add a second quote from you to burnish your credentials. You could also solicit a third party quote from a satisfied client to build credibility. For our release, I'll use a second quote from myself:
“The key to making money online is the ability to write good content that is helpful,” John said. “People are searching online every day for advice, how-to’s, recipes, and product reviews, and you just have to do the research to find a popular niche. What makes this different than ‘get rich quick’ online scams is that it takes hard work and not everyone can stick through it during the long, initial start up period where your articles only earn pennies per day. The longer your articles have been published, the better Google treats them in search engines. You start out making a penny per day, then a dime per day, then eventually a dollar, with the goal of $100 per day. It will probably take me 1000 articles and a few years to get to that point, but I’m committed to getting there.”
CLOSING AND CONTACT INFO
You should close your release with the information necessary to contact you when a reporter would like to take you up on your offer and conduct an interview.
REDACTED is available to help local writers with advice on how to get started with online writing, and encourages anyone interested to email him at INFO@MarriedWithDebt.com. Reporters interested in scheduling an interview should call John at 555-5555.
Traditional press release format will have the symbols “# # #” to indicate the release has ended. You may also use “~30~”
DISTRIBUTING YOUR RELEASE
I could write a whole article on how to distribute your release, but in a nutshell you should identify local newspaper, TV and radio reporters who cover local stories, or human interest stories, and email them your release. Do not simply blast it to every reporter on the roster, or email it to a general “contact us” email address. You should also call the news outlets and get the email address of the Assignment Editor, whose job it is to identify good stories and assign a reporter to cover them.
After one day, if no one has called, make follow up calls to the reporters you emailed, as well as the Assignment Editors. Ask them if they received your release, then ask if they are interested in doing a story.
If your local efforts are unsuccessful, it’s time to branch out to nearby cities or large markets. There are services online that can distribute your release widely - some are paid, some are free.
OUR SAMPLE RELEASE
Just because you operate a cutting-edge online business doesn’t mean you should ignore the good old fashioned press release. By getting a local newspaper story about you, or a TV interview about your online business, you can tap your local market as well as potentially grow your worldwide audience.
Each interview you do goes towards establishing your credibility in your niche, and could lead to recurring interviews and appearances when reporters are covering a topic that falls under your niche.
So what are you waiting for? As a writer, you should get to work immediately to promote your online business with a press release.
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