Having your business appear in your local newspaper can be a great way to stay in the public eye and reach new customers who may be right on your doorstep.
One way of doing this is by sending a press release about something your company has been up to, or something that is coming up. Newspapers receive dozens of press releases a day and when an editor or reporter receives yours, they will scan over it to see how much work is required to make it suitable for their publication.
A good press release (from the point of view of the business) should be one which requires little to no amendment by the newspaper. You don’t want to spend hours on your masterpiece, only to find it rehashed, chopped down to a few lines and crammed on the corner of a page some weeks down the line.
With that in mind, here are some of our tips to make your press releases more accessible to your local paper.
Find The News Angle
Newspapers generally won’t be interested in giving away free advertising. That’s how they may view your press release if they don’t consider it to be newsworthy.
For example, “Butcher sells sausages” isn’t news. That’s a story about a business doing what it does every day and is very unlikely to be covered by a local paper. “Butcher celebrates 50th year on high street” however, or “Butcher’s plans for shop expansion will create five new jobs” would be of far more interest to the general public, and therefore to the local paper. There are many things your business could be doing which might make a story.
Are you about to celebrate a milestone? Are your staff taking part in an event to raise money for charity? Are you doing something which in some way benefits the local community? It may even be something a little quirky or more of a human-interest piece which people might like to read about, for example, having a celebrity drop in unexpectedly or a well-known, long serving member of staff or volunteer retiring.
If you’re not sure, try to boil the story down to a headline like the ones above. If you saw that headline on a page, would you read on?
Getting The Priorities Right
So, you’ve found your news angle and you have lots of information you want to get across. But before you start typing, take a moment to think about all of the elements of your story. It’s important to get the most relevant details about the actual subject close to the top.
You wouldn’t want to start with an exciting intro that reads: “A book shop owner spoke of her delight after conquering an adrenaline-pumping charity challenge” – then follow that with five or six lines about the history of the business.
Readers want to know what sort of hair-raising stunt the book shop owner took on; how much money was raised and for which charity. They might then enjoy some emotive quotes from her telling of the terrifying but rewarding experience for a good cause.
That’s not to say you can’t put some information about your business in, of course – but too much may be interpreted as an attempt to get a free ad, so try to strike a balance and avoid making it the focus of the piece.
Cut Down On The Jargon
Business and trade publications may be geared towards professionals in particular industries, but newspapers are normally aimed at the general public. While you may know a great deal about the intricacies of your industry and your business, the average person buying the paper very likely won’t have that level of knowledge. Be wary of sending out a press release if it has a lot of technical language, abbreviations or jargon specific to your line of work. If the reporter or editor doesn’t understand it, they may well just cut it out or try to simplify it themselves.
Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to aim for language which can be understood by anyone.
If you must use a bit of jargon, because it is central to the story, perhaps try to follow it with a short explanation of what it means in plain English.
Don’t Overwrite It
Space is precious. It’s quite likely that an editor will have to trim your story down to size in order to fit a gap on their page. You can help them avoid chopping out the important details you want to get across by not writing an excessively long press release.
You should be able to get across the essence and basic details of any story in the first few lines.
What follows should be a little background to give the reader any context needed and perhaps some quotes to add a human voice to your piece.
Try not to repeat details and very similar quotes throughout the story – if it doesn’t add anything, consider leaving it out.
Check It Over Properly
This one seems obvious, but anyone can end up with a few accidental typos in their copy. It’s well worth taking the time to have a thorough read over your press release before you send it out.
Spell check and (where required) fact check your work – names, dates, times and any other particular details. Perhaps even consider asking someone else to have a read. A second pair of eyes might pick up something you have missed.
Anyone can miss mistakes, even newspapers. You can minimise the chance of typos and inaccuracies making it into print by picking up on them before they even leave your outbox.
If writing a press release seems a little overwhelming or maybe it’s something you simply don’t have the time for – why not talk to Spark Social?