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Promoting your business for free using press releases

Press releases (sometimes called media releases) are a great way to effectively tell a large number of people about your business.

Few people realise that when implemented correctly, press releases can actually result in more effective publicity than what is possible from other promotional methods such as advertising. Furthermore, press releases cost very little (you can even write them yourself for free), making them a viable option for all business owners.

Because the information contained in press releases may be reported by the media, the publicity press releases create is usually considered more credible and is noticed by more people than advertising.

If you are considering using press releases to promote your business, it is worthwhile approaching an experienced public relations agency to plan and write the press release for you. Well written press releases can be highly effective at increasing awareness about your business, but poorly written press releases can give a permanent bad impression of your brand.

If you choose to use an agency to write a press release, be aware that some try to attract clients by stating that they send press releases to a very large number of journalists. This may have a negative effect on your press release campaign, since well written press releases should be targeted to a few, individual journalists. This is done by changing the news angle.

As an example, suppose you own a garden centre and have just developed a website for it. The website provides gardening information and an online store. A press release for the launch of your new website may be targeted to journalists of a local community newspaper using a news angle that describes how your website contains articles to help the local community choose plants for their garden that match the "street scape" of your city/suburb/town. The same press release may be modified before being sent to a journalist of a national business magazine using a different news angle that focuses on how your website has helped your garden centre expand its operations by being able to sell plants around the country.

Both press releases in the above example would be almost identical, but would be written so as to attract the interest of a particular journalist. This brings us to the next point - creating a press release that is newsworthy.

Journalists receive hundreds of press releases each day. Only one or two may be used. To make your press release stand out from others, it needs to contain news that is relevant to each journalist and of interest for the people reading/watching/listening to the news the journalist writes (such as newspaper readers, radio listeners, a television audience, readers of a news website etc). Journalists may not necessarily be interested in press releases informing them of a new business opening, but they may pay more attention if your business offers something which is the "first of its kind" or some other unique market advantage, not previously available from other businesses.

Experienced public relations agencies will be able to help you develop press releases that meet these, and other press release writing requirements.

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