|by Yuwanda Black
This one marketing tool alone has saved me thousands of marketing dollars. And, it's free! What is it? The almighty press release.
Writing press releases require a little skill. But, luckily, it is a skilled than can be learned by anyone who knows how to read and write. And the best part is, the Internet makes it quicker, cheaper and easier than ever to learn how to write and submit press releases.
Are you ready to learn about the most valuable skill every business owner should add to his or her marketing arsenal?
First, what is a press release? Simply put, a press release is a letter sent to media outlets, eg, newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations about your company. They are usually one or two double-spaced pages and highlight a newsworthy event. A press release is not a sales pitch. If you don't remember anything else, remember this.
The media seeks news that is relevant to large numbers of people. So, the fact that you developed a new product is not news. However, the fact that you developed a new product that protects small children from harmful, household germs is news.
Visit www.press-release-writing.com to learn more about this powerful marketing tool. This site has sample releases; a template that guides you step-by-step in writing a release; and writing tips that outline specifically what should be included in a well-written release.
If you are not confident in your writing ability, most sites that distribute releases will write them for you as well. E-releases.com, Imediafax.com and the site mentioned above all offer writing services. I always advise this as a last resort. No one knows or cares about your business like you. If at all possible, try to develop this skill.
Remember, writing is a learned talent. Very few Shakespeares or Hemingways are born. And, this is not like writing a work of fiction. It's storytelling with something you know and love woven into the fabric — your business. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will become. Did I mention that the payoff can be huge!
Some of my biggest breaks have come from press releases. For example, I was interviewed for a newspaper article after a reporter read one of my press releases online and contacted me. The hits to my website tripled for the next few days.
I sent out a press release yesterday and one paper already contacted me and told me where/when the piece will run. And, many more are likely to run my story without telling me. I can always tell when one of my releases has been published. How?
By monitoring the spike in traffic to my website and noting the number of new subscribers to my e-mail list. If they are beyond my usual numbers, even though I may not know where an article ran, these two factors tell the story.
Note: It's unusual for news sources not to contact you when your article/press release runs. This is actually a good thing. Why? Because if your press release is timely and well-written, all an editor has to do is run with it.
As journalists are very busy and work on deadlines, it's refreshing for them to get an article that they can just publish without having to correct bad grammar, spelling errors, fact check sources, etc. FYI, a release that needs work will usually not get picked up — no matter how relevant it is.
The best way to make press releases work for you is to:
1. Cultivate the habit of writing and submitting a certain number of releases on a weekly basis. If you send out one release a week to at least 20 sources, that's over 1,000 times/year you will have contacted the media. At this rate, assuming your releases are timely and well-written, you will get coverage.
2. Develop a media list and stay in contact with them — unobtrusively, of course. Many reporters and editors will seek you out again and again if they perceive you as an expert in a certain area, and you have a reputation for presenting articles that are timely and well-written.
3. Think timely: Note holidays, events that tie in to your product/service, charities that complement your business, etc., and write releases to showcase these. For example, February is Black History Month. I've written and distributed two releases around this theme for EthnicHomeDecor.com, my online retail business.
4. Post all releases in the media section of your website. You do have a media section on your site, don't you? Why do you need one? To reiterate, sometimes journalists will pull articles and press releases from your site and publish them without your knowledge, assuming you've given permission.
An example of a generic permission's statement for your media page: [Note — All articles are originals and may not be republished without the following: Your Name is the owner of XYZ Company. Visit her/him on the web at XYZCompany.com.]
Be sure to post all of your contact information on your media page. This way, media outlets can easily reach you for interviews, product/service information, personal appearances, etc. [See this link to get an idea of what a full media section should look like: http://www.EthnicHomeDecor.com/media.htm.]
If you are a regular reader of EntrepreDoer, you know that a prospect has to see your ad between 7 and 28 times (depending on the source) before they purchase. Keeping your business constantly in the news builds brand awareness that much quicker.
Remember, the easier you make a journalist's job, the more likely you are to receive valuable media coverage. This keeps your business constantly in the news, positioning you for growth on a shoe-string budget at rocket-propelled speed.
Yuwanda Black is an Author/Instructor/Speaker,
and small business expert who advises others on how to achieve the
dream of working for themselves. She has written and published
numerous small business articles and press releases
in promotion of
her ventures. Her current venture, EthnicVendors.com is an
online shopping portal and catalog distributor for ethnic goods and
services. It is a subsidiary of EthnicHomeDecor.com.
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