fingers on open book

Press releases are hard work!  Small businesses can rarely find issues that are actually newsworthy every month, let alone every week.  If your business is in an area that features in the news regularly then that might help, but a good press release has to tick at least one of these boxes:

  • Of real interest to the publication’s readers
  • A new slant on something either topical or relevant to the readers
  • Controversial

Finding subjects that relate to your business that tick one of those can be challenging.  And if you think that a new team member, a new location, winning an award (unless it’s something really unusual) or opening a new business ticks the first box – think again.  These are interesting to YOU, but not something that will excite most readers.

Even a new product, service or range of products isn’t particularly interesting unless it’s got a twist, a human interest story attached or is something nobody else does.

It’s tough – but there are ways to get into the press regularly – without that level of struggle.

Step 1:  Know your ideal client well.

Step 2:  Know what they read; their industry journals, business publications they like.

Step 3:  Research these publications so you know the style, the type of content and get a feel for the readers.

Step 4:  Create two or three article synopses that would fit that publication.

Step 5:  Write yourself a biography that sets you up as an expert in your field.

Step 6:  Ring up the publication’s editor. 

If there is more than one find out which one would be likely to manage the content in the area you want to write for.  For instance, if you’re in IT you might contact the Technical Editor, if you’re in marketing, then it could be the Features Editor.  Bear in mind that many industry journals run on a shoestring and often only have one main editor and a bunch of freelance contributors.  If you can’t find a phone number, the next best option is an email.

Your aim is to pitch a regular column so you’ll need to be able to outline why a column on your subject will add value for the readers (and for the publication) and the potential subjects you could cover.

Step 7:  If you get a positive response – you’ll probably be asked for one article to test you out.  Make sure it has good grammar, accurate spelling and correct punctuation – yes, they have editors, but you’re trying to make a good impression!

If you’re lucky enough to get a regular column then stick to any deadlines you’re given and ensure you deliver exactly what you’re asked for.  If it’s 500 words, 450 is OK (they’ll fill the space with graphics or by clever spacing), 550 isn’t – they’ll cut chunks out of it – and they may not be the chunks you’d want cutting.  One newspaper I wrote for once simply deleted the final paragraph to make it fit – so the article stopped abruptly!

If you are lucky enough to get a regular column, schedule writing time and thinking about content time too.  Good luck!