By: Krista L. Mohr
1. Only issue press releases that are newsworthy.
What is a newsworthy press release? In general, a newsworthy press release addresses
issues that your prospects or customers are grappling with and demonstrates why they, as
well as the press, should care about the press release as well as your company. Here are
some examples: a new service offered by your company that has unique positioning against
competitors; a new product (1); a special
pricing deal; a product or service bundle; an announcement with another vendor such as a
strategic alliance or joint development; results of a survey which positively impacts your
business; several key customer wins; winning some sort of contest; and so on.
mind that a newsworthy release doesnt guarantee that it will be covered immediately,
or at all, in your target publications. There are different levels of news that can be
assigned to press releases. For example, a Level I release is newsworthy, has customer
references, and industry analyst references. These releases are posted on a wire service
and are typically covered. A Level II release is newsworthy and has one type of reference
such as a vendor, a customer, or an industry analyst. These releases are typically posted
on a wire service and have over a 50% chance of being covered. A Level III release is
newsworthy and is basically an FYI to keep people up to date on your company. An example
might be winning a contest, or a new service or pricing offering which lacks an analyst
reference. Level III may be posted to the wire. This type of release is typically mailed
to your target editorial list and to customers/prospects. Level III releases issued by
start ups have less than a 50% chance of being covered but are an important way to
maintain editorial mindshare.
2. Define Target Press
Your target press list consists of the names, addresses, phone, fax,
and email addressed of the key press youd like to cover your company and technology.
Press lists can typically be divided into three parts which include: Tier 1 press, or
press and freelance reporters who write for publications that publish weekly or bi-weekly;
Tier 2 press, target monthly publications; and Tier 3 publications typically include your
target vertical market publications, like Selling Power, given that the vertical
marketplace (in this case consists of sales professionals) is not your primary
Your tier 1, 2, and 3 press lists may include a variety of publication types. Trade
press are reporters or editors of publications in your specific area of business. For
example, if you are in the PC business, PC Week would be one of your target trade
publications; or Rolling Stone might be a target publication if you have a music-oriented
product or site. Business publications focus mainly on business. These publications, such
as the Wall Street. Journal, do have a variety of reporters and columnists including the
technology "beat" or area. Articles in business publications typically cover
topics/news from a business angle such as how the technology is changing the way a company
When developing your target press list, make sure you determine who at the publication
covers your product or service area. Do not use a blanket distribution strategy to
disseminate your press release to publications. It drives reporters and editors crazy.
Netpreneur Exchange has a list of technology and Internet beat Reporters and Media Contacts you can use
to get started building distribution plan, just remember that journalists frequently move
between beats and publications.
3. Capture the readers attention with the headline.
In order to capture the reporters attention, the headline (2) is in all capital letters, boldfaced, succinct,
includes an action verb, and gives a benefit if possible. Lets say youre
issuing a press release on a new version of a product. The headline should be something
NET IMPACT DEVELOPS BREAKTHROUGH
TRAINING AND COACHING SYSTEM
Net Impact Announces its new product E@SY and its Entry
to the Marketplace
The first four or five words are what people will see when they log into the wire services
such as PR Newswire and Business Wire. Wire services are discussed in #10.
The text underneath the headline is called the subtitle. The subtitle is just that--
additional title information that explains the news value of your press release. Its
not necessary to include a subtitle.
4. Include your products positioning, key features, and benefits to
Positioning, key features, and benefits (3)
are key elements that press will want to include in an article. Positioning is something
that can be conveyed succinctly in a company representative quote or in the first or
second paragraph of the release. Key features and benefits are deserving of their own
subhead (capital letters and lower case) in the press release.
5. Include a customer and, or analyst quote if possible.
Including a customer or analyst quote (4)
in your release helps raise its level of newsworthiness and chance of being covered by the
press. Its also helpful to offer these references to key press contacts to encourage
them to write an interesting article. You will need to obtain permission from the analyst
or customer to take press calls, and you will want to coach them on what to say before the
press release is issued. Its also wise to call customers to let them know a member
of the press will be calling.
6. Include a quote from the president of your company or other appropriate
Including a quote from the president (5) or
company spokesperson is a useful way to convey what the release means to the company and
its future. (It also promotes the name to the press to get exposure.)
7. Include pricing and availability information.
Your press release must include pricing
information, (6) such as the cost for software or subscription fees for content
products. Sometimes exact pricing may be inappropriate, for example with consulting
services or businesses based on advertising model. In such cases, provide as much
information as appropriate, especially if it is a key distinguishing feature of your
business, site, product, or service. Price points are facts reporters want to include in
an article. If you make the pricing information succinct, it helps ensure accurate
coverage. If you dont want to list the high-end pricing, give an example for typical
Press will want to include availability
information (7) in a subsequent article - whether the product/service is available
immediately or within a few months. Keep in mind that you will also want to include where
the product or service can be purchased as well as number to call to make the purchase.
For example, let the reader know if the product or service is available directly from your
company or through an integrator or other reseller. If the product may be purchased over
the Internet, let the reader know the URL.
8. Include contact information for press to receive additional information.
So press know with whom to follow up, its important to include company contact
information, a telephone number as well as an email address, at the top of the press
release under the heading "For more
information contact." (8) Contacts are typically whoever handles marketing or
marketing communications for your company, and your PR representative if you have one. It
is also crucial to include your companys boilerplate
(9), which is essentially your companys mission and strategy, at the end of the
press release. You will also want to include your companys URL address in the
boilerplate. For releases about joint ventures or partnerships, its common to
include contacts from each company.
9. Remember press release formatting rules.
Your press release should be double spaced or 1.5 spaced with the appropriate usage of
boldfaced characters. Also, your press release should be succinct and not exceed three
pages in length. If the release is longer than three pages, see what you can take out and
put into a separate document such as a product or service overview. When deleting
information from the press release, you need to make sure that it can still stand by
itself without any accompanying documents. Your press release should also include (more) (10) at the end of the page so the reader
knows to continue. A ### is used to mark the end of the press release. Trademark
information follows the ### (11).
10. So youve written the release, now what do you do with it?
When planning a press release, you will need to determine its Level of newsworthiness (I, II, or III) and plan accordingly. Typically,
Level I and II press releases will be placed on an electronic news wire service such as PR Newswire or Business
wire, and are faxed or emailed to your target list of editors/reporters. Journalists
log onto the newswires daily looking for areas of interest. Also note that you can control
the geographic areas and publications/media that receive your press release through the
wire services select distribution list. You can find links to wire services and
other online PR organizations and services in the Netpreneur Exchanges PR Machine. And be sure to
send your release to firstname.lastname@example.org.
After you put your release on the wire, youll want to follow up via snail mail
and mail the press kit, which includes the release and accompanying information such as
company backgrounders or product/service white papers. Level III releases may be placed on
the wire and should be mailed to your target press list.
Dont forget to add your press release to your Web site. Press release pages are
typically added to the "Press Release" link, which is often a link under the
"About Your Company" area of your home page. This is important because your
press release invites people to your Web page, and because you dont want to miss any
opportunities! Make sure your page is up-to-date and looking good.
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