Press releases (also known as news releases) have been the popular way to get key facts of a news story out since they were invented in 1906 by Ivy Ledbetter Lee.
Considered by many to be the founder of modern public relations, Lee sent out what is believed to be the first press release in 1906 reporting a derailed train in Atlantic City that killed 53.
With the constant pervasiveness of social media many question whether press releases are still a viable way to dispense information to the media. Even though they keep their eye on the Twitter stream, many editorial directors still rely on the press release when it’s created properly.
Press releases are best used to announce an event or the launch of product, brand or company. The most effective press releases
- contain the “Five W’s” (who, what, when, where, why–and how) in the first paragraph
- avoid jargon, tech-speak and cute metaphors; stick to simple language that we all can understand
- reference the specific subject and product in the subject line
- give brief background information
- list contact information
Once you’ve submitted your press release, you have no control or idea where it may appear. Typically, announcements of local events appear in local newspapers.
Stories that have a broader appeal may appear in national or even international media. However it’s picked up, your story has the possibility of getting in the hands of bloggers, news media, consumers, retailers and anyone else who is intrigued by your story and sees a slant related to their interests.
Since the media may not contact you when your story appears, set up a Google Alert with your name or subject so you’ll be notified when and if it does appear.
When I offered a publishing workshop in my area, the story appeared in a number of local papers, as well as local directories where I had posted it. Since submitting his press release, my client, Dwayne Carl, has seen his story picked up by The Huffington Post where he was interviewed as well. (See his video interview above.) Dwayne’s book, Out of My Second Closet, is available on Amazon and from other major booksellers.
PRWeb is one of the most popular paid press release services because it goes straight to the search engines. Depending on the package you buy, they will also distribute to Associated Press, regional sources, media digests and more.
If you’re strapped for cash, there is a long list of free press release sites. These are mostly directories where your release may be discovered, but won’t be distributed.
Press releases are indeed still a good idea. You don’t have to decide between press releases and social media. Use them all to create the buzz your event or launch deserve.
To discover the best ways and places to market your book, service or company, get my free report “20 Free tips and Tools for Aspiring Authors and Proactive Entrepreneurs” below. It includes the three best free press release services.