Too many small businesses operate under the false assumption that they aren't newsworthy. They watch from the outside as neighboring businesses and larger competitors soak in all of the local and national media coverage and garner the clout that comes with it.

However, the reality is that just about any small business can be newsworthy. One of the most basic, tried-and-true ways to generate positive attention around your small business is through a press release.

A press release is an official written statement or announcement from an individual or organization, written for news media and intended for subsequent dissemination to the public. Press releases can serve as a courtesy to relevant media organizations, alerting them of potential news stories and neatly packaging facts and color around them. For small businesses, they can serve as a catalyst for valuable press coverage and help an organization amplify its message, visibility and credibility.

What warrants a release?

Press releases don't have to be earth-shattering announcements. In fact, some of the most common small business practices or occurrences can make for newsworthy announcements.

Many trade publications, business journals and local news organizations regularly cover business moves like company launches, office openings, relocations, acquisitions, product announcements, events and key hires. Even time-driven events like milestones and anniversaries can spark the interest of relevant new outlets if positioned properly in a release. 

How do I write one?

It's critical to adhere to common formatting practices if you want your release to be noticed and taken seriously. A simple Google search will show several appropriate variations to choose from, including this free template from HubSpot.

When writing a press release, start with the most important information in the beginning and work your way down to minor details at the end. That means beginning by covering the who, what, where, when, why and how. Be sure to include a few useful and relevant hyperlinks as appropriate, such as a link to your website and pages where readers can access additional information related to your announcement. Those links can be helpful to the media, and they also can provide you with referral traffic to your site along with search engine optimization value. These are only a few best practices, but there are many resources online to help you craft an impactful release.

Also, be sure that the release includes the name, phone number and email address of your media relations contact. That is the person within your company-- or an outside contractor-- who will be responsible for answering and coordinating media requests for interviews, information and additional resources.

How can I distribute it?

There are several press release distribution platforms available online. PR Newswire and Business Wire are common players in this space, with distribution services coming at a fee. There are free distribution services available online, too, but do your research and exercise caution before publishing your release on a less reputable platform.

Whether or not you decide to use a distribution service, you'll want to manually conduct targeted outreach around the release. Identify the relevant news outlets that cover the type of announcement you're making, and create a list including the reporters, editors or producers responsible for that beat and their contact information. In some instances, the general newsroom will be your best bet. When you're ready to manually distribute the release, email is generally the preferred means distribution for news outlets.

It's also a good idea to create a news page on your website to publish your press releases and links to any subsequent media coverage. Be sure to share them on social media when they're ready to be made public, and encourage your team to share and engage with the post to further its reach.

The most important takeaway is to understand that your business is newsworthy, and there are audiences interested in learning about your announcements and achievements. Unless you have systems and processes in place to deliver your news to the media through quality press releases, the press and the public are unlikely to discover your company news on their own.

Published on: Oct 29, 2018