Estimated reading time: 2 minutes By Louise Bennett
In a nutshell, the answer is 'yes!' And press releases are still as popular today as they have been since 1906 (the year of the first press release). This is mostly because they're inexpensive for all businesses, whether large or small. To write a press release and email it to editors costs nothing. The only investment you need to make is to get it written properly by a professional copywriter.
If an editor decides to print your press release, and also uses it as part of an article in a magazine, there's no cost to your business - you get the space for free. That compares favourably to spending hundreds, or possibly thousands, on paid advertising. More on benefits here.
In addition to low cost, another major benefit of a press release is that the publicity it generates is credible and authentic. Most readers ignore (or are highly suspicious of) paid advertising. However, to see an article in print - without the 'annoyance' of advertising - rings true for the majority of readers. Furthermore, professionals in most fields will respect the written word of a reputable magazine or newspaper.
On the downside, there is no guarantee that a press release will be used by an editor, and even if it is used, it might not generate genuine interest or leads. This is the gamble. Some press releases are just ignored, whereas others can succeed on a truly spectacular level.
What makes a successful press release?
Editors look out for press releases that contain news (obviously!). The headline must attract attention (80% of your success is in the headline) and the article must be well-written, in a journalistic style. Another obvious point is that the press release must be targeted for a specific reader. If your business sells travel deals, then you need to write a press release that's going to appeal to your ideal customers, that will engage your readers in some way and get them excited about what you do as a company and how you can benefit them.
However, there's a fine line between what constitutes a press release and what is blatant self-promotion. If you're a travel business trying to sell tours to volcanic islands for example, then your press release might accompany an article on 'How to stay safe while trekking up an active volcano" - which might indeed make riveting reading for your target reader.
You can write a press release about numerous topics, including:
A new, old or improved product
An 'iterated' product
A new application of an existing produce
Publications, brochures or surveys
Speeches or presentations
Awards and honours
A new website
Tips and 'how to' advice
Special events or programs
Charitable achievements or goals
The list goes on, but you can see from the above that most effective press releases will benefit the public in some way.
How to write your own press release (if you don't have a professional writer)
If you just don't want to hire a professional copywriter to put your press release together, then at least educate yourself on what constitutes a successful press release, otherwise you'll be wasting your time.
In summary So, do press releases really help your small business these days? Yes. Although they might sound old-fashioned now, there are several benefits to using them. They're cheap, reach thousands of readers, and earn respect and credibility (among other things). You can read more about these points here.
I really look forward to hearing your comments, so do feel free to get in touch.