A press release is a statement prepared for distribution to the media and a great (and inexpensive!) means of promoting an event. Press releases are a tried and true method of getting the word out about what you’re doing, and best of all, they’re basically free. Basically, you want to create a mini news story that demonstrates the newsworthiness of an event or group to editors and journalists. Remember these few really important points below when creating a press release.
- Choose your goal publications. Who do you want reading this story? Brainstorm all the places – weekly newspapers, blogs, local magazines, etc. that people in your target demographic visit. Narrow the list down to the six or eight that you think get the broadest visibility for your event.
- Identify Contacts. Many blogs, weekly papers, magazines, or news websites have information somewhere on who to send your press release to – check “Contact Us” or “Press” links. You probably want to find the lead arts and entertainment journalist for the publication with information on crafting news. Sending your press release to the right person at an organization will save you lots of headaches. Never spam a contact – no one likes an inbox crammed full of duplicate information.
- Follow the standard formatting of a press release closely. Google “sample press releases” for formatting. Blog editors and journalists receive dozens of press releases each day, so they have set standards and expectations that you must conform to have your release read, let alone published. Make it easy for them to print your story.
- Think and write like a reporter! What makes your story different and special? Your goal is to do make your press release so interesting and well written that the journalist will want to publish your story “as is.” People in this field are looking for a story that will satisfy editors and readers, not just promoting you.
- Write in the third person. This is a no-brainer, right?
- The lead paragraph should include the who, what, when, where and whys of the article. When promoting a specific event, include dates, locations and other relevant details on your materials, including whether or not there’s an entry fee, or if people should RSVP.
- Establish the details, then include a quote or statistic if possible to ground your piece, and relevant links. Establish your event as a real happening. Why is this newsworthy, as opposed to simply being an advertisement for your event?
- Include at least one fantastic image. The press release itself should adhere to standard formatting guidelines,additional promotional materials can really help the story shine. Determine what the newspaper/magazine/blog’s requirements are for image size and resolution, and Send an appropriate image. Use only beautiful photos. Don’t overwhelm the reporter with glitter and fluff, just include strong images that support your release.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread! Give your press release to people you know who are harsh critics and good writers. Don’t send out something with obvious typos or spelling errors.
At your event, try to ask attendees how they heard about the show. If it’s an online event, follow up via email with buyers to inquire about how they found your work. Use this information to determine what the most effective means of promoting was. Be sure to capture strong, clear photographs of the event with a wrap-up report to blogs, papers or other places the press release was published, summarizing the success of the project, and giving dates of future similar events you may be planning.
While they may seem like a bit of work, once you get the hang of successful press release writing, they’re an invaluable tool for promoting your work and events. Next to word of mouth, press releases are the best and least expensive methods of promoting you have at your disposal. Make the most of them!