How to Write a Press Release That Will Stop the Presses

sample press release

This just in: you need publicity for your event! Use these 3 steps to get your event some attention from the press.

So you’re throwing a party (or a grand opening, or a charity event, or some version of a large get-together). First off, I’ll be waiting patiently for my invitation. Secondly, it sounds like you could use some promotional strategies to ensure everyone and their mother knows about your event.

And that’s where we come in. We love promoting, and hosting, small business events, and have learned a thing or two from our successes (and failures!) along the way.

So we’ve broken the entire process down to three simple steps to help you promote your event, complete with a sample press release available for download.

Bonus: Downloadable Press Release Templates

We’ve put together some bonus material for you (for free!) that includes:

  • 2 Customizable press-release templates
  • Writing prompts to help you customize the release
  • Free ebook on how to write a boilerplate

Download your free templates here.

But before you do anything…

Don’t go directly to that sample press release just yet! First, create a Facebook event on your fan page.

In lieu of creating a new page on your website promoting your event, this is a simple, free way to post all of the details associated with your event online.

You can use it to invite your fans, and as a landing page for all online promotions.

Step 1: Press Release Writing 101

Scott’s Marketplace’s senior director of content marketing, Shannon Willoby, says that press release headlines must be straightforward, and, of course, newsworthy — but don’t be afraid to get a little creative with them.

After all, headlines are supposed to entice you to read the release, not bore or confuse you.

As a general rule when it comes to press releases: Keep it simple, identify the main points, and keep the body of your release under a page long.

  • You’re also going to need a hook. What makes your event special? Is it something dramatic, like a grand reopening after being forced to relocate? Or are you encouraging local shopping by holding a cash mob? However run-of-the-mill you may think your event is, find the angle that appeals to the greatest amount of people, and base your press release around that. Include your contact information (or your marketing person’s), including both an email address and phone number. Spell out the details very clearly because when you make reporters search for information, they get frustrated, and your release gets trashed.
  • Make sure it’s newsworthy. It’s not a good idea to blast the media every time you throw an event. Reporters will label you as a wolf-crying business owner, and give you no attention at all. So only reach out to them when you have something that is truly worthy of attention.

Sample Press Release, Anyone? 

Download the sample press release below and customize it with your information (while maintaining the original format) to keep it looking professional.

Grab your free template here.

Once you’ve updated the sample press release with your own content, upload it to a news-wire service to make it available to news sources. You will also get a custom URL to link back to your release from your blog and email outreach.

There are countless wire services to choose from, and you can find free and for-pay options. Here are a few of our favorites: here, here, and here.

Step 2: Create a Media List

When your press release is complete, the next step is preparing a list of people to reach out to with the information. This means researching all of the news outlets in your area, including blog and news sites, and making a contact list. This will make promoting events easier in the future as well.

  • First, search out all of the smaller, community-focused news services, which will most likely be found online. Locally based websites and papers are more likely to give editorial preference to smaller events and businesses.
  • Second, begin researching the larger news outlets in your area and focus your search on stories within your specific city, small business trends, or a topic similar to the event you’re holding.

Generally, reporters will cover the same ‘beat’ or type of news all the time. This means if a reporter wrote about a small business opening in your city last month, he will likely be interested in your small business opening as well.

Try to locate a reporter’s email address, which is usually printed in the physical newspaper at the end of an article. Trying to find them online can be a little more tricky, as most news outlets are wary of publishing their reporters’ contact information all over the internet.

If you can’t find a certain reporter’s information online or in print, most news companies will list a ‘newsdesk@abcnews.com’ or similar email address, where all tips and press releases can be directed.

Step 3: Media Outreach

This is the final piece of the promotional puzzle — getting your completed release in front of journalists and bloggers.

The email is your “foot-in-the-door” to entice them to want to find out more, and hopefully cover the event. (You didn’t think we’d stop at the sample press release, did you? We’ve also crafted some sample media outreach emails for you below!)

For actual journalists:

Reporters want just the facts, ma’am. So it’s best to keep this email informative, pulling out the most news-worthy aspect of your event. Always include your contact information, and include a link to your press release if you have published it, or attach it to the email if you have not.

SAMPLE OUTREACH EMAIL

Subject Line: Local Business Holding Diabetes Research Event

Dear XXX,

I read your recent article on XXX and given your attention to local business trends, I think you’d be interested in XXX [this should be short and to the point, such as: “a local business owner who is holding an event to support diabetes research.”]

ABC Company, a staple of the local business community for over 20 years, is holding an event to benefit diabetes research on Saturday, March 9th from 3pm to 8pm. The event will feature XXX. [Use this space to talk about the event and how it will make a newsworthy impact on the local community – but keep it short.]

“This event is meant to benefit everyone in our local community, and is open to families and pets,” owner Jane Smith said.

I’d be happy to coordinate an interview with ABC Company owner Jane Smith, to discuss the details of the event and how she as a business owner also makes the effort to support local, independent business. Here is a link to our press release for more information: www.YourPressRelease.com

Would you be interested in sharing this story with your readers or speaking with Jane at ABC Company?

I look forward to hearing from you soon! Please let me know if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Your Name & Phone Number

For bloggers:

When contacting bloggers, you can be slightly more informal than your typical media outreach, but not so informal that you’re using incomplete sentences. Rather, you can take a less newsy angle in your email, and adjust the message to fit the content of the blog.

If a blog is on mothers in your community, pose your event as a family-friendly outing.

Here is a sample outreach email for contacting bloggers:

Subject Line: Local Independent Business Event

Hello XXX blog!

I am a huge fan of your content, and I wanted to share an event that might be of interest to your readers.

We are holding a XXX event to celebrate/support/promote XXX on Saturday, October 19 from 2pm – 5pm!

During the event, we’ll be featuring XXX.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in featuring, I would be happy to pass along any information you might need. Here is a link to the event page get more information:

Event: www.FacebookEventPage.com

And to give you a little background on my company: XXX.

Sincerely,

Your Name & Phone Number

Extras:

Event pages: Scour each and every one of your local newspaper and magazines for event calendars. Generally, these are free, and you can submit your event and include a link back to your Facebook event page. Also, list the event on Yelp!, MeetUp, and any other local event listing in your area.

Ongoing social promotion: Leading up to the event, the more social promotion you can do, the better. Generating word-of-mouth buzz around the event will help attract the attention of local journalists. Contact similar local organizations in your area to invite them, encouraging them to promote the event to their own customer base as well.

Never should you ever:

  • Use slang. Just don’t.
  • Send a press release or outreach email without proofing it and reading it out loud multiple times. This is your one shot to make a great impression and stir up some interest in your event.
  • Send mass media outreach emails. Every email you send needs to be tailored to that specific journalist/blogger. It does take some extra time, but if a reporter receives an email that looks like a carbon copy, they’ll do what everyone else does — delete it.
  • We hope our sample press release gets your business the press it deserves! Until you’ve got the hang of it, use the prompts in our sample press release to help you write a killer release of your own.

Grab your free template here.

Writing and distributing press releases is something you should do on a regular basis — when you have news worthy enough to do so.

And while there will be hits, and misses, just as there is with any marketing tactic, each time you will be one step closer to your businesses’ big break! (Or at least see some awesome, steady growth in PR mentions of your business online!)

Don’t Forget to Download Your Sample Press Release!

We’ve put together some bonus material for you (for free!) that includes:

  • 2 Customizable press-release templates
  • Writing prompts to help you customize the release
  • Free ebook on how to write a boilerplate

Download your free templates here.

Need a Little More Help? 

Check out the following posts for more press release tips, writing advice, and more!

What do you think of our sample press release? Share your thoughts below!

About the Author

April Atwood

April is a freelance writer who combines her marketing and writing experience with a love for supporting small businesses. She writes, bikes, and uses a coffee press, but not in the pretentious way.

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