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Issue: 43 - Jul 16, 2012
Use the Power of a Press Release
By: Maureen Blaney Flietner
Mavourneen LLC/MBF Communications
Legitimate news is always worth an announcement. Of course the news will go on your website, facebook page, in your blog or twitter post.
But don’t forget a press release. It’s the press release to the news media that can help drive readers to those sites. In addition, once the release has been published by your targeted news outlets, there’s the chance it will be picked up by other media.
That was the case with one recent client. A press release about a new business was used by each of the news outlets on the media list. One newspaper was so intrigued it set up an  interview for a feature article. That article then was picked up by a major news outlet that sent its own team for a videotaped interview. It all generated calls from new clients that would otherwise probably not have been reached.   
How do you create a press release? Here are the basics. Research your media outlets. Some  prefer the press release as a Word document attached to your email. Others want the press release included in the body of the email. Whichever is used, write a descriptive title in the subject line. A press release format typically includes: 

Identification information 
Traditionally contact information has been included in the upper lefthand corner, but it also can be placed at the bottom. It might look like this:

For Immediate Release
For more information, contact (Person’s Name)
(Name of Company)
(Phone number/email address/website)
You may want to include your Twitter handle or other social media contact information. However, only include contact methods you monitor daily. Nothing stops interest faster than being unreachable. 

A headline

Keep it straightforward and relevant to the particular news outlet: “New veterinary practice opens in XXX.” Better yet, try to find what is special in your announcement to draw interest. For examples: “New laser service gives local pets pain relief” or “Veterinary goes high tech: Local animal hospital adds MRI.”
The headline will typically be in a slightly larger font size (12-14 point) than the body copy. You might also consider a subhead that further details the announcement.
A concise, well-written summary targeting your audience(s)
Many news outlets have limits on the length of announcements so keep your article concise. One page is great.
The body of the news release typically starts with the dateline: the city in which the practice is located and the date of the press release. The next few paragraphs contain the news. Be sure to include the traditional Who, What, Where, When, Why and How to cover the topic. 

The trick is to write in a journalistic “inverted pyramid” style. It’s no time to write for a surprise ending. The main details are at the top with supporting facts further down in order of importance. Articles are often cut from the bottom up.

Consider the audience for the press release and write with it in mind. That means you might be writing one, two or more press releases depending on the audiences for your media list. A press release going to a news outlet for a business group will probably read differently than the press release being sent to the local news outlet for public consumption.
Make it interesting. Don’t fill it with formal quotes talking about how excited the business is to bring a service/product to the area. Instead, talk about what that new business/product/service/staff person will mean to your audience. 

A photo with caption

If the news outlet will take photo attachments, include a head shot if it is a new staff member or a photo of a person performing the announced service or using the announced new equipment. Make sure the photo is clear, uncluttered and available as a high-resolution image of 300 dpi at approximately 4x6 inches. If the news outlet does not accept attachments, have images ready if you are contacted. 
A short note to the editor at the end

The short message – use italics to separate it from the article – can inform the news outlet whether you have photos/video available for use and that your expert is available for interviews.

It’s important to then be ready for contact from the media. That might include informing your receptionist/front desk, having a patient lined up to be available if you are going to demonstrate a product or service, having a staff person who will agree to participate, and having a client willing to participate or allow news media on their property.
When your press release has been written, set it aside for a day and then review it. Has it captured your message? Check it for spelling and typos. Double-check to make sure your contact information is correct.
Email the release to those on your media list. If you don’t see it published in a few weeks, consider calling the media contacts. At times this extra effort can mean the difference between an announcement still sitting in the Inbox and one pulled out for review and publication.
Maureen Blaney Flietner, a former journalist, is a fulltime freelance writer, editor and designer. Visit her website at or contact her by email: