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A Press Release That Works: What to Do After You Write the Pitch
by Bridget Weston
May 9, 2022
Businesswoman reading the news on a tablet

Whether you’re planning an event or expanding to an additional location, writing a press release that works doesn’t stop when you’ve written the pitch.

A study by Greentarget states that the average journalist is bombarded with as many as 50 press releases a week and spends less than one minute reading each one they open. It’s worth the time to hone every part of your pitch process, like the way you distribute it and how you follow up.

Follow these 6 steps to master the art of the press release and get your small business noticed.

1. Re-read the release to ensure it promotes the story, not the business.

A journalist’s job is to share stories with readers. However, unsuccessful press releases often focus on basic statements, like who, what, when, and where.

But those facts, while important, simply aren’t enough. If you’re hosting a grand opening, focus on an angle relevant to the publication’s readers. For example, if you’re sending the release to a business publication, include information about how the event relates to the business community: How many new jobs will it add to the workforce? Will the location offer increased access to services previously unavailable in the area?

If the press release doesn’t tell a story relevant to readers, revise it until it does. 

2. Write an attention-grabbing email subject line.  

Boring subject lines are a surefire way to fast-track your press release to the trash file. In fact, 79 percent of journalists said the subject line greatly affects whether they open an email, according to Greentarget. Invest time crafting a subject line that grabs the reporter’s attention and lets them know the press release offers story value. 

3. Copy and paste the release into the email.

Like you, journalists are less likely to open unasked-for documents, particularly from senders they don’t know. One way to work around this challenge is to copy and paste your small business press release into the body of the email, giving the reporter direct access to the information without the need to open a file.

4. Send it to the right reporters.

Greentarget’s survey indicates that one of the top pet peeves of journalists with press releases is that they’re not relevant to the issues the journalists cover. Make the most of your time and the reporter’s by only sending press releases related to their area of reporting.

Send your pitch to select reporters who have covered similar stories. For example, if you own a day spa, potential target journalists might include those writing about wellness, health, or lifestyle issues. Or, depending on the reason for the press release, it might be appropriate to send it to general business reporters.

5. Streamline distribution and follow-up with an email platform.

Automated email platforms, like those you may already use to connect with customers, significantly reduce the time and frustration of sending and following up on press releases. Using these platforms allows you to:

  • Segment journalists into lists based on factors like area of reporting (lifestyle, fitness, business, etc.) or region (city, county, state, etc.). When it’s time to send a release, you can easily choose a list that targets the right reporters. 
  • See which reporters have opened the email. If a journalist has opened it more than once, there’s a good chance they’re considering writing about it—and that makes them prime for a follow-up email.

6. Generally, avoid following up by phone.

Reporters are constantly bombarded with information, so sometimes they may view follow-up phone calls from people they don’t know as interruptions. The most effective way to respect a reporter’s time—and avoid being labeled a pest—is to send a brief follow-up email within one or two days to confirm you’ve sent the information to the right person.  

If a journalist doesn’t respond to the original release or follow-up, assume they’re not interested. Repeated attempts on your part to get the story covered will only make them less likely to open your releases in the future.

Crafting a press release that works is just one part of a successful strategy to market your small business. SCORE mentors can help you create a doable marketing plan that attracts and retains customers. Find your mentor today.

About the author
Bridget Weston
Bridget Weston
Bridget Weston is the CEO of the SCORE Association, where she provides executive leadership and works directly and collaboratively with the Board of Directors to establish the vision and direction of SCORE.
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