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Writing an Effective Press Release

by Chip Weinert, Editor, Wind Tracks Magazine

It doesn't matter what business you're in: you need more exposure. The more people who are exposed to your business, the better your chance of doing MORE business. You don't have to be a media expert: you all have imagination, ambition and common sense, and that's just what's needed to get positive publicity.

All media are looking for "news." You can capitalize on this. Your new product is news. Your new employee is news. Your weekly barbecue is news. Your shop mascot just had puppies; that's news. ANY EVENT is news and worthy of the public's notice.

To distribute this new, three things should be considered: 1) how to write about them, 2) the format you use, and3) how to get them published.

1. Writing:

  • Assign one of your sales staff (or yourself) the job of writing one press release a month and sending it out to any and all magazines, newspapers, radio and television stations, major customers and suppliers.
  • Don't spend more than a half hour on writing it.
  • Remember "The ABC's" of writing. Accuracy, Brevity, Clarity.
  • Answer the "Who What When Where Why and How?" questions and get out.
  • One double-spaced page is all the space you get.
  • Make sure that the person who's reading it can see all the info on getting back in touch with you at a glance.
  • Use the sample format as style guides.

2. Formating

The Text: Type-written in 12 point type double-spaced one page on your letterhead. It's a good idea to have a handwritten note to the person in charge. It makes it more personalized. Something like, "Hey Chip, the latest issue looks great! Thanks for the coverage!" always gets my attention.  

Photos: ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS include some type of camera-ready art. Even if it's just your logo! Editors don't want to see "gray pages."

The best package consists of three items:

  • An action shot showing the product in use.
  • If you're promoting a person use an action shot that shows the person's face.
  • A studio-type shot with the product or person against a solid color background.
  • A camera-ready version of your logo and/or the logo of the product and/or service discussed in the press release. Product samples are great, but still include a camera-ready graphic.
  • Don't expect the publication to take a photo of it.


3. Getting them published:

  • Know the deadlines.
  • Know the name of the person who's responsible for gathering news about the subject you're promoting at the time. It may be the Sports Desk, Community Calendar, Business, etc. depending on what your message is. Check the publication's mast head for names, addresses and phone #'s.
  • Also check Bacon's Publicity Checker and Bacon's Radio/TV Directory. (800)621-0561.
  • After you've found the right person, invite them to your event or to come take a free lesson.

Frequency: BOMBARD 'EM! Drown them in your messages. The more times they get something from you the more your chances of getting it into print. Don't be discouraged or call to complain if nobody uses your release; just try again the next time.

In Conclusion:

The two things to remember are: be brief with your words and include a graphic. I had a journalism professor who told me that a good Press Release should be like a woman's dress, "Long enough to cover the subject yet short enough to keep it interesting." She has been proven right time and again. Just don't procrastinate: if you don't do it, there's always someone else who will.


A well written press release

A poorly written press release

[This article was reprinted with permission from American Windsurfing Industries Association- AWIA.]


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