The press offers a potentially invaluable marketing opportunity for SMEs, particularly if you’re cash-strapped and don’t have a big marketing budget. But everybody wants free editorial exposure and editors are inundated on a daily basis with hundreds of press releases. If you’re smart and design your press packs with a little bit of extra thought, you can increase your chances of ending up in an in-tray instead of the dustbin.
Kate Sidley, managing editor of Your Child magazine, receives over 100 press releases in an average monthly production cycle, and she’s developed an eye for the ones that really stand out. Her first point to business owners is to ensure that their product or service, and the related press release, is appropriate to the magazine. “Don’t write one press release and send it to every publication in the country in the hope that someone will run it!” she advises. On this point, make sure you know and understand the magazines you are sending the press pack to. And, as Sidley points out, there are many benefits to be gained from familiarising yourself with the publication: “If you actually read through the magazine, you will probably find interesting opportunities, beyond just sending a general release or product. You might be in a position to propose something specific that will get you much more benefit. Just as you are looking for publicity, publications are looking for good content, stories and angles. Think how you can provide that,” she says.
But targeting relevant publications is only half the battle won. In order to make a press release really stand out, its content needs to be spot on. Sidley points out some of the basics: “It should have all the basic info, like price, availability and contact details.” She is also quick to add, “This should go without saying, but the release should be well-written and not full of typos – you’d be surprised!” Remember that your target audience are wordsmiths and they’ll see errors in spelling and grammar in an instant – mistakes like these are terribly costly, giving your company a shoddy, unprofessional image.
Keep it short and simple
Editors are busy, deadline-driven people so, as Sidley points out, the best press releases are those that are short and simple. “Stick to one main idea at a time, rather than trying to put everything into one press release,” she advises. From a functional point of view, bear in mind that no editor will spend time retyping a hard copy document so if you send a physical press pack, email a copy of the release as well. And when doing so, send low resolution photographs as jpegs to avoid clogging up their inbox.“You can offer to send high resolution versions of the photographs they will be using,” points out Sidley.
Samples of products are a must. They allow the writer to experience your product first-hand, giving you a greater chance of leaving a lasting impression in their mind. In addition to this, many magazines shoot their own photographs of products, to ensure consistency with their own look-and-feel and quality.