PR 101: How to Write & Pitch a Press Release

All entrepreneurs have a story behind why they started their business. And these origin stories are compelling to your customers, the greater public, and the media. Small businesses are something everyone can rally behind, as they’re points of pride and identity for a community. And people are curious to know a part of the shop owner, maker, or contractor’s story. One way to get these stories out there, is through the media.

Elements of a Press Release:

Press releases don’t have to be dry and boring, but they are formal, official announcements covering something new or significant about your small business. That could be a grand opening, award, community impact, collaboration, or the story behind your launch. They should promote your venture, archive important data for future use, and hopefully, improve your SEO (Forbes, How to Write a Press Release).

Things to Consider before you Begin Writing:

– What is newsworthy about my story and why does it matter?
– Who is my audience (which media outlets will I pitch the release to)?

Components of a Successful Release:

– Catchy title.
– Summarize subject in the first paragraph and write in the third person.
– Provide a call to action and relevant information in the body (i.e. Join Huckleberry Cafe at their Grand Opening on Sat. July 2nd…)
– Boiler plate including key information about your business.

Releases are ideally one page in length. Reference an AP Stylebook for grammar, punctuation or formatting questions.

Press Release Example:

Check out the Boiler Plate, “About Business Impact NW:” at the bottom of the full release.

Pitching Your Press Release:

Once you have had one to two people edit your release for any grammatical errors, flow and relevancy, you’re ready to send your release to media outlets.

Emailing Your Release – Who to Contact:

– When pitching a newspaper, magazine, or radio station, find the contact for a managing editor or an editor specific to your industry, or the subject of your release (i.e. Business Editor or Food Editor).
– When pitching a blog, find the blogger who covers topics most relevant to your release.
– When pitching your release to a TV station, find an associate producer or producer to contact.

How to Format the Email:

– Like with your release title, write a short and catchy email subject line (it can be the same as your press release title).
– Write a brief email introducing yourself, your business and the purpose of your press release.
– Include “If you are interested in an interview, please call me at ___ or send an email to ____.”
– Below your email signature, paste the press release into the body of the email. If you prefer, you may send a Word Document of the release, but never send a .pdf file of your press release. Editors may use sections of your release in their story and it is much easier for them if they can simply copy and paste sections.

Followup:

Editors get a crazy number of emails every day. And sometimes your pitch is relevant to what they’re working on at the moment. Sometimes it is not. One week after pitching the release, feel free to follow up via email or phone.

If you’re pitching an outlet that publishes their media kit or editorial calendar online, you can see what themes they’re covering during which months, so that’s something to consider as well.

Benefits of Earned Media:

Getting a story written about your small business in a local newspaper, industry magazine, or blog is something to celebrate! It provides your business with accolades and introduces your small business to new audiences.

Best of luck in sharing your small business story, and happy pitching!

About the author

Megan V. Torgerson

Megan is Business Impact NW's Communications & Outreach Officer and a candidate for Seattle University's Arts Leadership MFA program. She holds a BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing from the University of Montana and is passionate about storytelling, nature and cultivating community by elevating our unique stories. Megan grew up on a farm and ranch in Montana and is passionate about supporting small business owners from rural communities.

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