So, you’ve started up a home-based business and you have zero dollars in your publicity budget. What do you do now?
Crank up the fax or find postage and photocopying money. You’ll be embarking on the poor man’s publicity campaign: sending out the press release.
There are really only three categories of information you need to know to start your campaign: form, effective content and where to send it.
I’ve found journalists to be a cranky, overworked bunch. Assume the gal on the other end of the fax machine is some junior reporter-intern hopped up on a caffeine-speedball cappuccino, living on 2 hours of sleep and a dream. Assume she is just itching for a reason to throw your precious press release in the recycling bin. Ensure that it’s properly formatted and you’ll at least escape this fate - for now at least.
1. It needs to be on 8 ½ x 11 inch paper with one inch margins all round. Use only one side of the paper if mailing it out.
2. In the upper left-hand corner type in capital letters FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. If you want your release held back until a certain date, then type for example: FOR RELEASE JUNE 6.
3. In the upper right-hand corner type the date you’re actually sending it out. Things get lost in offices or mixed in the wrong pile. When your reporter-intern finds it, your release date should tell her if it’s still current or not.
4. Try to keep it to one page. If you absolutely can’t, then subdivide large hunks of information into smaller ones under their own headings, i.e. your biography, how your project evolved, etc. It’s much easier to read and absorb this way.
5. Use action verbs to begin your paragraphs.
6. If you’re sending your release out to TV or radio stations phonetically spell out difficult names to ensure easy pronunciation.
7. Spell check thoroughly.
8. Use bullet points or numbering where you can.
9. If you go longer then one page put a sub-title or phrase at the upper left corner of the second page describing the next section of text, ie. NAKED HAMLET if you’re directing a bit of nude Shakespeare.
10. Always double-check to ensure that you’ve included a contact name, phone number (day and night) and an address. Place this information in the upper right hand corner under the date.
11. And lastly, at the bottom type three hash marks - # # # - to mark the end or your release.