Press releases for your small business

by Jason Dean 

newspaperIf you run a small business in a small town, press releases can generate some pretty big buzz. That’s because small-town newspaper reporters are always looking for something — anything! — to write about. Issuing a press release about your business can make their job easier and result in free publicity for you!

Why Would Anyone Care About Your Business?

Most Americans wish they had the courage to do what you’ve done — risk it all, quit your job, and start your own business. Thus, when they read a story in the newspaper about your business, they can live vicariously through you. Reporters are always looking for stories that will catch readers’ attention, and a well-crafted press release may end up being printed verbatim in the local paper.

Formatting the Press Release

First of all, use company letterhead. If you do not have your own letterhead, consider investing $50 in having some designed. Or, an even less expensive route is to use one of the letterhead templates in Microsoft Word.

Next, come up with a good, attention-grabbing headline. Newspaper editors get dozens of press releases every day, so in order for yours to stand out, you have to have a good headline. Another secret is that newspaper editors can be a little lazy, so it’s quite possible that the headline of your press release could be the headline of the story — so make it good!

Put the headline in bold font, at least a few font-sizes larger than the main body of the text. Then put a two-sentence subheading directly below the title covering the main gist of the press release. This should be in a normal-sized font, but bold.

Start the main body of your press release with a dateline. A dateline consists of the city and state of the press release’s origin or where the event took place / will take place, followed by the date of the release and two dashes, all in italics. For example: Henderson, NV (08/11/2007)–.

As for the main body, the press release should be concise and to the point — no fluff, and no more than two pages in length (one page is best). And the information must be newsworthy to some extent — it can’t just be obvious advertising. A grand opening is a good story, but a big sale is not. For businesses already in operation, press releases have to be a little more creative.

Why Bother with Old-School Marketing?

If you follow these guidelines, most small-town newspapers will be happy to run your story. In the modern age, search engines and viral marketing are the entrepreneur’s #1 tools, but old-school / low-tech marketing still has its place. The readers of local newspapers may not be frequent Net users, so getting covered in print lets you reach customers you otherwise might not.

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