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The Press Release: Do You Need One?

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CC Image courtesy of Laineys Repertoire on Flickr

You’ve just launched your company, you have an upcoming event or will take part in a tradeshow, you have a great exhibit design idea, and you want the world to know about it. You’re also a bootstrapped startup with very little money to spend on a shiny PR firm. Is a press release the best way to go? If so, how can you get your release picked up or even noticed? Here’s the best advice on writing, releasing, and delivering press releases that I’ve got.

Do You Have News?

As a marketing writer, companies asking me to write random press releases often approach me. My first response is to ask whether or not that company wants to announce some new news. No news? No press release. It’s that simple. Let’s say that you do have news, though. Let’s say that you want the world to know that you will be creating a spectacular even at an upcoming tradeshow. How can you let everyone know aside from showing up with a stellar exhibit design? First, you have to craft that press release.

Writing a Press Release

It helps to think of a news anchor when you’re writing a press release. Get that authoritative voice in your head, and forget about bragging about your company accomplishments. Editors don’t’ want to hear what you’ve done and how impressed you are with yourself. Editors want news. Just the facts, folks, just the facts. It never hurts to throw in a quote or two as well. But do yourself a favor and don’t write your own release if you don’t have any prior press release writing skills – I assure you, this is an art worth paying for. Now that you have your fact-laced release, you’ll have to get people to read it. This is the tricky part.

Where to Send that Release

You have a few options when it comes to sending out your release:

• PR Web
• PR Newswire
• Local press (papers, radio stations, etc)

Let’s focus on PR Web and PR Newswire, since sending out a press release to a local paper or radio station is largely a matter of preference (hint: if you’re targeting local people, you may want to think about a tradeshow publication in addition to a local and web source). Both PR Web and PR Newswire are expensive. You’ll pay to send out those releases. You’ll pay hundreds. There’s no point in using those free wire services, so do yourself a favor and pay the fee.

Which service should you choose? It depends on how much you want to pay. Frankly, it’s worth paying $300 to send out a press release if you have a really good release to send out. Again, I’m going to stress the importance of actually announcing news and not just gloating about your company – you won’t get any press with that kind of tactic. The more you pay, the more services you’ll get. If you are announcing big news or a big event, pay for the best service possible (and the most that you’ll get from that service).

Do you need to send out a PR if you’re just attending a tradeshow?

Decisions, Decisions

A ton of companies attend tradeshows. That’s not news that’s worth the $300+ PR Newswire or PR Web fee. Now, if you plan on hiring a world famous person to show up at your booth and do something spectacular, that’s news. See the difference? You do want to announce your presence at a tradeshow prior to the show to generate press, but a press release may not be the way to go (unless you have built up a lot of anticipation prior to the show, and you plan to unveil something for the first time at the show). It’s really a matter of what your company’s marketing goal and trade show display plan is. For most businesses that are simply attending tradeshows to showcase a product or service that’s not mind-blowing (and you’ll have to carefully think about whether or not what you’re putting out is going to wind up catching the attention of a journalist), a press release isn’t the way to go. In this case, getting a spread in a trade magazine and great trade show display is a better option.

If you are stuck on that release, though, hire a writer and pick the right service – and whatever you do, don’t assume that a free press release service is just as good as a paid one. It’s not. Let us help you with excellent exhibit design, and weigh the pros and cons of a press release carefully.

Do you have any questions about sending out a press release? Just let us know!

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