Each year the average professional practice misses several opportunities for obtaining free advertising. How? By not taking advantage of press releases. A well-written and well-timed press release can be a tremendous marketing tool. They require minimal investment of time and are absolutely free. How can your practice benefit from press releases? Follow these simple suggestions.
Professional practices have more to boast about than one may think. Certifications, special training, speaking engagements, community involvement, awards, unique new equipment, new staff members, new associates, new partners, anniversaries, state board appointments, charity involvement, positions or offices held, screenings, expansion of services, new location(s), additional offices, health fairs and new product lines are just a few of the subjects suitable for press release. Anything that makes a practice unique, first, different or special is worth writing about.
Most practices, regardless of size, will have at least two events per year suitable for press release. Ambitious practices will have four or more. One release per quarter is a reasonable and obtainable goal for any practice.
Select targets from the three most common medias. Newspapers are the best bet. Radio is a close second. Television is a distant third.
Prior to developing a release, contact the selected targets to inquire about specifications for submission of press releases. Determine deadlines, required length, photo specifications and key contacts within the targeted organization. A key contact may be an advertising representative you have worked with in the targeted media. Representatives are often willing to assist with press releases for their valued advertisers.
Most media sources receive dozens of press releases each week. Yours must be user friendly in order to be read and reported. Avoid cover letters. The release should stand alone without explanation. Mark the top of the release “For Immediate Release.” Follow this with a short title or headline that will grab the reader. Your point must be made between the title and the end of the first paragraph or the release is worthless.
Press releases that are limited to three quarters to one full page in length are most effective. A general rule for press releases is the shorter, the better. Most editors are too busy to read multi-paged documents.
Provide three copies of each release and a diskette to the organization or media target. This will assist the organization if the release is to be reviewed by more than one party prior to print or broadcast. Make sure each release has ample margins and is double-spaced for editorial corrections and modifications.
Place the release directly on your company letterhead. Provide your name, address, phone and fax numbers for the media personnel processing the information. If they desire additional information, communication will be easy.
Make sure the subject of the press release is truly news. Notable or unique people, events and new products are newsworthy. Be factual and precise, avoid hype and obvious bragging. If the news is very good or truly unique, it may lead to additional media coverage.
Once your release is complete, ask the following questions. How will the information released affect the “man on the street?” Why does the public need the information? Will the release interest or benefit the reader/listener? If the answers are not clear, start over.
The terminology used in a press release must match the target audience. Who are the readers/listeners for the media selected? Press release vocabulary for professional journals will differ greatly from vocabulary used in publications for the general public. Know your audience.
The Final Check
Double check each press release for correct format and spelling. Review for typographical errors. Be sure that all facts and dates are correct and that all photos accompanying the press release are clearly labeled. Send all press releases well ahead of established deadlines. Failure to submit a press release in a timely fashion will result in losing a chance for free advertising.
In today’s market of managed cost, everyone is scrambling to gain the competitive edge. Gain the edge by including press releases in your marketing plan. Turn your accomplishments into free advertising.