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Six Steps to Free Publicity

Step Two: Write a Press Release

Once you come up with a compelling angle, write a press release, a brief document in a specific format that shows newspeople why you or your business merit attention now. Here's a sample, followed by an explanation of how each part needs to be written.

For: Creative Ways, P.O. Box 1310, Boston, MA 02117. Contact: Marcia Yudkin (617)266-1613.


Boston, MA, October 26, 1993 - Entrepreneurs, professionals and any company that offers a service or product can spend a ton of money on advertising -- or they can spend time thinking up an approach that will entice the media to spread the word for them for free. Radio, TV, magazines and newspapers hunger for items that will provide useful or entertaining information for their listeners, viewers or readers. According to Boston-based writing consultant Marcia Yudkin, Ph.D., anyone can get fifteen minutes of fame -- along with new customers or clients -- by describing to the media something they've done that's innovative, funny or evokes human interest.

Here are eight ways to win free media publicity, excerpted from Marcia Yudkin's new booklet, 66 WAYS TO MAKE YOU OR YOUR BUSINESS NEWSWORTHY:

  1. Concoct an interesting characterization of yourself (Rick Davis of Temple, NH, created "The Institute of Totally Useless Skills")

  2. Present your ordinary program or service to an unexpected clientele (prisoners, kids)

  3. Piggyback on the news or current entertainment (In the summer of 1993, anything about dinosaurs appeared timely)

  4. Agree or disagree with newspaper columnists by writing them (Many use or mention their mail in their column)

  5. Conduct business in an unusual setting (Hold your awards dinner at the zoo; conduct board meetings in the mail room)

  6. Break a record (The Guinness Book of World Records sells 1 million copies a year)

  7. Do something anachronistic (make house calls; answer your own phone; bring back glass bottles)

  8. Take the lead in complying with new legislation (e.g., the Americans with Disabilities Act)

The complete list of 66 WAYS TO MAKE YOU OR YOUR BUSINESS NEWSWORTHY is available for $2.00 from Marcia Yudkin, Ph.D., P.O. Box 1310, Boston, MA 02117.

Now here is an explanation of the various parts of the press release.

"For": Write the name and address of your company or organization here.

"Contact": This is for the name and phone number of the person who is prepared to speak to the press on the subject of the press release. Include phone numbers that will reach this person evenings and weekends, in case a reporter is working on a deadline.

"For Immediate Release": This means the media can run the information right away. If you are providing information that shouldn't be announced before a certain date, write, "For Release January 4, 1995" (or whatever the magic date is).

Headline: I always center headlines in boldface, underlined. Make the headline as alluring and specific as you can, since many media people will read no farther. It's OK to go on to two or even three lines for the headline.

Dateline: As in the opening of a newspaper article, provide the city, state and date on which you're sending off the release.

First paragraph: Get right to the point in your first paragraph. State the core of your message here.

Later paragraphs: In the sample above, I excerpted from the actual report I was publicizing. Usually what you do here is to provide quotes -- from yourself, customers, clients or experts -- that round out your story.

Last paragraph: This is the place to offer prices, addresses, phone numbers, dates and other details people need to follow up on your message.

End: Add a series of "# # #"s or the journalistic code phrase "- 30 -" to indicate that the release is finished.

This press release led to coverage, complete with ordering information, in Business Startups Magazine and National Home Business Report, among others.


Copyright © 1994 Marcia Yudkin. All rights reserved.

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