A press release is a body of information you send to the media to alert them of information you think they should publish or broadcast.
In a business like patient advocacy or medical services assistance, most press releases will be aimed at print publications like daily newspapers or weekly, regional business newspapers or newsletters. Print publications often repeat themselves online, too, so you may end up with two mentions for the efforts of one.
The idea is that you send information, and if they find it relevant and complete, and deem it to be of interest to a good portion of their readers, then they will print it.
For advocates, then, the key is to make sure they find the information you send to be relevant, complete, and interesting to a good portion of their readers!
Manage Your Own Expectations
The first thing to understand is that, in effect, if they print your news, they are doing you a favor. You won't be paying for them to print it (that's what advertising is for - a different approach).
Knowing that, you should not be surprised if they don't print what you send. Instead, be pleasantly surprised if they do print it!
And, knowing that, you'll want to maximize the chance they will print it by making it VERY EASY for them to simply repeat what you have submitted. That requires four things:
- Identifying the right publication to send the information to.
- Identifying the right person to send the information to.
- Providing it in the form they prefer, such as email, fax or a hardcopy through postal mail.
- Sending exactly the information they need, in a concise format, with no extraneous information.
The Right Publication and the Right Person
Make a list of publications in your coverage area. Your best successes will be local, even if you can work elsewhere in the country. Dailies, weeklies, business papers or even the freebies you pick up at the supermarket - they are all candidates. Don't forget community newspapers, or Pennysavers or others that print community news, too.
Next you'll need to identify the right person at each publication to send the information to. This will probably require a bit of sleuthing. You are looking for either the health editor or the business editor -- or both -- to publish your press release.
You might be able to find these people online. Poke around the publication's website or do a google search using "cityname publicationname health editor" or do the same with "business editor."
If not -- then find their phone numbers and call and ask. "I would like to send a press release about my business. Can you tell me to whose attention it should be sent and how best to send it?" If the person you're speaking to can't provide an answer, ask to be connected to someone who can.
Keep your list! It's always easier to update it than to start from scratch each time.
The Right Information
Here's a sample of a basic press release (intended to announce your relationship with AdvoConnection.) Note the elements that should be contained in every press release, such as the date, your contact information, and a follow up, call to action at the end of the release.
It's important to keep any press release you send concise. If you ramble about points that don't matter to the reason for the release, then an editor will grow impatient and simply delete it, or toss it in the circular file.
If you'd like to send along a photo, be sure to name it with your name or company name and attach it to an email release or put a copy with a postal mail release. You cannot fax a photo - it doesn't come out with clean enough resolution. Most often a photo of a face will be printed. Rarely will logos be printed by a news publication.
Based on many years experience doing this, here's what you will most likely find. A daily paper might print the first sentence or parts of two or three sentences from the release. A weekly paper, or business publication might print most of what you send. If you find your entire release reprinted or online, count your lucky stars!
When you find it, it will very likely be rearranged in some manner. Publications like to put their own touch on the information.
And if you don't find it at all? Wait about two weeks from the date you send the information, and follow up either by phone or by email, "just to confirm" they received the information. They should be able to give you a better sense of whether you'll ever see it in print.
Last Piece of Advice
When any publication prints positive news about you, whether it's the result of your press release or not, please send us a notice and we'll link to it, too.
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