Use Press Releases To Get Media Exposure.
In parts one and two of this bootstrap advertising series, I talked about bartering your design services for exposure and promoting yourself on your client projects. Two great ways to get your name out there. After all, the more people there are who know about you and the services you offer, the more successful you will be.
Both bartering for exposure and putting your name on client projects are great methods of spreading your name. But that’s all they do. They don’t offer any form of credibility or positioning. Sure, people can’t hire you if they don’t know about you. But just knowing about you doesn’t guarantee they’ll contact you when they need a designer. Especially if all they know about you is your name.
Media coverage, on the other hand, gives you credibility. It means you’re “important” enough to merit mentioning. And that publicity can mean the difference between someone just knowing about you and someone hiring you.
When combined, these different forms of exposure leave a powerful impression that can lead to more business.
But how do you get media exposure?
Send out press releases.
The easiest way to get media coverage is by submitting a press release for each of your accomplishments.
A press release is sometimes called a "press statement," a “news release," or a "media release,” which is an official way to inform the media about something you deem important.
Media could be newspapers, radio or tv stations. It might be blogs, magazines, podcasts, social media channels, YouTube channels or industry journals. Any platform people visit for current information is considered media. And most media outlets are constantly looking for new stories to cover, especially on slower news days.
Press releases are a great way for media outlets to add “filler content” to their platform. Then, if they deem the press release to be newsworthy, they’ll write or report on it. It’s that simple.
Don’t forget other places that may be interested in your special announcements. If you’re a member of your Chamber of Commerce or similar associations, send them your press release. They may publish it in their newsletter. If you attended design school, send your press release to the school. Most schools love hearing and sharing the good news about their alumni.
Lastly, reach out to any industry-specific platforms related to the announcement you are making. For example, if you designed new signage for a local law office, send your press release to any law-related publications or outlets that may cover your story.
The purpose of a press release isn’t just for recognition and publicity; although it is the principal reason, most media outlets that run your story will also include a link to your website. And every backlink to your website, especially from recognized news outlets or schools, helps to boost your position in the search rankings.
What merits a press release?
Any time you do something somewhat “newsworthy,” you should send out a press release. This includes any time you...
- Offer a new service
- Complete a big project
- Win an award
- You are recognized for an achievement
- You reach a milestone
- If you take on a partner
Any exciting news you would share with family, friends and peers might be worthy of a press release.
When Resourceful Designer was a finalist for a People’s Choice Podcast Awards, I sent a press release to my local media. It must have been a very slow news day because my story appeared on the front page of my local newspaper. All because I sent a press release.
When my local Chamber of Commerce told me the cover I designed for their printed club directory won an award at a national Chamber of Commerce event, I sent a press release. The story was covered by two local newspapers and one of our radio stations.
When I was awarded the contract to design the event program to unveil a new Canadian National Heritage site, I sent a press release, and several media outlets shared the story.
When I launched my secondary design business, Podcast Branding, I sent a press release to everyone who covers news in the podcast space. Many of them mentioned my new business.
Sending out a press release is an amazing way to get media exposure for your design business.
How to write a press release.
A press release is usually one page, two at the most, with succinct information on what you want the media to know.
The idea is to give the reader the details so they can, in turn, write or compose their own story. Rarely will the media publish your press release word for word. Instead, in some cases, they’ll compose something based on what you submit, and in other cases, they’ll contact you for an interview or perhaps invite you to appear on their program.
The generally accepted format for a press release is as follows.
Your press release title is important. The more irresistible you make it, the better your chances of it being picked up. If required, you can use an italicized subheading to summarize the news you’re sharing.
Make your titles stand out. For example, instead of “Designer builds a website for local business,” which is pretty boring. Write something like “Business hires local designer and sees online revenue soar.” That’s something people want to hear about.
2. The body.
The body of your press release has to grab whoever is reading it. Chances are the person reading your release gets dozens, if not hundreds of them each day. So the quicker you grab their attention, the better your chances of them using your story.
It’s customary for your first paragraph to start with the city you are in so they know where the story relates to. In my case, I would start the first paragraph of my press release with – Cornwall, Ontario: and then introduce my story.
Your first paragraph needs to cover not only who you are but the what, why, where, and how of whatever it is you’re telling them. Please keep it to the facts without any fluff. They should know everything they need to know about your story after reading that first paragraph.
Once you’ve set the scene with your first paragraph, the rest of the paragraphs in your release help fill in the details and give them any other pertinent information with greater detail that will help them paint a picture of what they can write.
- How has what you’ve done made an impact?
- How has it changed the client?
- How will people benefit from it?
- What makes it newsworthy.
If applicable, provide a direct quote they can use in the story they write about you. For example, when I submitted the press release about the Canadian heritage site, I included a quote something like this.
“it’s an honour to be chosen for this project out of the many talented graphic designers from across Canada.”
The writer assigned to my story used my quote in his article.
You should also provide any background information on the press release subject, such as why you undertook the project or what you won the award for. The reader already has most of the vital information they need. Don’t provide superfluous facts or such about you, your company or the announcement.
Remember, a press release needs to be concise. But do offer any details that strengthen your narratives, such as any creative ways you accomplished your announcement or any struggles you had to overcome.
If you can, comment on the future implications of your announcements. For example, in the case of a new client website, you may want to say the company expects to double their income with their new online sales. Just make sure the information is factual.
3. Your last paragraph.
The last paragraph of your press release should summarize who you are and what you do. In plain English, list your company name, your name and title, the full URL to your website, and your email address and phone number should they need to contact you.
Follow that information with pertinent details such as how long you’ve been in business, What you offer, for example, “Graphic and web design services,” and any awards or recognition you’ve received.
It’s a good idea to include a headshot of yourself and a photo that relates to the announcement.
When my Resourceful Designer story was published on the front page of our newspaper, I included a photo of me sitting in front of my microphone with the press release.
Attach any photos to your press release if you're submitting them by email. It’s also a good idea to upload them online and include a URL link where the reporter can download them. Just in case something happens to the attachments you send.
The very last thing on your press release should be three octothorps. Or as you may know them by Hashtags or Number signs.
This is the traditional way to mark the end of a press release and is still appreciated by the media. It informs the reader that there is no more information to read.
Tips to submitting press releases
- If you know a specific journalist, try sending your press release directly to them instead of the general [email protected] address. You’ll have a much better chance of having your press release seen.
- Give them enough time. Most media outlets release stories at specific times of the day. TV news, for example, often airs at noon, 6 pm and 11 pm. So send your press release early enough for your best chance to get in on the next news cycle.
- And lastly, if your announcement does get picked up, be sure to share it as much as possible to help spread the word. Keep the buzz going for as long as you can.
That’s how you submit a press release.
Just because you submit a press release doesn’t mean they will use your story. If you’re lucky and it’s a slow news day, there’s a better chance they’ll use your press release. But it is hit and miss. However, when they are used, the media exposure you get from it is a great form of publicity.
As I said initially, when someone sees, hears or reads about you in the media, it increases your clout. It strengthens the mantle of the professional that you are. And it gives you credibility in the eyes of those who see or hear it. And all of that is great exposure. And it doesn’t cost you a cent.
For more information about press releases, read this great article by Hubspot. It includes a free press release template kit for you to download.
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