This week, I'm finalizing a new workshop designed to save money for small business owners, nonprofit organizations and people interested in starting a small business. It's called "Press Release Essentials: Get Media Attention on a Shoestring Budget."
The two-hour workshop was created so chambers of commerce and Small Business Development Centers could host a training event for their constituents.
As I was writing the workshop, I thought of the proverb, "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime." The same is true with press releases. As a small business owner with a limited marketing budget, I know firsthand that I can't afford to hire a public relations firm to write and distribute my press releases. So I do it myself. And I'd like to teach others how to do it for themselves. It's an essential skill when you are running a small business or a nonprofit organization.
One of the fun parts of developing this workshop was getting advice from some of my friends in the public relations and newspaper industries. They reinforced what I had already written and added their own tidbits of knowledge and experience. Some of their frustrations with poorly written press releases came out when I asked them about their pet peeves.
"Too long. Don’t follow AP style. Missing information that forces us to call (no time or location, for example)," said Plattsburgh Press-Republican Editor Lois Clermont.
The bottom line is to make it easy for editors to do their job. Then you are more likely to get a release in the newspaper, and it expedites the process.
Sandy Caligiore, the media guy for a number of organizations in Lake Placid, New York, including USA Luge, the Empire State Winter Games and the Mirror Lake Inn, summed it up clearly when he said, "The best tip I can offer is that if you are going to issue a news release, you must make sure it contains real news."
I am looking forward to meeting small business owners and people at nonprofit organizations around the Northeast. I know I can make life better for them and help them get the media attention they deserve, all on a shoestring budget.