The Anatomy of a Press Release: How to get your share of free publicity

The Anatomy of a Press Release
How to get your share of free publicity

In Fortune 500 companies, there’s plenty of money to spend on advertising. For the big guys, sales and marketing is the life-blood of a company. So hiring a market research company to lead in-depth interviews and working with a top-notch ad agency to create a magnificent looking ad is just the price of doing business. And doing business this way has a price tag of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It’s not likely that a small holistic practitioner can compete with that. Nor should we.

When I surveyed over 100 yoga teachers about the most common marketing tactics they employed, the most common answers were word of mouth, flyers, mailings, and advertising. Of the four answers, advertising is the most costly if it’s continually done. Marketing for a multinational conglomerate is different than marketing for a company of one, but the basic, underlying fundamentals are the same. The most important fundamental being that sales and marketing is the life-blood of your business. Without positive cash flow, or the future promise of running in the black, your holistic work isn’t a business. It’s a hobby.

Let’s face it, though, even advertising in small papers can be costly. Certainly advertising has its place, and should be a part of your marketing mix. It’s just not the only way, nor the best way, to gain media attention. Many holistic practitioners overlook a free way to gain media exposure, increase professional credibility and create more name recognition.

It’s easy: use a press release.

Harnessing the power of the media through press releases is a terribly underutilized method for getting free publicity.

Anyone can write a press release. It is not limited to only a chosen few. In fact, much of the news we read and see today originated as a press release. The image of a roving reporter out to get the news scoop is a misrepresentation of how most news is generated.

When you read through a magazine or a newspaper, what do you pay more attention to, the ads or the articles? Herein lies the secret of garnering press coverage: it brings much more credibility than advertising. And it’s free.

There are four simple steps in the anatomy of a press release. They are:

Step One: Set an angle. What is new, timely, or of interest that’s happening in your business? Examples can be a new yoga CD, opening a new studio or branch, a new class for seniors or for cancer patients, an anniversary of your studio, a special open house, a speaking engagement, or Yoga Day USA run by Yoga Alliance, etc. Think about your target audience and the publications they read. Spend your time on creating press releases that will bring you closer to that audience. Summarize your angle by creating a relevant headline for the press release.

Step Two: Just the facts, Jack. The first paragraph in the release answers the basic what, where, when, why, who. Keep it at a maximum of 3-4 sentences. It needs to be succinctly written and clear—this is the make or break point of the release. An editor will determine in the first few sentences whether to pursue the story or throw the release in the trash. Make sure the first paragraph answers who, what, when, where, why and how.

Step Three: Quotes. In the second paragraph, get endorsements or clarifying quotes that support the facts in the first paragraph. You can get quotes from your students, your peers, your guru, or anyone else that can support your positioning. You can even quote yourself!

Step Four: Expand. In the third and fourth paragraph, elaborate on other pertinent facts that fill in the angle of the story. End with your company information and mission. Don’t forget to include your contact information!

Your release should be no longer than one page.

Now you’re all set to distribute it. If you’re not aware of all the possible publications and editors to send the release to, go to your local library and look through Bacon’s Directory. This reference book lists all media publications you could ever imagine, and then some.

We live in a crowded world. Getting your holistic practice noticed means actively spreading the news about your work, so that you can help others. A good way to do that is by remembering to write and distribute a press release.

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