How To Write & Send a Press Release
Phil Peretz – President/Founder Indie Artists Alliance.
If you are looking to get yourself noticed, the press release (or news release) is the most common tool used to bring an artist or business publicity.
Basically, a press release is a simple, neat-looking sheet or an e-mail that provides news to reporters, editors, bloggers and other media people. Any press that you get from your news release will be free, so it’s easy to see why writing a good press release is a valuable skill.
When To Use A Press Release
You can use a release to notify the media about any sort of happening – a new CD release or CD release party, a special gig, or label signing. The thing to remember is: this is news so the press release needs to be “newsworthy”.
The “So What” Factor.
The worst thing that you can do is to write an article about you or your event that leaves the reader thinking to themselves “So What?” You want to make sure that your article leaves the reader with the desire to get more information about you and will drive them to go to your website to learn more about you.
The articles that get published are the ones that target the readers with your news. You have to find people who actually care about your news and, you have to figure out if the places where you are submitting your articles have readers who will care about reading about you.
If you send your calendar listings to publications that don’t print them, this is a waste of time. If you take a local angle about your news, you won’t get published in the non-local publications. Do your homework and find out what kind of topics are of interest to the readers.
It’s best to explore different angles. Find something that is universally interesting and is appealing to the readers (and the editor)
Let’s explore several angles of the same event and discuss how you can get additional press.
Scenario 1: OAKLAND BAND RELEASES NEW CD
This may be of interest because of a local angle. A local band with a local following releases a CD. This has limited appeal and will probably only show up in your local publications, college papers, neighborhood papers, maybe the daily paper. It’s NOT going to show up on the Billboard Magazine website nor will anyone really care outside your close geographic area.
Scenario 2: Oakland Band Goes Green with the release of new CD.
Now, the interest widens. There are now several approaches. First, you have the local angle and you are involving people who may be interested in how and why you chose to Go “Green” with the manufacturing and distribution of your CD release. If the press release is interesting enough, the editor or writer may want to interview you to get additional facts about this. The article is now more timely, touches not only on the band but on a worldwide commitment.
Scenario 3: Oakland Band Goes Green – Donates ProfitS to “Save the Earth Foundation”
See the difference?
The news story is now very broad and touches everyone, everywhere. The story is not only about the band but will compel the reader to take action. After reading about how you have chosen to Go Green, if they want to help the organization that you chose to support, they will need to go to your website and get involved. They will want to subscribe to your newsletter and they may want to purchase your album.
By taking a creative approach, you gain readership, additional fans, sales and a sense of community.
The writer or editor has a duty to their readers. Their job is to report interesting news. They do not owe you a story, its your job to come up with a reason for them to pass on information.
If you can appeal to their readers, you have a much greater chance to get printed. There is credibility in having an article printed about you. Anyone can buy an ad, but not everyone can have an article written about them. When an article or news release is published, there’s a perception that you have been endorsed by the publication.
How to Write The Release
There is a simple format for press releases and it’s easy to learn.
Start with an 8-1/2 x 11 sheet of paper. Many people suggest 1-1/2 spacing or double-spacing and leaving a minimum of a one inch white border on all sides of the paper. Use an easy to read font (type face). You can use any word processing program to build your press release.
Press releases follow the same similar format and are easily recognizable to writers and editors.
1) All Press releases start with a release date or FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.
2) Contact Information. Make sure that if you send out a press release that the phone number will be answered promptly during the period that the release is sent out. If there is interest in running the story, the writer or editor may want to contact you directly. Keep in mind that writers and editors typically work during the day and will contact you during their work hours.
3) The Headline. This should be typed in all capital letters and is the single most important item in your press release. If the headline sounds interesting, the reader will read further. If the headline is boring or has the “So-What?” factor, they will skip the article and will move on to something else. Take a look at some news sites and look at the articles that are there…get a feel for what sounds interesting and what sounds dull or boring. Draw the reader in. Remember the discussion that we had before with the three scenarios of headlines.
4) The Body of the Press Release. Just like the headline, the first paragraph needs to be attention getting. The press release should be concise, easy to understand and written in the third person reading as if someone else wrote the story. Use “he” or “she” instead of “I” The only exception to this is if there is a quote in the article. Maximum length should be two pages and preferably one page. The body starts with all of the important facts starting with the city, state and date descriptions: August 1, 2008 (Oakland, California)
Do not abbreviate the state and include the full date description. Be sure to use Who, What, When, Where, Why and How in your news release and be sure to share your news without any flowery or fluffy adjectives. Remember, it’s supposed to be news. You can use quotations to add more interest.
”We want to show our fans that responsibility for the earth starts with ourselves” says band leader Ryan Williams, “by going green and sharing profits with the Save the Earth foundation we are sending money and a message that will make a difference.”
5) At the end of the release summarize your story and add the “About Us” information that is necessary along with a link to your website.
6) End your press release with the symbols ### after your last lines of text. This lets the editor know they have successfully received the entire release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information, contact:
Your Street Address
City, State, Zip Code
MONTH DAY#, YEAR (CITY, STATE) – Here’s where you add important information answering the who, what, when, where and why. It’s important to make sure that the first paragraph summarizes your news clearly.
Add additional details here.
About The Band…
About any other organization discussed in the article
For further information, contact Your Name at (xxx) xxx-xxxx.
Sending Your Release
Almost every newspaper, magazine, radio station, music blog site and music related website can be a possible point of distribution for your music news release.
Be aware that you are one of hundreds or thousands of people who are sending in press releases to the publication and the writers and editors do not have time to take your phone calls. If the news release is interesting and newsworthy, they will print it.
If you e-mail the press release, stay away from html coding. Make it easy for the writer or editor to easily and quickly “cut and paste” the news article. Have photos available if the writer or editor contacts you for additional information.
If you mail the press release, address the envelope neatly and clearly, making sure to spell the contact’s name correctly. If you are unsure of the name, try “News Director”, “Music Editor”, or “Features Editor”.
It’s easy to get free publicity by learning to write an effective press release. All you have to do is to remember to make it newsworthy and timely and you’ll quickly build a new following for your band and your accomplishments.