Cost Effective Marketing Ideas: Use Press Releases to Increase Visibility

Use Press Releases to Increase Visibility

Press releases are the most frequently overlooked marketing tactic available to the small business owner.  Press releases are easy to write, free to distribute and get picked up by Google faster than the average blog.  They carry a certain amount of legitimacy because they are written to inform rather than persuade.  They are the perfect vehicle for announcing something special about your business; an acquisition or partnership, a new process that improves clients satisfaction or an upcoming event that ties into some other seasonal or holiday celebration.

Much has been distributed about the format and structure of a well written press release, so I will leave that to the PR experts.  The rest of this article is devoted to using press releases as part of your marketing strategy.  Here are some things you should think about:

What innovation do you want to use a press release for?

Press releases are for newsworthy events that inform people about compelling enhancements that you now offer.  Think about something that your current clients just rave about.  Whatever you want people to know about that would get them to contact you quickly is what you use a press release for.  The key is to promote a real benefit, not a feature.  A benefit is something that provides value to the customer.  An innovation is something that changes how consumers do things.  An example of this is wireless communications.  If you now have a website that makes booking restaurant reservations online easier, that’s news!

How do you distribute your press release?

There are several very good, free, sites that distribute press releases.  A few that I use are,,, or  Each of these sites provides articles on how to write press releases and offers templates to construct your release.  Find your business category and read a few releases to get the flavor of what’s out there.  Remember, not everyone is good at this, so be critical of what you read.  If you find one you like, copy the URL and paste it into Google’s search box to see how fast it got picked up.  This is a real eye-opener!

What’s the best time to submit a press release?

The best time to publish a release is during a period when something in the general news on a similar subject is getting airtime.  Articles that highlight issues with large businesses can be very useful.  If you own a computer business and you plan to expand your repair service, you might have used the recent closure of bigger computer stores like CompUSA or Circuit City to promote services that these big guys no longer provide.  Conversely, try not to launch your release during a major national or world event.  The news wires will flock to the major news events and your submission may get missed. 

What’s the best way to write content for a press release?

Remember, a press release is a news item.  It needs to be objective.  It should inform and relate to newsworthy subjects.  You are writing this for news people, not your customers.  Releases that are filled with sales speak will get rejected.  Try to find an objective or unbiased authority to quote, that supports the focus of your release.  A good way to do this is to check local and national newspapers for relevant articles or any number of online article feed sources.

How much contact information should go in a press release?

Once you’ve educated the public on your innovation or major news event, make sure you give them as many ways to contact you.  Main office numbers, websites, emails and social links are all appropriate.  If your release is written well and you attach your news to a timely market-wide event, you will get calls.  The second release I wrote on my ‘Ask Steve’ Q&A service got 364 hits to my website!

How frequently should you submit press releases?

Unlike blogs which get posted daily, a press release is for special announcements.    If you only publish once a year or when you opened your business, you are not getting the benefit of this mass publication tool.  Most businesses don’t use them enough but be careful not to use them top frequently.  Unless your business changes monthly, you will run out of meaningful, newsworthy topics to submit.

A general rule of thumb is to consider press releases once a quarter.  This frequency will keep the news sources from looking at you with less importance.  One press release every 2-3 months is aggressive but doable. Too many press releases will dilute your credibility.  You can, of course, use these releases in others ways!  You can mail hard copies to your existing clients; you can post them on your own website on a ‘news page’, and you can put them in the main body of your upcoming newsletter.  Don’t forget, you can also fax your press release to local papers.  Unless there’s tons of AP content coming through, you’ll probably get picked up.

Focus on quality and repurposing rather than quantity.

Don’t expect press release sites to do your work- Proof, Proof, Proof!

Don’t submit anything until you proof your work.  Many free PR sites offer templates you can fill in.  Some have spell check and others don’t.  I recommend writing it in Word and doing the spell and grammar checking before you paste it into the site template.  You might event consider writing your release and putting it aside for a day.  Go back and read it the next day to see if it still sounds good before you publish it.  If you reference another published news article to support your release, make sure you give credit to the source.  If another news source has to check your work, they will probably pass on your article..

Don’t let a major development in your business go unnoticed!  Write a press release today.  You’ll be glad you did!


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