Gregg Moulton is ready to take his state by storm as Select Transportation Florida.
Newspapers and their websites are always looking for news from community businesses. Sending a press release that is ready for publication will help get your company name in front of your community.
Share Your Story
Attending the International LCT Show or any trade show is an investment in your company and the service you provide to your community. It is worth showing your community your commitment to safety, chauffeur training, transportation laws, and industry trends. You probably have read or heard about awards bestowed upon local businesses such as a restaurant getting a Zagat rating or a local car dealership recognized for high sales by a manufacturer such as Ford.
So why not toot your own horn? You’re just as worthy and important. Your community will never know just how committed you are if you don’t tell them. Consider this your chance to shout it from the mountain. You should consider it a favor to your local media that you are providing important information about your local business. Prepare a press release and tell your little world about your Show attendance and what you learned, or what you bought to improve your operations.
What is a Press Release?
A press release, also known as a media release, is a public announcement to the media about something significant to be shared with the community. If properly written, it should be ready for publication without much editing, or ready to be read on-air as written. In order to achieve this, a press release should be written to contain what editors call the five W’s and the H. Simply put, it is Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. It should be written to contain “news” and never be written like a commercial or advertisement for your company. Editors frown on that sort of thing. You might wonder if your release is newsworthy. Editors start each publication with blank pages. They are eager to fill those pages and are usually thrilled to receive a written press release ready for publication as a “copy and paste” especially since most newspapers run with a fraction of the staff they had just 10 years ago. It saves them time and fills the page, so don’t worry they will lack interest. The worst case scenario is they decide not to use it. You are out nothing but a little bit of time. However, if they do use it, you will be the talk of the town.
Press Release Prep Basics
The Headline: Summarize what this release is about using words that explain the whole thing in a few words. It should be interesting enough to make someone want to read more. It should never contain acronyms that the average person might not understand. Here are some examples:
ABC LIMO ATTENDS ILCT SHOW
This is not an effective headline. It promotes ABC Limo and may be rejected on that basis alone. The average citizen in your community would have no idea what ILCT stands for.
LOCAL LIMO SERVICE JOINS IN GLOBAL CONVENTION
This generalizes the company as a limo service with no attempt to promote the company name but to share what you did. It spells out exactly what the International LCT Show is to the average person. You can spell out and explain ILCT in the body of the release.
Copy point is a term used by editors that refers to the five Ws and the H. Each one of those is a “copy point” or subject. However, there are other copy points that might be contained that are not really necessary to tell the story. An example would be a statement such as, “The company operates nine vehicles and has been in business since 2004.” The statement is a copy point but isn’t really needed to share your attendance at ILCT. Editors might need to edit your words down to fit an available space. Ease that process by putting the less relevant copy points at the bottom of the page so they can easily be cut without affecting the more important copy parts at the beginning of the release. It is okay to make such statements in the press release with the hope they will be part of the story. But if they don’t make it to print, you still transmit your message to your community that you attended the show with good results for your business.
Choosing Your Words
Media entities are supported by advertising, so they hate giving away free advertising. They will easily see through attempts to use a press release intended for news as advertising. You have to write your press release to reflect news about your company while not blatantly promoting your company. In a headline, capitalize every word to grab attention. Don’t make statements in your press release such as, “Follow us on Twitter” or “the company frequently has special pricing on Facebook.” These statements come off as advertising, and it’s a sure way to make an editor throw away your release. The reading or listening audience will want to know who in your company made these statements. After you write your first paragraph about your attendance, end the paragraph by adding, “said owner John Smith.” Throughout the article, you may reference yourself like that, or if appropriate, say something such as, “Smith says the training will improve the safety of both chauffeurs and passengers.” While it may seem weird to quote yourself, it is standard routine to editors processing the press release.
It is best to write your press release using the order of who, what, when, where, why and how. It doesn’t have to be in that exact format as long as all the relevant information is included. Use the five “Ws” and the “H” as a guideline for writing.
Also, try to avoid cliches in your release, such as, “We are excited to be present at this international event.” Too many press releases talk about being “excited,” “proactive,” “best” and the “leading limousine provider.” Just be detailed and clear. No need for hyperbole. Use shorter sentences.
NEVER ask to see the release again after the media outlet has edited it. You should be completely comfortable with all the information you’ve posted publicly for quotation, attribution and dissemination. The implicit understanding in a release is that all or parts may be used, but you do not control the final edit. Sometimes your direct quotes will be paraphrased for space reasons. Deal with it. You should be glad if your “release” becomes a “news story” in some way, on some level. That’s a lot better than nothing. A good rule to remember:
No release is complete without digital photo images or an easy web link to them. Photos should be high-resolution, digital, preferably 300 dpi, in a j-peg format. You may send on a USB flash drive or via any number of links to digital photo downloading services. Include all relevant names, titles, dates, and locations in your caption information.
Sending It Off
Press releases arrive at media offices by email, fax or postal mail, although that last one better be a follow up to an email. Finding out the recipient is important to determine their preferred method of receiving releases. The local “media” includes your local newspaper, TV and radio news, and other local publications such as community magazines, websites and print or electronic newsletters. The best way to determine who to send releases to is to call them and ask. Radio news is usually decided by the news director of the station. A producer decides what airs on a TV program. If TV news decides to use your press release, you will almost certainly be featured on the news that night. Remember to stay focused as you tell the world your story about why you attended ILCT. Don’t attempt to turn it into a commercial as you won’t make it to air. If you can do the interview standing next to one of your vehicles with your building in the background or a logo on the vehicle showing, you can accomplish advertising without sounding like a commercial. If you are sending it to the local newspaper, the city, metro or news editor is the final decisionmaker on what makes it to print. But there may be a “beat editor” or “section editor” who handles either business news or local news. Managing and executive editors generally do not get down into the details of compiling daily news coverage, but would pass on your release to the right editor.
On Air Appearances
Here’s a little publicity secret: A low-key news report quoting you or featuring your company carries far more clout than a paid ad or a blatant marketing piece. From an informational standpoint, readers trust news content in a different way than advertising. If you can get positive exposure in a straightforward news story, you will have snagged one of the best things in life available for free.
Gregg Moulton is ready to take his state by storm as Select Transportation Florida.
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