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Attracting the News Media to Your Business

As a business owner, sometimes you have to act as your own public relations agent to gain brand exposure and clients. To send a news release or press release to the news media is a way to receive coverage and put your company's name in the spotlight.

A press release is like a news story about your business. It's a written or recorded communication you mail, fax, or e-mail to assignment editors at newspapers, magazines, radio stations, television stations, and/or television networks. Commercial press-release distribution services are also used to distribute news releases for a fee. Sometimes news releases are sent for the purpose of announcing news conferences, a new product or service, special events or charities sponsored by your company.

A press release is different from a news article. A news article is a compilation of facts developed by journalists published in the news media, whereas a press release is designed to be sent to journalists in order to encourage them to develop articles on the subject. A press release is generally biased towards the objectives of the author.

Can you imagine that the L.A. Times prints a story on your business? We are talking about 1.2 million copies per day, about four million readers. The L.A. Times has also a similar figure in regards of visitors to its online edition.

Internet has taken the information age to a new level. Now, your company's website may have a press room full of press releases about your company. You may send a link of your press room's web page to the news media in order to get coverage, but individual visitors may come to that page if you optimized your site to be indexed by search engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN and others.

Elements of a Press Release

According to some experts, while there are several types of press releases (such as general news releases, event releases, product press releases, and more recently social media press releases), press releases very often have several traits of their structure in common. This helps journalists separate press releases from other PR communication methods, such as pitch letters or media advisories. Some of these common structural elements include:

Headline — used to grab the attention of journalists and briefly summarize the news.

Dateline — contains the release date and usually the originating city of the press release.

Introduction — first paragraph in a press release, that generally gives basic answers to the questions of who, what, when, where and why.

Body — further explanation, statistics, background, or other details relevant to the news.

Boilerplate — generally a short "about" section, providing independent background on the issuing company, organization, or individual.

Close — in North America, traditionally the symbol "-30-" appears after the boilerplate or body and before the media contact information, indicating to media that the release is ending. A more modern equivalent has been the "###" symbol. In other countries, other means of indicating the end of the release may be used, such as the text "ends".

Media Contact Information — name, phone number, email address, mailing address, or other contact information for the PR or other media relations contact person.

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