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5 steps to mastering the art of small business press release distribution

by | Jul 27, 2023 | Public Relations

Distributing press releases to journalists, reporters, and other influencers is a great way to build awareness of your business. After all, if you’ve got a great story or news to share about a brand, you want it to get as much coverage as possible. That’s exposure for your brand—not to mention potential links to your website.  

Your small business may have a fantastic story to share. But that does not guarantee that your press release will be successful. A number of factors can determine whether or not it gains traction—including, in particular, how you go about distributing it. You need to get it to the right people, at the right time, in a manner that will engage them.

So, let this article give you the lowdown—in five steps—on mastering the art of small business press release distribution.

5 steps to mastering the art of small business press release distribution

1. Define the opportunity effectively

Let’s start with the obvious—but perhaps most important. If you want your press release to have an impact, you need to ensure it’s good. Make sure it tells a relevant and compelling story—all in an engaging way. You may be thrilled about your new private branch exchange (PBX) communication system, but the rest of the world—maybe not so much!

Know your audience. First, that means the immediate recipients of your release: the reporters, journalists, influencers, or bloggers you are sending it to. It needs to be something that they will want to invest their energy and resources on. Second, of course, it means knowing your target audience: how will this press release increase their engagement with your brand? Remember, with press releases you need to engage the former to get to the latter.

Define the opportunity and then ensure your execution delivers on that. There are many guides to writing a great press release. Briefly, make it short, snappy, engaging, and highly relevant to readers. For example, authentic and real-life stories are landing particularly well at the moment. Powerful quotes, statistics, and visual images can also help to give your release extra heft.

5 steps to mastering the art of small business press release distribution

Make sure you have chosen the most appropriate news or story to leverage. This is the best opportunity to engage with your target audience. And then take the time to craft a great release. Tell a story that does your brand justice and doesn’t end up as just more spam.

2. Frame your press release effectively

It’s not just the story you tell and how you tell it. The presentation of your press release also plays an important role in successful distribution. Optimize the small details to increase the chances of it cutting through.

Make sure that you use an appropriate press release format. There are conventions to follow depending on the nature of your press release. You are more likely to be taken seriously if you pay attention to them. Here are some examples.

  • Stick to a standard business font, like Times New Roman, and uniform margins.
  • Include your brand logo at the top of the release.
  • Indicate the date when the information can be made public.
  • Include contact details prominently (name, email, phone number).
  • Headings (main and sub) should be compelling but comply with standard character lengths.
  • The opening (“lead”) paragraph should snapshot relevance to the reader’s customers.
  • Quotes and visual elements are great but should follow standard conventions.
  • A boilerplate at the bottom provides background, giving a pen portrait of your business and establishing your strengths, achievements, history, and a call to action (for example, a link to your website).   

In addition to the above, it’s nearly always best to keep your press release brief and organized into short, easy-to-read paragraphs. 

Finally, make sure people want to open your press release by delivering it with a personal message. Recipients are busy people—just like you. Sure, maybe you’re snowed under evaluating hosted PBX providers to support your office team. But your recipients will be facing their own pressures and deadlines. So, try to go the extra mile here. Address the reporter directly in your email—explaining why you feel the news is a good fit for their publication or website.

3. Get your press release to the right people

Who are you distributing your press release to? It’s crucial to identify the right people and plan the best approach for getting it to them.

That might involve engaging a press release distribution or newswire service. Doing so will help to target your press release more precisely, effectively, and easily. For example, they will already have contacts and relationships with a wide range of media outlets, journalists, reporters, and influencers. This route can thus be a quick and effective way to launch your press release – albeit at a cost. 

There are quite a number of these services, offering different benefits and specialisms. They vary in the following ways.

  • Price per press release
  • Speed of service
  • Some help with creating the press release.
  • The size of their database of contacts (to get your release to the right people)
  • Analytics/reporting to inform future decisions
  • Particular sector specialisms

Take a look at what’s available and consider if this path is right for your business. 

On the other hand, many businesses send their press releases themselves—either instead of or in addition to using a distribution service. This is not necessarily an inferior option. While it does take more effort and organization to do it manually, done well, it can be effective—especially as an additional push.

What makes a DIY approach to distribution successful?

  • Identify the right contacts. Who are the most essential reporters, journalists, bloggers, and influencers to get your press release to?
  • Ensure your contact list for those people is kept up-to-date. Carry out online research for this or use a contact service.
  • Make sure you have their personal contact details and not just generic newsdesk addresses. Emails sent to the latter are more likely to be overlooked than to the former.
  • Take time to nurture good relationships with them. Engage with them fruitfully on social media, for example. Build a reputation as someone with something worthwhile to say.

So, put your office phone systems for small business to use—and get networking! The above leaves you well-placed to reach out to your media contacts with your news release. And when you do, it is worth personalizing your approach for each recipient. Explain why you are sending this to them, and why it is a good fit for their readers or subscribers. 

Leveraging a selected, nurtured relationship with a highly personalized approach can be a very effective strategy for launching your press releases. That said, it does take quite a bit of effort.

5 steps to mastering the art of small business press release distribution

4. Choose your timing carefully

Be strategic about when you press “send” on your press release.

First, that means allowing enough time for journalists and reporters to do something with it. They need time to read it, think about it, follow it up, and then do something with it. Remember, they will have many other pressures on their time. It’s best to be strategic and organized with your press releases where possible—taking a longer-term approach and following up with recipients where necessary.  

Second, being strategic means planning exactly when you will press send: what day and what time. That may sound trivial but much research has revealed the impact that timing can have on a recipient’s engagement with communication. 

There’s probably no definitive, one-size-fits-all “best time”—after all, people vary! But there are trends to bear in mind. For example, one 2022 report suggested that between 10 am and 2 pm on a Thursday might be good (with engagement dropping off after lunchtime!) Think about this in the context of your recipients and make an informed choice about timing. 

Finally, be sure to specify a release date. Make certain that recipients know when the information in the release is meant to go public.

5. Continue to nurture your release after pressing send

Even after you have pressed ‘send’, there is still a lot you can do to support the distribution process. 

First, follow up and reach out to recipients. Engage with them—politely and succinctly—after giving them time to read the release. Make it clear that you would like to support them – for example, do they want any more information? Hopefully, that will bring the release to their attention. 

Second, you should share the press release via your social media channels. Also, share any other coverage elsewhere of the press release: this is good for both parties, giving your story a boost as well as their channel. If using LinkedIn or Facebook you might also consider some of the paid options available for boosting the exposure of posts related to your press release. 

Finally, as with any other aspect of running your business, it’s a good idea to evaluate the impact of your press release and its distribution. Use analytics to assess its traction (many distribution services support this). For instance, how many times was your story covered by different channels? Such information is invaluable and, used consistently, can inform and refine your future efforts.

5 steps to mastering the art of small business press release distribution

Be strategic. Press releases are a powerful way of gaining positive exposure for your brand. Save them for the most audience-engaging news—think exciting product innovation rather than your annual SOX reports, for example!

However, mastering the art of small business press release distribution is crucial if you are to make the most of this marketing tool. It’s not enough to have a great story, told compellingly. You need to ensure it gets sent to the right people, at the right time. 

Distribution is key. Consider the best way of achieving this for your business. It might be using a distribution service, it might be using your own carefully nurtured relationships, or it might be a combination of the two. Be strategic, learn from your efforts, and refine your approach. 

Jenna Bunnell
Jenna Bunnell is the Senior Manager for Content Marketing at Dialpad, an AI-incorporated cloud-hosted unified work communication & communications system that provides valuable call details for business owners and sales representatives. She is driven and passionate about communicating a brand’s design sensibility and visualizing how content can be presented in creative and comprehensive ways. Here is her LinkedIn.

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