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Press releases remain among the most effective ways to generate awareness of your small business and its products and services. Media outlets may reproduce a release as is (or with some editing), or follow up to do a fuller story. A press release that gets picked up by reporters, bloggers and others who share information with potential customers can result in media attention that facilitates interest in your company, builds credibility and ultimately leads to more revenue.

Keep in mind, however, that the people at media outlets who field press releases are bombarded with them. That means yours needs to have purpose and must stand out from the crowd; otherwise, it may never be read, let alone published.

Here are some tips to help ensure your releases make an impression and make it past media gatekeepers:

Make sure it’s sharing something people will care about. While a press release can be about anything relevant to the people you want to reach, make sure you’re sharing something that’s interesting. Never create a press release that doesn’t offer something of value to your readers.

Examples of release topics that might resonate with people include:

» launch of a product that will make customers’ lives easier;

» improvement to an existing product that enhances its quality or capabilities;

» an open house event;

» introduction of a new staff member who brings additional expertise to your company; and

» involvement in an industry association or sponsorship of a well-known program.

Keep it to the point. Press releases are typically short, providing just enough information to spark a reporter’s interest in learning more. If your release extends past two pages, it likely will get passed over. Stick to the basic “who, what, when, where, how and why” information, and include your contact information so reporters can easily reach you if they have questions.

Put it in the right hands. Research which media outlets reach your target audience. Depending on your type of business, that may be local newspapers, magazines and TV and radio stations, or you might benefit from a broader reach. With local media, find out how they prefer to receive releases. For media reach beyond your local area, you might consider PRlog.com or pay services such as PRweb.com, PRnewswire.com or Marketwired.com.

Also take advantage of the power of social media by posting your release on your website and sharing the link on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the other platforms you have a presence on.

If you need guidance in what to include in your press releases and which media outlets will serve you best, or if have any other questions about ways to generate buzz about your small business, talk with a SCORE mentor at your local chapter.

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For more information about starting or operating a small business, call SCORE at (434) 295-6712 or visit centralvirginia.score.org.

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