How To Make News With a Press Release

Press releases are an easy—and free—way to draw attention to your business. A good press release gives local news outlets the chance to see what you’re up to and possibly cover your story, providing you publicity and adding credibility to your status as a local canine expert.

Here are some tips for taking advantage of this easy, free marketing strategy:

When to Write a Press Release
Too often dog pros miss opportunities to engage with local press. Here are some times to take advantage:

When you launch a new, interesting product or service. Perhaps you’re offering a group obedience class curriculum focused on something a bit out of the ordinary, like teaching manners to get the family dog happily through the holiday season. Or a walking service that gets dogs off the pavement and out onto the open trails for some real hiking. If your services don’t look like everyone else’s, shout that from the roof tops.

When you host an event. If you’ve planned a fundraiser, seminar, trial or other competitive event, or even a fun outing for your community (movie night with your dog at the local theatre, a guided weekend hike or camp trip, a holiday dress up party at your daycare) a press release can help spread the word beforehand or brag about the event’s success after the fact.

When you receive an award, scholarship, or other professional recognition. Have you recently been acknowledged as one of the best and the brightest by a professional organization, your local Chamber of Commerce, or a “Best Of” contest in a local publication? Congratulations! Be sure to take full advantage by letting your community know. 

Writing a Great Press Release
The key to getting your press release picked up is making sure it’s well written. In addition to impeccable spelling and grammar, a press release should have a few key elements to grab the potential publisher’s attention:

  1. A catchy, informative title. No need to be funny, clever, or cute here. Just encapsulate what your press release is about in a clear and succinct way. Instead of “Wagsworth Manor Has Gone to the Cats!” try “Wagsworth Manor Expands to Include Cat Playroom and Daycare Services.”
  2. A first paragraph that clearly outlines the key points of the release. Whoever is reading your press release has a lot on his or her plate, so offering up the most important elements of your message in the first few sentences will vastly increase the chances that your release gets picked up. This first paragraph should answer those classic six questions: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How? You can expand upon these details in subsequent paragraphs, but provide the essentials right up front to make your recipient’s job easy.
  3. Quotations that lend an air of authority. If possible, include quotes from two different people related to the news item. If you are a company of one, don’t hesitate to “quote” yourself. This is fine, so don’t be self-conscious. The second quote could be from someone at a partner organization, whether it’s the shelter you’re raising funds for or the store at which you’ll hold your seminar. The quote could also come from a client who is enthusiastic about your new product or service. Make sure your quotes expand on what has already been said, rather than reiterating information you’ve provided elsewhere. They should also include the speaker’s name and position. Anonymous quotes don’t count.

Sample Press Release
Here’s a sample of what all this looks like in action:

Paws and Care Dog Training Partners with Canine Clips Grooming and Local SPCA to Raise Money for Homeless Pets

On Saturday, October 24, 2015, Paws and Care Dog Training will host a dog wash event to raise funds for the Springfield SPCA, which is planning an expansion of its existing facilities. Also joining the collaboration is Canine Clips Grooming, which has generously donated the use of its facilities for the day. Between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on that Saturday, any member of the public can make use of the self-wash stations available at Canine Clips or have their pet bathed by one of the many volunteers who will be on hand. The suggested donation is $15 for the self-wash and $30 for the full-service bath. The event is more than just a chance to get a sparkling clean pooch, though! Area vendors have donated a number of prizes for a raffle drawing, and local band The Sneaker Beats will be entertaining the crowd from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Canine Clips parking lot. Rounding out the festivities will be three local food trucks selling refreshments, with a portion of their sales also supporting the cause.

“This event is a wonderful opportunity for the local community to help our shelter expand,” notes Springfield SPCA’s CEO, Morgan Rockport. “We are very excited about our plans to improve our kennels and add three new outdoor play areas for the dogs in our care, as well as renovating the HVAC system in the cat facility. We are incredibly grateful to Paws and Care Dog Training and Canine Clips Grooming for being so generous with their time and facilities.”

Paws and Care’s involvement with the Springfield SPCA dates back to 2007, when the organizations partnered to offer reduced-fee training classes to shelter dogs and their foster families. A more recent collaboration between Paws and Care and Canine Clips Grooming brought certified dog trainers into the grooming facility to teach newly hired groomers about canine body language as part of their onboarding process. As part of the upcoming event, these same trainers will be available to talk to owners about how to make the bath-time experience more pleasant for dogs who may not enjoy it.

All three organizations are excited to join forces for this fun event. Jeffrey Davis, founder and CEO of Paws and Care, says, “We are honored to help the Springfield SPCA raise funds for and awareness about their upcoming expansion. They are doing amazing work for homeless pets in our community, and we are pleased to be able to give back in this small way.”

Canine Clips is located at 437 Winding Way, across the street from Sycamore Park. For more information about the event, please visit pawsandcaretraining.com/dogwash, or call 812.474.3991.

Turning Your Press Release into Press
Now that you’ve got a great press release, it’s time to do something with it. Start by cultivating good relationships. Even small local publications and TV news programs receive many press releases, so it’s a good idea to develop and maintain a contact list of editors and producers who are most likely to be interested in your news. Check in regularly, even if you don’t have anything to share, to see what kinds of stories these folks are looking for, and to make sure there hasn’t been a staffing change.

When you send your release (usually by email), include a personal note, and follow up in the next day or two with a phone call.

You can also post your press release online using any number of free press release companies. While not as powerful an SEO tool as they once were, online press releases can still occasionally lead people to your door, and they’re free.

When the Silence is Deafening
If your news doesn’t get picked up, don’t lose hope. You may be a victim of bad timing—for example, having to compete with a big school board election taking up lots of space in your local paper the week you issue your release. Or you may be the fifth person in three days to send a release about a similar kind of story. Be persistent, and it will eventually pay off.

And even if your news isn’t deemed newsworthy at the time, you can repurpose your press release into a blog post or other web content to keep your website fresh and interesting. Share the information in your print and email newsletters, too. That way, even if you don’t make the local news or papers, your time and efforts have been well spent.