V on REUTS Marketing Monday: The Art of the Press Release

REUTS-Press Release

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the inner-workings of the publicity business, 90% of the time new authors are put in charge of writing their own press releases.

Even if you do eventually end up reaching the level of success where you can hire someone to do it for you, it’s actually STILL in your best interest to at least take a look at the end result, so you can be 100% clear on how your product (i.e. your book, and yourself as an author) is being represented to the public.

SO PAY ATTENTION to this post, y’all.

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

Veronica Park has written a book, and this marvelous book has just been released. It’s something you’re going to really want to read, because it has vampires, and UFOs, and pirates. Also, Ron Perlman gave it two thumbs up over the phone, and Stephen King called it “an actual book, which has words and everything.”

This book, which is called IN YOUR FACE, JK ROWLING, is a preternatural celestial romp through time and space, which combines themes of love and loss with slapstick hilarity of unimaginable proportions. The main character, JOE SNOW, is a sexy yet likeable mix of Harry Potter and General Zod. Joe and his equally sexy supernatural friends must save the world from an onslaught of gigantic gummy bears or everyone will die screaming, buried in a gooey, flaming napalm.

To contact Veronica Park (the author) about this existential overload of fictional glory, please contact Veronica Park (the Director of Marketing) at REUTS Publications via the following methods:

email: vpark@REUTS.com

phone: 1-555-555-5555

website: http://www.reuts.com

For your convenience, here are links to the above mentioned materials:

Amazon.com – where the book is on sale, etc.

Veronica Park (the Author’s) blog

VP’s Twitter

VP’s Facebook

***

This is the basic format for writing a press release. Obviously, I used totally fictional (as in, I made them up on the spot) examples and mostly fake contact information…and okay, let’s be honest, I probably took a few too many liberties with creative adjectives…but that’s just kind of how I roll when it comes to blogging. Sorry.

Ahem. To put it more clearly, a good press release should include the following information, in the following format:

Press Release (optional)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (NOT optional)

TITLE OF BOOK by Name of Author

Today’s Date — Why we are sending this press release? What makes this NEWS? (It’s not just that a book is being released–new books are released every day.) What makes this author or this book unique? Why will this publication’s readers want to know about it? (Include specific information about the target demographic–i.e. “Teens between the ages of 14-17 who live in urban areas will especially enjoy this book, because a, b and c.”

What is the book ABOUT? Be brief, but clear. Specific. Journalists don’t have time for vague descriptions or ominous platitudes. This is NOT a query letter, but it ALSO shouldn’t be boring. i.e. “TITLE OF BOOK is about NAME OF MC, the daughter of a New Orleans dog groomer who finds out she can control dogs with her thoughts.” What are the stakes? (What will make people keep reading?) i.e. “When MC finds out that someone at the National Dog Show is cheating, it’s up to her to find out who it is before her mother loses the title, and the prize money that will save their house from being repossessed by the bank.”

If the journalist in question is interested in following up on this story, here is where they can contact your publisher (or you, if you’re an indie author). Choose at least 2-3 methods whereby they can contact you, and state what types of interviews you’d be willing to provide (for example, if you’re sending the press release to a blogger who also has a podcast, this VERY SHORT paragraph would be a good place to mention that you’d also love to be considered for a live interview.)

###

Note: KEEP IT TO ONE PAGE OR LESS, ALWAYS. And always end with either *** or ###.

Rules:

  • Keep it simple. Keep it short. Be as clear as possible without sounding boring or overly explanatory.
  • ALWAYS include contact information.
  • Tailor the end of the first paragraph to the publication you’re targeting, just like you would with an editor/agent in a query letter.
  • Keep it professional. Write in 3rd person, even if you’re writing a press release about yourself. Don’t make jokes or personal comments that will make the tone seem amateur or sloppy. (Basically, don’t pull most of the crap I did in my first example letter.)
  • Do make it interesting and engaging.
  • If you’re emailing the press release, you don’t need to include a cover letter style heading, but you DO need to include all of the info listed above.
  • Don’t just make a carbon copy press release and send it to a billion people at a time. Even if it seems like that’s a good idea, you’ll lower your response rate that way.

Alright, that’s it for now. Go forth and practice writing your press releases! As I always say, there’s no teacher like experience!

 

BY THE WAY, here are some other FABULOUS articles that discuss format and content: how to write a press release that very busy and no-nonsense journalist types (like me…but with far less nonsense, probably) will actually WANT to read:

Crowd sourced responses from Journalism.co.uk on What Journalists Want to See in a Press Release

8 Tips for Writing a Great Press Release by Zach Cutler of the Huffington Post

How to Write a Press Release that Gets Noticed by Entrepreneur.com

 

 Note: This post was originally written by Veronica Park and published on REUTS.com for V’s Marketing Monday series.

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