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Fast Pitch

You want attention, and you want it now. Get it—instantly—with today's smartest PR tactic.

What's one of the best ways to get publicity for your business? Promoting it with press releases. But the "old way" of writing and distributing releases just isn't as efficient as it used to be.

Once you create a newsy message about your product or service, you have to use several media directories to find the appropriate editors, address hundreds of envelopes, fold the releases, stamp the envelopes and send them. OK, so it's not the Ironman Triathlon, but it is like watching a black-and-white TV set when you should be watching in color. That's where electronic press releases come into play.

Unlike their hard-copy counterparts, electronic press releases are shorter in length (typically four to five paragraphs, compared to one to two typewritten pages) and less expensive to send (no postage or envelopes necessary). Best of all, they allow you to reach a much larger audience, since there are many Net-exclusive journalists and publishers not mentioned in traditional media directories.

Can all those e-mailed bits and bytes really draw the media to you? "We send [all] our press releases over the Internet," says Steven Hoffman, 33, co-founder of LavaMind, a CD-ROM game and Web site development company in San Francisco. LavaMind's releases have garnered publicity in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Business Week, as well as on PBS, ABC, CNBC and dozens of other newspapers, magazines and TV stations. What's more, Hoffman estimates publicity from his e-mail press releases is responsible for generating half of LavaMind's sales, which nearly doubled last year.

Monique Harris recently got her 15 minutes of fame when an electronic press release she sent to 30 editors generated 12 mentions.

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This article was originally published in the December 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Fast Pitch.

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