Q: I want to publicize my business, but I can't think of a topic worthy of a press release. What are some ideas, and will it really help my business?

A: It's a well-known fact that a company's visibility will increase with powerful publicity. After all, publicity aims to bring the news of your company to the world. The basic weapons you'll need to do this include a press kit, a company background piece, press releases, story ideas and articles or columns about your business. The most important of all, though, is the press release.

If you're wondering what exactly should be covered in a press release, think along the lines of "newsy" and interesting topics. Examples include: your online presence; important information and tools regarding a change in management or the business components you offer; special information that can be obtained online; any proprietary product or methodology that you offer through your consulting services; the announcement of articles, events and appearances; relevant worksheets, tips and techniques; and so on.

A publicity campaign that uses press releases should begin with a master plan. The more newsworthy you make your company, the more coverage you'll get. And coverage is important because it earns the kind of credibility that advertising just can't buy. When writing a press release, your goals should be uniqueness, timeliness and top-of-the-mind awareness. Once you achieve publicity and visibility, both your company profile and your client and prospect levels will rise. One successful story about your company resulting in free publicity is advertising worth hundreds and thousands of dollars.

There is definitely a knack to writing a "newsworthy" press release, even though the ultimate goals are usually awareness and promotion. Editors don't like promotion, though, so crafting a press release to appeal to an editor is key. If you provide reporters with news that appeals to their readers, you'll gain instant credibility and be on your way to forming a valuable promotional relationship. This can be very powerful from a marketing point of view.

There's no guarantee that any press release will ever be published, but by taking a consistent, professional and newsworthy approach with the reputable editors of respected publications, the probability is good that you'll get some coverage. Press releases are also great vehicles for communicating with clients and prospects. Putting them on your Web site is a very effective means of promoting to your captive markets. It also further substantiates your marketing efforts, as well as your credibility.

If you're not sure about what you should cover in a press release, consider these ideas to see if any apply to your business:

  1. Starting a new business
  2. Introducing a new product
  3. Celebrating an anniversary
  4. Announcing a restructuring of the company
  5. Offering an article series for publishing
  6. Opening up branch or satellite offices
  7. Receiving an award
  8. Receiving an appointment
  9. Participating in a philanthropic event
  10. Introducing a unique strategy/approach
  11. Announcing a partnership
  12. Changing the company or product name
  13. Earning recognition of the company, product or executives by a publication
  14. Announcing that you're available to speak on particular subjects of interest
  15. Issuing a statement of position regarding a local, regional or national issue
  16. Announcing a public appearance on television, radio or in person
  17. Launching a website
  18. Announcing free information available
  19. Announcing that you've reached a major milestone
  20. Obtaining a new, significant customer
  21. Expanding or renovating the business
  22. Establishing a unique vendor agreement
  23. Meeting some kind of unusual challenge or rising above adversity
  24. Restructuring your business or its business model
  25. Setting up a customer advisory group
  26. Announcing the results of research or surveys you have conducted
  27. Announcing that an individual in your business has been named to serve in a leadership position in a community, professional or charitable organization
  28. Sponsoring a workshop or seminar
  29. Making public statements on future business trends or conditions
  30. Forming a new strategic partnership or alliance

Of course, these are just a few ideas to get you started. Just remember this: If a press release is well-written, almost any event can be turned into news.

Alfred J. Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing and PR consultant, direct-mail promotion specialist, principle of marketing consulting firm Marketing Now, and president and owner of The Ink Well, a commercial printing and mailing company in Wheaton, Illinois. Visit his Web sites at http://www.market-for-profits.comand http://www.1-800-inkwell.com.


The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.