How (And Why) to Write
a Damn Good Press Release

by Joel Saltzman

 

"Why write a press release?" To promote your products or services via newpapers, magazines, radio, TV, and the internet for FREE! Your return on investment, assuming you get any press at all? Infinite.

That said, here are some tips on how to write that release. For example…

If I were to write a Press Release to promote Shake It! Books FREE e-mail Retro Postcards, I'd start out by looking for a winning headline - one that would instantly grab the attention of readers everywhere - like this grabber from the Wall Street Journal (6/3/02):

HOW AN AUTOPSY
COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE

(That sure got MY attention!)

Or, to attract a more targeted audience, consider:

THINNER THIGHS
IN 30 DAYS!

(Sure to grab the attention of at least half the world.)

While both these headlines are instant grabbers, they also share the same problem: Neither of them has ANYTHING to do with our postcards.

To create my own winning headline, I gave myself a time limit of exactly five MINUTES in which to Shake That Brain! and type out as many headlines as my cortex could muster. Five minutes later, the "maybe" category included…

1.
Retro Post Cards
Post Record Profits
($0000.00)

2.
$000,000,000.00!
Retro Postcards
Post Record Profits

3.
Look out Hallmark!

4.
"Cure Cancer or Blow Up The House?"
Nine Year Old Boy Struggles to Decide

5.
Dad Takes Shortcut,
Winds Up in River!

Knowing what you already know about our retro postcards (that they're free!) the first two headlines are obvious - and not half bad. Number Three, the Hallmark headline, would segue to a story about how these FREE cards could - just maybe! - jeopardize Hallmark's business. As for the "Cure Cancer" or "Shortcut" headlines, the Press Release would explain how these are just some of the Retro Postcards you'll find at www.shakethatbrain.com - now available as FREE e-mail cards you can send to friends or family along with a personalized message.

If your Press Release were an electronic one (strongly recommended), you may want to include a number of LINKS that would lead your reader to further information. Or just keep your release to one double-spaced typewritten page (about 250) words while keeping to the standard format. Like this:


"Smartest Husband in the World"
Reveals Marriage Secrets

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
J.S. Salt (805) 375-7193
joel@shakethatbrain.com

Author J.S. Salt spent three years speaking with 1,000 wives, asking them: "If you

could tell someone how to be the 'almost perfect husband,' what would you tell

them?" As a result, says Salt, "I became the smartest husband in the world! After

all, I listened carefully to these wives' needs and I was smart enough to start

applying their advice to my own marriage."

What's the Number One request from wives? Listen. As Brenda, 36, advises in

Salt's book, How To Be The Almost Perfect Husband: By Wives Who Know

($7.99): "Always listen to what your wife has to say no matter how uninteresting or

boring it is to you. It's important to her or she wouldn't be sharing it with you." Becky,

33, adds: "When I'm having a bad day and complaining a lot, please just listen.

Forget the advice on how to make things better. Just tell me you love me and give

me a hug."

Salt has also spoken with 1,000 husbands, leading to the companion book, How

To Be The Almost Perfect Wife: By Husbands Who Know ($7.99). What do men

need the most? Support. Alan, 29, writes: Believe in me, believe in me, believe in

me." As Ed, 47, married 25 years adds: "Be my cheerleader. Believe that I have

the talent to achieve my dreams, even if it takes longer than I ever imagined.

"These books are catalysts for conversation," explains Salt. "They really get men

and women talking about their needs - and to each other!" Salt calls these small but

timely books "pocket-size marriage manuals," explaining that they're written by "the

most qualified experts in the field - married men and women who know exactly what

they need."

Has Salt's marriage improved as a result of his research? "I had a pretty good

marriage before I started these books but now it's even better." And did his wife of

10 years learn a few things as well? "No doubt about it," says J.S. "Just don't ask

her to admit it."

Both books are available at bookstores everywhere. To view selections from the

books, visit: www.shakeitbooks.com. Readers can also order How to Be The

Almost Perfect Husband and How To Be The Almost Perfect Wife from Shake It!

Books or at www.amazon.com

###

Finally, be sure to include a "call to action" - something you want the reader to DO. (For example, the last paragraph in the release above.)

What you'll discover is that some editors will ignore your release AND your follow up phone calls. Others will print your release, word for word, EXACTLY AS YOU WROTE IT! (And for free.)

Alternatively….

You can "pitch" an editor with a brief e-mail query, your way of saying: "Would you be interested in pursuing the following subject?" Keeping your query brief (100 words or less) will let editors know you're respectful of their time. It will also dramatically increase the odds that someone will actually READ your e-mail.

For example, consider the following query, sent to a features editor at a large national newspaper:

Kathy,
Here are 3 pitches that total LESS than 100 words.

1. The following link will lead you directly to:
a. Ten Top Tips for Husbands
b. Ten Top Tips for Wives
c. photos, book covers and press release
That's: http://www.shakethatbrain.com/sib-pressroom2.html

2. This next link will lead you to "kids' advice on treating people right" -- presented in their own words and handwriting :http://www.shakethatbrain.com/sib-wtwnn-selections.html
Based on the book: What The World Needs Now, from Shake It! Books
http://www.shakeitbooks.com

3. You may also enjoy: 12 Quick Tips to Shake That Brain! -- to discover solutions for maximum profit, based on my lectures and workshops under the "Shake That Brain!" banner. Click on: http://www.shakethatbrain.com/12tips.html

Thanks in advance for your interest,

Joel Saltzman (aka: J.S. Salt)
Shake That Brain!® http://www.shakethatbrain.com/wow
Shake It! Books http://www.shakeitbooks.com
4306 Camino de las Estrellas
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
Tel: (805) 375-7193
Fax: (805) 375-7293

Kathy's response?

Dear Joel
Thank you for sending me such a compact, complete query. I AM interested in the style and type of advice your books provide but need to mull how to make a fit for us. Normally, we highlight new titles, those that are out less than 3-6 months or ideally, pegged to fresh publication (we work on a six-week lead time. A quick look at your titles show me 2001 releases being the freshest? Any newer? If no "fresh" book is available, we often refer to book content pegged to a trend story, i.e. "The rise in kids advice-driven titles"...etc. What trends do you see out there in terms of the type of books you compile/publish?
Thanks! Kathy.

Saltzman's response? A one page "trend" report on - you guessed it! - kids' advice-driven book titles (like Kids' Letters to God and our own What The World Needs Now), e-mailed to Kathy just two hours later.

What have we learned from this?

1. That it's always easier to promote NEW books or CURRENT topics.
2. When an editor makes a request, you'd be well advised to follow-up pronto!

Have I gotten any "ink" in Kathy's paper? Not yet. But I've earned a reputation as a solid, buttoned-up source - someone whose future calls or e-mails are sure to be welcomed.

Will my PR efforts with Kathy succeed? I'll keep you posted. Meanwhile, of this you can be sure: Fifty-percent of your marketing efforts will be a complete waste of time. Only problem is, you don't know which.

Finally…

As for WHERE to send that release, that's the subject of another article, to be posted soon at: www.shakethatbrain.com/wow

Joel Saltzman is a speaker, facilitator and consultant who teaches people in business to
Shake That Brain!® and discover solutions for maximum profit.
He’s also the author of the best selling book, If You Can Talk, You Can Write.

Joel can be reached Toll Free at 877-Shake It! (877-742-5348).
e-mail: joel@shakethatbrain.com  
www.shakethatbrain.com/wow

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