(And Why) to Write
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
(That sure got MY attention!)
Or, to attract a more targeted audience, consider:
(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…
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:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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
"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
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!
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.)
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:
1. The following link will lead you directly to:
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
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)
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.
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.
As for WHERE to send that
release, that's the subject of another article, to be posted soon at:
is a speaker, facilitator and consultant who teaches people in business