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Wyoming Business Tips for Dec. 11-Dec. 17

December 6, 2011

A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

By Cindy Unger, Business Adviser

I've heard a lot about press releases being a good "guerilla marketing" technique. Can you give me some advice about what would be interesting news and how to write a release?  Kim M., Casper.

Press releases are a great way to publicize your business and, best of all, they don't cost anything but some time and effort. There is always a trade-off for "free," however. Unlike a paid advertisement, there is no guarantee that a press release will be published, who will publish the information, or how the content will be edited.

On the positive side, if the information you released is published as an article in the media, that exposure, via a credible third party, offers a legitimacy that advertising does not.

Typically, the objective of a press release is to attract favorable media attention to your business, product(s), or services.  Your objective is to pitch an angle about your business to the media that their particular audience will perceive as news, entertainment or useful information. If the audience will benefit, then the chances of getting your release printed are good. Remember, the media are always looking for news.  

Small businesses often do not realize that they truly do have "news" to write about. Community newspapers are often particularly interested in local business news. You can write about sales growth, new or improved products or services, new offices or personnel, industry awards or recognition, participation in special industry events, philanthropic activities and even "thought leadership," or what your company's stand is on key issues, views on trends, expert analyses, etc.

Before releasing news, think about:

  • Relevance. Does your news relate to the community, a hot issue or a prominent individual?
  • Timeliness. Does your news relate to a holiday, event or a particular time of year?
  • Uniqueness. Is your news unusual or thought provoking?

Creating a template for your releases will save time. Be sure to include a date if the news is time-specific or use "For Immediate Release," if you simply want the news released right away. List a contact name, phone number and email address. Use a strong headline, typed in all capital letters to bring attention to your news. Keep the release to one page. Begin the release with the city and state from which the press release originates and the date.

Your first paragraph should highlight the purpose of the release and include the "5 W's" (who, what, when, where, why). Tell your story concisely and precisely, limiting that first paragraph to three sentences. Additional paragraphs should provide more details about the story. Quotes from company executives or customers are very effective. Use bullets to break up your copy. Your final paragraph should include a short "boilerplate" paragraph about the company and links to the company website. Use "###" at the bottom of the release to indicate the end.

Avoid jargon and self-promotion. The purpose of your press release is to communicate news or information, not to blatantly advertise your company.

When distributing your release, consider your media and select carefully. Don't waste time on media that are not a good fit for your news. Decide whether to distribute by fax, email or mail.

A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at

The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.

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