The best press release is truly a news release. Although the terms are used interchangeably, “news release” emphasizes the fact that the release needs to be truly based on news and information, rather than on marketing and sales.

Topic: Your news release should highlight news of interest to the community and the media.

News of interest to the media includes: business opening; significant expansion of staff, store size or product or service lines; hires or promotions into significant positions; and milestones and awards.

While a big sale at your store will be of interest to some people in the community, it will not be of interest to editorial media, unless you have a store-closing news item.

Format: Guidelines and samples for formatting a proper news release are available online, and it only makes sense to follow them. The media receive mountains of news releases each week, and you want yours to be well received.

In general, you need: contact information, a headline, a dateline, the body of the release and a boilerplate with additional information about the company or organization.

Focus: Be sure you focus on information about the news item. Include a bit of information about your business or organization, but use the boilerplate for additional details. Avoid using adjectives that might make your release read like an advertisement.

Details: Give complete information. It’s good to have someone else read through your release before distributing it, to make sure it includes all the necessary details (date, time, location, etc.), so the media has all they need. They may quickly pass over an incomplete release.

Timing: The timing of news release distribution varies greatly, depending on the media, their deadlines and preferred working schedules. A news release to a monthly publication needs to go out months in advance of publication, while some enewsletter editors want to receive news for tomorrow’s publication today.

Targeted Distribution: By targeting the distribution of your news release, you are showing respect for the media and increasing the likelihood of your release being considered. Select the publications or other media outlets that are likely to find your news helpful for their readers, viewers or listeners. Send it to editors or reporters that would find it useful; if you only send them news they might be able to use, they are more likely to read it – and your next release.

Helpful tip: If you can connect your news item to something that is trending on a national level, the chances of its being picked up and used are greatly improved.