Press release

Press Release Basics: How to Write It & Why Your Reputation Needs One

Jean Dion • December 11, 2015

How to Use Press Releases for Reputation Management

Your best reputation weapon might be sitting on your front porch, and with one little document, you could put it to work for you.That's right: I'm talking about your local newspaper. Press releases help you unleash the power of reporting, which could help you to fight back against a reputation attack and/or prevent an enemy from hitting you in the first place.

Press Releases for Reputation Management

Why Use Press Releases for Reputation Management?

For years now, we've all read reports about the impending death of newspapers. For example, The Pew Research Center tells us that revenues tied to printed news declined in 2012, and at this point, those revenues are a little less than half of what they were in 2006. When it comes to overall dollars, print media does look a little soft.But things start to shift when you look at small, local newspapers.

According to the National Newspaper Association, 67 percent of people living in small towns in the United States read the paper between 1 and 7 times per week. For many of these people, the local paper is their primary source of news, researchers say.

Think about that for a minute. By reaching out in the local paper, you could be putting your vital reputation news, data that you control, in front of your neighbors, your family, your bosses and your customers. You could start to shift opinion with your words, and that message could be amplified online.Most small newspapers have an online presence. They "index" their sites to Google, so the articles that appear in a newspaper also tend to get found online.

If you write a press release in such a way that it contains your name and a vital keyword that's being used against you, that link could help you push down negative pages appearing in search results right now. This one-two punch of local news and national exposure is hard to get without using the local paper.

And thankfully, it's pretty easy to get your news in front of the people who matter.

Grabbing Attention with a Press Release

People who work in rural newspapers, as a review by the

Stanford Rural West Initiative

so aptly points out, have a ton of positions to fill. Typically these are people that might handle some or all of these tasks on any given day:

  • Interviewing
  • Writing
  • Coding
  • Editing
  • Photographing

These are papers with incredibly small staffs, and everyone working there is looking for a way to stay relevant and efficient. If you can walk into these environments with content that is polished, prepared and ready to go, you'll be saving these stressed-out people a great deal of time. And they might be more than happy to run your piece as is, without giving it much thought.

But there is a word of warning here: Since these professionals are so busy, they may not have the time to handle a document filled with errors or mistakes. You've got to get it right, the first time, so they will be willing to work with you and help your reputation.

A press release is a perfect document for a reporter, because it's written in a definable style that reporters understand. Format it correctly, and they'll know just what you're talking about. Here's how to do it.

A Reputation Press Release Template

The top of your press release should contain a few key elements:

  • Your name
  • Your contact information
  • The date
  • The city and state in which you live

That information tells the reporter about where the information is coming from, and whom to contact with additional questions or requests.

Next up, the headline. Think of this as the summation of everything you're going to write about. It should be short and snackable, and informative too. After all, if your piece is printed as-is in the paper, this is the headline that will get shared on social media sites, too.

Most social sites call for short posts, so your headline should be short.

PR Newswire suggests a headline of 90-120 characters for optimal success. That's a good target to shoot for. And remember: Use those keywords. Your name (or your business name) should be in that press release headline.The body of your press release should contain information about one thing you've done that's newsworthy.

Think about:

  • Awards you've won
  • A job promotion
  • A new project you're working on
  • Some kind of national or local achievement (like a race you're preparing for or a cause you're working toward)
  • A volunteering achievement
  • A new business opportunity

Business Wired suggests that you have about 642 words to work with, when it comes to a press release, so you'll want to be brief. Just explain what's happening in a calm, collected, professional voice and you should be on the right track.If you absolutely can't figure out what it should sound like, browse press releases on

Enhanced Online News. You'll get a great feel for tone and voice after reading a few of these.Once you've looked over your document multiple times and you're sure it's free of errors, look up your local newspaper on social media or on Google, and send them that document. Have no idea where your paper even is? Try this series of directories from DMOZ. You should get some good ideas here.

Need Help?

Writing the perfect press release is easy, for those people who are born writers. If you don't include yourself in that category, we can help. We have a team of experienced journalists that can take your ideas and transform them into press release gold. Just contact us to find out about pricing, timelines and processes. We'd love to hear from you!