Marketing with Press Releases
Issue a press release for your guide
Writing and distributing a press release is fairly easy these days. This means two things: first, that you should do it to promote your book, and second, that your press release needs to be good to raise interest.
How to format a press release
Press releases have a fairly strict format, which you should follow as closely as you can. In total, your press release should fit on one, maybe two pages. Take a look at our press releases as examples, e.g. our own launch press release from March 2009.
The headline should either be formatted as all caps or initial caps. It should fit on a single line and summarize the main point of your announcement. At the same time, it shall create interest to read on.
The subhead should be formatted in initial caps and provide additional context about your announcement. You will often find that you have too much to say for the headline, so you can use the subhead for other important information. Try to keep your subhead to a single line, make it two lines at most.
The dateline immediately precedes the body of your first paragraph. Write it in the format 'City, State, Date - first sentence', e.g. 'Singapore, 31 March 2010 - Singapore author Peter Lim today announces...'.
The first paragraph is commonly phrased 'ABC today announces...'. Its purpose is to give an overview of the most important facts. You include more details in the paragraphs to follow.
The first paragraph shall answer the questions 'Who', 'What', 'When', 'Where' and 'How':
The second paragraph contains more details, and preferably a quote from you. Quotes should be strictly formatted, such as "First sentence," says [your firstname lastname], author of [booktitle]. "Second sentence. Third sentence."
Possibly more detail, if needed. Ideally, summarize what the reader will gain from your book. If you did not include a quote in the second paragraph, do it here.
The boilerplate is where you put your bio, and inform the readers where they can purchase the book. Add hyperlinks to your profile page and your book page.
You should conclude your press release with a separate section for your contact information. Typically, an email address and a telephone number is fine. Journalists may call you on this number to find out more information.
Distributing your press release
Once you are ready with your press release, you should submit it to various press release distribution services. Simply search on Google for 'press release distribution'. There are free and paid services. Use the top 10-20 free services that are listed, and pay only when you know what you get in return.
Better yet, collect email addresses of journalists, newspapers and magazines that may be interested in your guidebook and your story. Check the imprint section of magazines and newspapers for email addresses, or search for specific journalists online.
Always try to approach journalists with a special angle. A newspaper in the destination you cover might bring a feature article in the lifestyle section, e.g. if you have uncovered new restaurants or written about interesting places to visit. A magazine in your hometown could be more interested in your personal story, and how and why you decided to write this particular guidebook.
If you have approached specific journalists with specialized angles for a story, and haven't heard anything back within 48 hours, try to contact them over the phone.
If you don't have the direct phone number, call the main line of the newspaper and let them connect you. Ask the journalist if he has received your press release and if he is going to write something about it. Have one or two article pitches prepared that you can suggest to the journalist in addition to the one in your press release.
The best way is to look for other articles written by the journalist, and to come up with ideas related to these and your guidebook.
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