Maybe I’m living in the past. I was, many years ago, a PR man in the Johnson Division of OMC (RIP). I remember writing news releases about everything from outboards to the Air-Buoy. (Anyone remember that product? It was neat, but it didn’t sell.)
Back in those days, getting publicity using the press release was a PR man’s stock in trade. But what about now in the 21st century? Should writing the good old press release even be considered?
The answer is a resounding yes. In my Johnson days the press release was primarily intended to get our name in the newspapers. Today, a press release can be more powerful in, for example, driving traffic to your website, getting picked up by Internet news sites and improve your search engine optimization, to name a few benefits. So how do you get it done?
First, you don’t have to be a PR pro to write a news release, albeit you could hire a local freelancer or other professional. Likely, you have someone in your dealership that could put together a news release. The writing is really a very basic, objective style that tells about the subject, like a reporter giving the news. Read a local paper or Internet news site for short stories about a new product or an event announcement at a local business, etc. Follow the same format and it’s done.
Writing for SmallBusinessComputing.com, Maryalene LaPonsie recently offered some other valuable tips that any dealer could follow to get publicity in his local marketing area. Here are some highlights:
• Substance is important: Remember that the main purpose of a press release is to announce something newsworthy. It should contain substantive, timely and relevant information — not thinly veiled advertising. In other words, forget the claiming an “amazing boat that will revolutionize your life” and just simply tell the story. What story?
• LaPonsie points out that, according to the press release distribution service PR Newswire, subjects meriting a press release include: New product launches; special events; business milestones; and opinions on industry trends. I’ll add, concerning the latter, your opinion as a dealer of legislative or regulatory actions that effect boating and your customers are great subjects for a press release or op-ed piece in your local papers. And you can easily pick up relevant facts you that can localize from our industry news, for example, here at Trade Only Today.
• Distributing your press release can go two ways. (1) You can pay an online distribution service (like PR Newswire or eReleases) to publish your release both on their site and on major portals such as Google News and Yahoo News. Some distribution sites will even write and edit your release, too. But you don’t need to go that route since you are primarily looking for press coverage in just your local market. (2) So you can upload your release to your website, post it to LinkedIn and, most important, make sure you email your release to your local paper(s) and community magazine(s) where there is less competition with other newsmakers. And don’t forget weekly papers or shopper publications in your area. They thrive on local news.
Some things never change. Such is the case for the old press release. And good local publicity can do nothing but boost your dealership image and recognition in your market.