Everybody is talking about social media, but what about the other media – the news media? One often overlooked way of beefing up your current marketing program is to leverage the press with effective press releases. In this blog post, we will review some of the elements of a good press release, and why leveraging the media can easily be a part of every equipment dealers’ marketing mix.

Although some might argue that the biggest benefit of a well-managed public relations program is that it is mostly at no-cost, the real value is credibility. When someone reads about your business in the media, even if it is a self-generated press release, the fact that it appears in the open, public forum immediately elevates it above a standard marketing piece.

Here are several guidelines for writing and distributing powerful and effective press releases.

1. Newsworthy
A press release needs to be based on a newsworthy aspect of your business. Although a good release has tremendous marketing value, it cannot be purely a marketing piece. With that said, there are many opportunities for a press release in the normal course of business. New hires, new contracts, new locations, industry recognition and personal accomplishments are all examples. The key is to pick the topics that have the most potential interest to the marketplace, particularly for your target customers.

2. Interesting
If people have no desire to read a particular release, it becomes useless. The key to making a good press release interesting is to either provide information that is both useful and valuable to the reader, or to at least tell a story in a compelling way. As with any journalistic piece, you must “hook the reader” in order to get them to read it. And before you can hook a reader, you must first hook an editor who will grant you space in the publication.

3. Well Written
Since a press release reflects directly on your dealership, it must be impeccably written in every respect. Sloppy or poorly written press releases can do more harm than good by creating a negative image of your dealership in the reader’s mind. If you are using a paid distribution channel for your release, it is up to you to ensure that the release is flawless. If you are trying to get your release published by a media outlet, the decision will be up to the editor, who won’t think twice about trashing your release—literally—if it does not meet editorial standards. Clear writing, good grammar, accurate spelling and perfect punctuation are all essential elements of a good press release and can matter as much as the content itself.

4. Properly Organized
News agencies, media outlets and even paid distribution sites all typically require that press releases be formatted in a standardized style. (The LEAF marketing department can provide you with a simple press release template: CLICK HERE to obtain your copy.)

5. Distribution
Press releases can be distributed through either a legitimate media outlet – print, TV, or radio – or through an online distribution service. Going through legitimate media sources raises the bar on the quality and value of your release since you will have to first get past an editor. On the other hand, paid distribution services will get your release in front of hundreds or even thousands of readers, while typically charging a nominal fee of up to several hundred dollars per release. Releases can usually be submitted in either hard copy or print format, but you should always check the submission requirements of the outlets or services you wish to submit to.

Leveraging free or nominal-expense publicity for marketing your dealership is an excellent way to gain exposure for your brand and to increase your visibility in the marketplace. With a little bit of time and effort, your public relations initiative will become an integral and important part of your overall marketing efforts.