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How to write a press release that gets YOU in the news

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Services for Real Estate Pros

Editors of periodicals, radio stations, and TV news channels get hundreds if not thousands of emailed press releases every day.  There are 3 rules you must absolutely follow if you want them to read your press releases and publish your news item.   1. Use correct formatting.  See the bottom of this article for that information.  2. Never send a press release that will be read on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, or the day after a holiday.  3. Write an eyeball-grabbing headline.  The headline is also the subject line of the emailed press release. 

Following Rule 3 is harder than you think.  Not only does the headline have to be exciting, but the best part must be within the first 12 words.  You have a nanosecond to get an editor's attention.  Getting your notary commission and opening your business is important only to you and your mother.  Editors and the general public could care less.  But your business is exactly what you want the public to read/hear about.  What's a notary to do?  The trick is to think of an exciting or touching way to describe your service.  I have been writing press releases for years.  I can knock out a good one in 20 minutes.  But I usually take several days to play around with a headline (let simmer in the back of my mind) to make certain I have a real "grabber."

Here is a recent personal story:  I don't do loan work (except for HUD-backed Reverse Mortgages) because I make more money doing general notary work.  Plus I became disgusted with refi LOs who banned me from their companies because they blamed me for causing their bait and switch loans to fail because I showed the borrowers where they could read the answers to their questions.  I don't care if I burn my bridges with the loan industry.  So I have been putting pro-consumer information on my website this year.  Next month I will start teaching seminars on how homeowners can learn how to get good loans and how to make certain the loan terms and costs they were promised are the same ones in the final docs.  (I am very careful to not give advice.)  So I wrote a press release to let the general public know about my seminars.

Like any novice press release writer working on a headline, I started playing with words like Seminar, Pro-consumer, Help, Learn, and Home loans.  I knew they were wrong, but I had to start with something.  Four days later I had a great one.  I emailed the release to everyone on my list on Thursday.  The next morning the main talk show host for the only news radio station in my two huge counties phoned me to ask if I would spend an hour with him on air during the afternoon commute.  He told me to pick the date.  Here is the headline/subject line for my home loan seminar that got his attention:   LENDERS HAVE BLACKLISTED ME SO I AM BLOWING THE WHISTLE - WHAT LENDERS DON'T WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR HOME LOAN

Here is the first paragraph in the body of the press release that created the segway between the headline and information about my seminar.  Note that the paragraph starts out with the name of my town.  Rural areas and small towns are always hungry for news about local people.

Bellingham notary Laura Vestanen states "Many lenders want notaries and title companies to rush borrowers through the signing of final home loan documents so bait-and-switch tactics are not noticed.  I have always refused to "play along" and thus have been black-listed by many lenders.  As a notary, it is my job to ascertain that people understand the documents they are signing before I notarize them.  I became so disgusted by the corruption in the industry I decided to stop doing loan work and instead give seminars to educate borrowers."

Just, put your mind inside the head of a bored editor and you, too, can write headlines that get you in the news.  Good luck! Laura

STANDARD PRESS RELEASE FORMAT

Please note that Active Rain's spacing shows double-spaced lines at inappropriate places.  The top 5 lines should be single spaced.  So should the 6 "for more info" lines.  Then one line before ###.  The lines below that are in bold should be in bold in your release.  Note that the headline in the release is in all caps.  Use your headline as the subject line for your email.  But in the email subject line, use the proper mix of caps and lower case.  The three # at the end are how newswriters and editors say "The End."  Use the symbols or they will think part of your email is missing and they will delete the message.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Your name

voice your phone number

fax your phone number

your email address

HEADLINE

Dateline: Name of your city, State (2 letters), date you are sending out press release

Body of message goes here.  Use short paragraphs.  Virtually all editors will cut out parts of your announcement.  If you are lucky, they will just cut off the top and bottom.  That is why you should put your website address somewhere in the middle of the body of your message, not at the end.  Don't forget the http:// part.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Your name

voice your phone number

fax your phone number

your email address

your website with http://

###

Comments(5)

Dawn Workman
Veracity Real Estate Group, LLC - Camas, WA
Camas Real Estate Expert, MBA, 480-540-8100
Thanks for the post.  I have tried to do some press releases but have not had much luck.  
Aug 23, 2007 04:42 PM
Laura Underwood
Above the Line Signing - Knob Noster, MO
Missouri Certified Notary Signing Agent
Thank you Laura for the great post.  I have never used press releases before.  Thank you for including the correct format!
Aug 24, 2007 02:14 AM
Laura Vestanen
Bellingham, WA
My book "Notary Marketing 2019" is on Amazon.com

Someone asked me what I get out of sending out press releases.  That's an excellent question.  If a marketing activity doesn't bring you business, it is a complete waste of time and money.

If your press releases are published with your website address intact, that boosts the chances of your website getting on page 1 of a google search for a notary in your area.  This is because most periodicals publish an online version as well as a paper one.  Google and Yahoo are popularity snobs.  A website that is visited by lots of people is "popular."  The more your website address is mentioned on popular websites, the better your Google/Yahoo ranking.  Newspaper websites tend to be very popular.

If you are a notary who only wants to do loan work, press releases won't get you work.  But if you offer notary services to the general public like I do, then information in the news about you gives you name familiarity in your community.

Plus you can inspire people to get documents notarized by reminding them of upcoming events.  In the spring I always send out a release about how kids who will be doing summer travel with only 1 parent in attendance will need a notarized letter of permission from the non-accompanying parent.  I do lots of these notarizations in May and June.

I specialize in knowing the very tricky types of notarizations, like adoption of babies from foreign countries.  When someone approaches a notary at Kinkos or some other store who only does the easiest of notary work, they refer people wanting the tricky work to me.  They know me because I have created a lot of name familiarity in my area.  I've done this by thanking my referrers and by sending out press releases to get me in articles and on the radio.  I've run into people who remembered what I said on the radio over a year after a particular programme aired. 

If you are in a metro area, I don't think building name recognition is worth all the work it would take.  But if you are in a small town or a rural area, it can really pay off.

Good luck!   Laura     http://www.ProfessionalNotary.com

Aug 24, 2007 01:52 PM
Jacqueline Dyson
Dyson's Mobile Notary Service - Sacramento, CA
Laura, I wish you much success with your new project. Please keep us updated regarding your success!
Oct 26, 2007 12:45 PM
Mary Ellen Elmore
Nunnelly, TN
Thank you so much for this advice. It is the most comprhensive of any of the articles I have read that say send out a press release.
Dec 14, 2007 01:48 AM