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Small Business Series: The Anatomy of a Press Release

July 31, 2017  - Tips for Small Business
5 Ws and 1 H of Press Releases

Small business executives wear many hats. Often, when a company is just starting off, the roles can be blurred and some necessary functions can be overlooked or even avoided. Growing your business requires marketing to get it off the ground. With 63% of marketers stating that their top challenge is generating traffic and leads, according to State of Inbound, small businesses should not overlook one crucial item in their tool box: The Press Release.

In a world where the flow of information is faster and easier than ever, the modern-day press release has helped level the playing field for small and mid-sized companies. Is its role the same as back when radio ruled the world? No. However, its value as part of a strategic marketing and media relations plan remains strong.

Regardless of the type of business, owners may have a creative temperament combined with an entrepreneurial spirit, but they may not be knowledgeable in promoting the business. No matter the size of your organization, or whether you have a public relations professional on staff, anyone can write and issue a press release. A best-in-class distribution provider, such as PR Newswire, will offer insider tips and suggestions on how your press release can cut through the noise and make an impact. To give you some additional pointers, we'll be posting a series of articles to help you and your business.

Journalists refer to the 5Ws – or 5Ws and 1H – as the basic information every news piece should include. Typically, this is accomplished in the first paragraph, and then the story is elaborated on in the following paragraphs. This formula has been attributed to English rhetorician Thomas Wilson (1524-1581) to ensure the story framework follows a reasonable and understandable format, but was captured endearingly by Rudyard Kipling in his 1902 classic children's collection "Just So Stories":

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

5-W-and-1-H-of-Press-Releases

The 5W1H became more midstream after Kipling's poem, and by 1917, these guiding principals were being taught in journalism class. For our Anatomy of a Press Release series, we will apply the 5W1H to our upcoming blogs as follows:

Who: The Targeting

Understanding the audience you want to reach is vital.

What: The Format

What goes into the structure of the press release and new formats to reach that target audience. It's not just text anymore!

When: The Timing

Certain times for your press release are better than others to ensure your audience is reached. Make sure you understand timing, follow up and when to reach out to the media for additional pick up to increase exposure.

Where: The Distribution

There are various distribution options to explore. We will dive into this topic further in a later article to help you determine what works.

Why: The Topic

Your topic is extremely important. Make sure it is newsworthy and ready for release. If your company is struggling with identifying topics, check out our suggestions in the upcoming articles for fresh ideas.

How: The Writing

The all-important H may seem a little intimidating – but it needn't be. Writing press releases can follow a framework, can be as short as a few paragraphs, and if you follow the 5W1H – or most of them – you will be able to add VP of PR to your title!

If you're working with a PR, social media or guest blogging team, or just working with your PR hat on, it's important to maintain accountability for the content and distribution of your news release. Be clear with distribution and promotion plans and who is responsible. Drafts should be reviewed and approved so the release goes out in the most advantageous way.

Today's small business has more options available than ever to issue a press release and start driving more traffic and leads. Over the next few weeks we will explore the five W's and the H topics above and offer tips and resources for promoting your company's products and services.

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If your company needs access to capital to kick off your new PR or marketing effort, Ascentium Capital is here to help. Our working capital loan programs offer up to $250,000 as quickly as next day.

Contact us today to learn how Ascentium's fast, flexible financing can help your business grow.

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