Our last article dealt with public relations – an oft misrepresented, albeit entirely vital, aspect of marketing. Within the sphere of public relations itself are numerous branches, many of which are relevant to bed and breakfast properties.
Arguably, one of the most important of these branches is the press release. A press release is a term most everyone has heard. Yet, very few are familiar with it. Even less have proficient experience in writing a proper press release. Nonetheless, writing a professional, informative release can do wonders in increasing the business of your inn.
For starters, a press release is a written article announcing a piece of newsworthy information that is directed to the media, particularly newspapers, for use in their publications. “Press release” may be the most common term used for this type of news story, but it can also be referred to as a news release, media release, or press statement. Along similar lines is the less popular but still effective alternative: a video news release (VNR). This format clearly differs from a press release in that a VNR is a video segment that appears on a news channel as a featured story rather than in a newspaper. The perks of getting a press release picked up and published by the media are plentiful. For one, a press release is, in essence, free advertising. And since it’s being produced by a news organization, credibility to your product is ensured more swiftly than through your own advertising methods.
There’s no need to be a journalist to create an effective release of any sort. More than anything, persistence, patience, and a couple rough drafts are essential in producing a release of which you can be proud and the news media would be keen to include.
Before you even begin drafting the release, you first need to have something of significance to write about – something the public would be interested in learning. A newspaper’s purpose is to inform readers. Consequently, no newspaper will freely include a blasé press release in its pages. So rack your brain for something exceptional. Is your bed and breakfast a building of historic significance? Is an anniversary of its construction coming up anytime soon?
If you can’t come up with any smashing ideas, take matters into your own hands. Do something that will make your bed and breakfast newsworthy. Refurbish the inn. Change the protocol of how you run the inn (for example, decide to go green). Involve the bed and breakfast in community affairs that are out of the ordinary (perhaps you could consider extending a free weekend stay to an influential individual in the area).
Once you’ve got an idea, run with it! Begin constructing the press release. If there is one bit of advice that will give you the best shot at getting your release published, it’s this: think like a reporter! Easier said than done? Maybe…but it’s still valuable counsel and not as tricky as you might initially dread. First and foremost, remember that a press release is vastly different from an advertisement. Refrain from including biased phrases that flaunt the bed and breakfast. Virtually any newspaper’s main priority is to report objective news, so that should become your priority, as well. Read through an advertisement and then read through a news article. Distinguish the differences between the two; there will be many. Then sculpt your release to fit within the parameters of the news article.
Keep wording concise and sentences brief. Newspaper articles are designed to provide the most up-to-date and relevant information possible in a relatively condensed space. There is a metaphor commonly used in journalism knows as the “reverse pyramid.” Follow this. It is designed to place the most important information at the beginning of the article and trickling down to the less important as the article progresses.
Aside from the press release itself, there are a few other elements that ought to be included to make your release appear professional. Be sure to incorporate the following:
Headline: the headline should grab the reader’s attention and prompt him to continue reading the body of the article
Dateline: the dateline includes the release date of the article as well as the origin city
Lead: this first paragraph of the article should include the who, what, where, when, and why of the article
Boilerplate: the article’s conclusion should include an “about” section pertaining to the property
Close: This is a simple “###” used to inform the reader the article is concluded
Contact Information: After the “close” include your contact information (name, address, phone number, email address, website, etc.)
After you’ve created what you feel is a good enough press release, go through it again. And again. And again. Have someone else do the same. Journalists will not be impressed if they receive a release with typos or other flagrant errors. Make the article great – something that a newspaper will be hard-pressed to pass up. And by so doing, you will find you inn receiving a whole new level of recognition unobtainable through any other manner.