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EFFECTIVELY USING PRESS RELEASES FOR YOUR BUSINESS

WRITING AND SUBMITTING PRESS RELEASES FOR GREAT P.R.

S a n F r a n c i s c o , C A • i n f o @ G r e e n B u s i n e s s O w n e r. c o m • w w w. G r e e n B u s i n e s s O w n e r. c o m Copyright Green Business Owner 2010

Executive Summary!
Why Use Press Releases to Publicize Your Sustainable Company? ! Good Public Relations and Awareness of Your Brand--the Advantages of Being Green! Document Summary!

2 2 2 2 3 3 3 4 5 6 7 7 7 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 13 13 15
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Part 1--Writing Effective Press Releases!
Press Releases for Green Businesses! The Elements of a Successful Press Release! Social Media and the Press Release--Dawn of a New Era?! Key Points to Remember! Exhibit 1--Sample (Fictitious) Press Release!

Part 2--Submitting a Press Release--Where, How and To Whom?!
Newspapers! Community-focused Publications! Radio! Web Logs (Blogs)! News Wire Websites! Finding the Appropriate Person to Send Your Press Release To! Final Advice! Exhibit 2--Sample News Wire for Green Business Publicity!

Part 3--External Resources For Green PR!
Public Relations Firms--What Do They Do?! How to Find a Good PR Firm for Your Business!

Appendix 1--Glossary of Terms!
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Executive Summary
Why Use Press Releases to Publicize Your Sustainable Company? A press release is typically a written communication directed at members of the news corps, intended as a means to publicize something in the common interest. When newsworthy and appropriate for your business’s field of operations, press releases can be, in effect, free advertising for your company. If a media outlet (newspaper, blog, magazine, etc.) picks up your press release and decides it newsworthy, it may run a story on the subject, featuring your company as a leader in that arena. A well-written, timely, and provocative press release, delivered to the right person at the right publishing agency, has the chance to give your business a tremendous boost without costing you anything but the time required to write it and submit it, and perhaps to conduct a follow-up interview with a writer or editor. The additional advantage of a press release over purchased advertising space is that readers see it as a general interest story, rather than a paid advertisement. If an independent, 3rd party organization, like a newspaper, runs an article on your business, it has the effect of creating a more favorable impression with readers than a general advertisement. Good Public Relations and Awareness of Your Brand--the Advantages of Being Green Public Relations are one area where sustainable businesses have a tremendous advantage over conventional counterparts. As cutting edge businesses that are selflessly focused not just on their profits but on society, the local economy, and the environment, sustainable businesses make a great story for news and media organizations. How successful can a good press release be? Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia and author of Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman, encourages green businesses to use press releases to generate a lot of good, free, publicity: PR companies will tell you that a favorable, independent press release is worth 3-8 times the same space paid for in an advertisement. Using a more conservative 1-1 formula, we calculated that in 1994, the year we came out with Synchilla fleece made from recycled soda bottles, we generated $5 million worth of free press for the company. By no means is this process a sure bet. With terrific returns like this, it is understandable that news agencies are overwhelmed with well-written, relevant press releases every day. Document Summary This document will show you how to write an effective press release for a socially responsible, sustainable business, and how to submit it to the right media companies at the right time, so that you have the best chances of success. In part 1, we discuss how to write an effective press release including incorporating ‘tweetable’ lines, hash tags, and other social media tools, and give you a sample press release for a fictitious company. In part 2, we discuss where and how to submit press releases to appropriate media companies, including a list of great places to submit sustainable press releases. In part 3, we introduce PR as an external resource for your company, profiling how green PR firms can help you maximize the attention your company gets from the media. The document closes with a glossary of relevant terms for your reference, both current and future.

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Part 1--Writing Effective Press Releases
Press Releases for Green Businesses If successfully published, a press release may yield a great deal of free publicity for small green businesses--more so than they can probably afford to buy in direct advertising. If used by a media outlet, such as a local newspaper, a press release can turn into a front page article about a topic critical to your business and its operation, and will likely include a good deal of information about the business as a locally relevant part of the story. Press releases and the stories that are written from them have the additional benefit of an appearance of impartiality. Readers feel they’re reading news, rather than advertisements, to which they may generally be less open. A benefit of being a sustainable business is that the media loves stories that feature ‘feel good’, or ‘underdog’ aspects. A story about climate change has a broad general interest topic, and if your company is carbon neutral, for example, a local news outlet may ‘localize’ the global issue of climate change by featuring locally owned companies like yours that are creating jobs and doing their part to fight climate change. To the reader, this combination of attributes makes them feel positive about their world, your business, and the newspaper covering the story. It’s a true win-win all the way around. However, as mentioned in the Executive Summary above, the odds of your press release being picked up are small. There are many reasons for this. First off, media outlets receive many more press releases than they can feasibly use. It’s not a big secret that a successful press release is good for business, so the competition is fierce. Secondly, luck plays a large factor. If a reporter or other writer has been covering clean water supplies in the third world in a series, and your press release covers an aspect of that that the writer finds interesting, you may be in luck. If your press release is about energy efficiency, that same writer may find it interesting, but not worthy of his or her full attention. Another major consideration is that bloggers, reporters, writers, managers, and editors can be sensitive to the feeling of exploitation if they feel you are trying to simply use them for free advertising. The trick is to make it appear timely, newsworthy, or in some other way compelling enough that someone will want to publicize it. And then, with a little luck and a slow news day, you may well get very, very lucky.

The Elements of a Successful Press Release Writing and releasing a good press release takes a certain amount of know-how, but a degree in journalism is certainly not necessary. The reward, should one be successful, is certainly worth the price of spending some time learning how to write one, including researching it, writing it, and sending it to the appropriate agents. 1. A headline that grabs. You have one chance to grab your readers’ attention. An editor at a magazine may see a hundred or more press releases every day. The headline needs to entice further attention and justify the time that would be required to read the rest of the document. Creativity is not the only factor, however. Web crawler indexing has made it such that it is very important to have your company name and some keywords in your headline. We advise that you try to do both: creativity AND keywords. Limit your headline to 15 words, 18 for subheadings. 2. Keywords. You’ll want to make sure you include keywords in your press release, especially in the headline and introductory paragraph where most search engines focus. This is becoming increasingly important for search engine optimization (SEO), as press releases are increasingly targeted to online media that are searchable by keyword. For instance, in Exhibit 1, below, Hemingway, Inc. uses the keywords “Youth”, “Social Media”, “Sustainable”,
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“Restaurants”, and “Retail”. Keywords are often searched for by people looking for a product or service, and they give your release the chance of popping up when they do so. Purchasing distribution through a newswire often allows you the opportunity to also purchase a hyperlink, which will allow you to embed a link to your website within one of the keywords in your headline or body of your release. 3. Contact information and date. Usually located in the upper left header, you should make it easy for someone interested in the story to contact you at first glance. Including your company logo, name, phone number and website is fairly common here. Make sure to include the date so that the reader knows that it is relevant and timely. 4. First paragraph summary. Make sure that the news item is the main subject of the first paragraph--what has happened to make this ‘newsworthy?’ Why now? Why today? The first paragraph needs to summarize not only the timeliness of the subject but also the overall big picture as it applies to society, or some larger social issue. 5. Body of the press release. The remaining paragraphs should provide some real world insights, unusual perspectives, and additionally address the larger implications of your newsworthy topic. Try not to exceed one page, as your readers have limited time to spend reading press releases, and may simply discard any that are too large to be read quickly. 6. A paragraph summarizing your company’s relevance to the subject and potential expertise. Who are you? What do you do? Why is your company relevant to this bigger picture you’ve just painted? 7. Contact information. Underneath a line with a couple of pound signs (#), include your contact information, even if it is repeating what is above in the top-left header. Make it easy for someone to reach you for an interview!

Social Media and the Press Release--Dawn of a New Era? Social media, as it is called, is reframing the traditional field of Public Relations. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn,Yelp and other social media outlets provide good additions to press releases. Using a multi-media format (email, electronic submissions of press releases, etc.) that allows embedded links and social media applications allows you to provide numerous resources to media outlets that a fax or paper copy of your press release won’t. Presuming your press release is available on a page of your website, it is a good idea to include a ‘Tweetable’ line that allows readers to simply click and send your information out to their network of followers on Twitter. Twitter allows 140 characters per ‘tweet’. Your ‘Tweetable’ line should be roughly 15-20 characters less than this, to allow personal additions if people choose to ‘re-tweet’ you. For example, our ‘Tweetable’ line might be, “Press Release document from Green Business Owner saves Cafe Organico $1000‘s! http://3bl.me/q73thf. #Organics”. The link allows people to go to your site where they can find the full text of the press release, and the ‘hash tag’ (#Organics) allows the comment to join a thread of others with the same hash tag, so that someone could follow all comments with “#Organics” in them. Choose a popular hash tag (try searching a couple of keywords to see what’s ‘hot’ in Twitter-land), and you’ll be able to piggyback on its popularity. You’ll also likely need to shorten a URL in order to fit it into your ‘Tweet’. It’s very easy: simply go to www.3bl.me and follow the instructions. If you have a Facebook page associated with your business or your event you’re promoting in your press release, include a link to it in the release. Once again, if it’s an online version that someone is reading, this makes it easy for them to just click on the link, and assuming they are logged in to their Facebook account already, they will be brought to the social networking site, and if they become a ‘fan’ of your business or RSVP for your event, all of their friends will see that they’ve joined....and you may have the beginnings of a social epidemic as your brand goes viral! There is no major content change necessary for making a press release “social media-friendly”--the basic elements remain the same. It’s simply the medium of transmission that changes.
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Key Points to Remember There are many elements to writing an effective press release, and as mentioned, luck is a big one. However, you should give yourself every chance of success by following these guidelines as you write your press release. 1. Be succinct. If you can get it done in one page, do so. Resist the urge to overstate your case and add so many details that the main point becomes drowned out, oversold, or simply diluted. 2. Stick to your point. 3. Write from a third person perspective. Do not use “I” or “We”, and do not express your own opinion directly. 4. Steer clear of overstating your case with expressions that seem like hype. If you find yourself using words like “Extreme”, “cutting edge” or “breakthrough”, try to tone it down a bit. If you can, play devil’s advocate with yourself, or at least have a friend or coworker do it for you. Would an average reader believe what you’re saying? 5. Use business-style writing, with block paragraphs and no indentation. The tone should also be business. Coldhard facts, bottom line numbers, and just meat and bones, no fat. No matter how well you write your press release, how funny or interesting it is, or how relevant the topic, it has a very good chance of never seeing the light of day. This may not be a reflection at all on your business or your writing, but could have something to do with any number of factors that are beyond your control, or the press agent’s control. The key is to keep trying. Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say, nor should you assume that your very first press release, no matter how great, will get any publicity. Don’t let it get you down! If you can make a journalist’s job of covering your story easier, they will appreciate it. Enough, in fact, that it just might help your story clear some final hurdles to publication. One major consideration is that newspapers in particular, and all media in general, want high quality pictures to include in their stories. You may consider hiring a professional photographer to cover your events or to take a variety of pictures of your business or the current project you’re working on. If you are emailing a writer at a particular media group, and you have professional photos, particular contacts in the industry that are of value to a writer looking for suitable quotes, access to a research report (such as the one on which the sample press release in Exhibit 1 is based), or other resources, mention it in the body of your email. Have it handy to email to a writer as an attachment, and if possible, put them on your website or one of the other free web resources (create a YouTube user account if you have videos to share, for example), so that they’re easy to get if a writer wants them. A good general guiding principle for you is to be resourceful and keep good track of the resources at your disposal so that you can readily share them with a writer interested in covering your story. Another consideration to keep in mind is when NOT to send a press release. Some entrepreneurs take the shotgun approach with their PR campaigns, including their press releases: they send out as many as possible, in as many directions as possible, hoping that one or several may find their target and get published. This can actually have the effect of becoming noise and causing regular readers of newswires and journalists who receive your releases directly to begin ignoring your work. It’s the “Boy who cried wolf” phenomenon. So how can you find balance in when to send a press release and when not to? The answer, according to marketing consulting firm Red Fly Marketing, is to send a release when you have something newsworthy. What’s newsworthy to you might not be newsworthy to others, though. The best way to know is to regularly read the publications you’re submitting to, so that you have an idea of what THEY believe is newsworthy. If your company has something newsworthy four times per month, then it is justifiable to send as many press releases. But if your release is not newsworthy, you’re not doing yourself much good in sending it out, and you may, in fact, be doing your company’s reputation not insubstantial harm.

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Exhibit 1--Sample (Fictitious) Press Release

Contact: John Hemingway! ! Office: 415-222-2222 Email: John@Hemingway.com San Francisco, CA, April 28, 2009

!

!

!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MAJORITY OF YOUTH NOW USING SOCIAL MEDIA TO FIND SUSTAINABLE RESTAURANTS AND RETAIL OUTLETS
Hemingway Software Helping 18-30 Year Old Demographic Understand Sustainability and Health--And Theyʼre Choosing Sustainable Options Twitter: Hemingway driving business away from fast food and toward local, sustainable restaurants. http://3bl.me/3hgq77 #Rowdies! A survey conducted on consumer spending choices amongst the young adult group by Harris Conductive, Inc., found that a majority of these customers use social media as their primary means of deciding where and how to spend their disposable income. The change from the 2006 poll represents a dramatic shift as this generation has crossed the tipping point in seeking unbiased information from their peers as opposed to advertising sponsored media such as traditional phone books, magazines, and newspapers. “Itʼs been a tremendous boon to my business,” said Trevor Price, restaurateur in San Franciscoʼs bustling Mission District at Chez Treve, which serves mostly local, sustainable, and organic products, and has a smaller ad budget than its competitors. “If we had to spend as much on advertising as our conventional counterparts, weʼd have to use lower quality ingredients in order to stay price competitive,” Price said. The trend has given rise to social media campaigns and other grassroots efforts at trying to optimize a given establishmentʼs social media ranking. One group, which has taken to calling themselves the Real Food Rowdies, seek out, sample, and, if deserved, drive very positive social media reviews toward locally-owned, sustainable food (and retail) enterprises like Chez Treve. “The Rowdies came in here en masse one day, about 25 of them,” said Price. “They were sharp kids. They asked me some questions, ate and drank, and then spent some time on their phones, and when they left, our Yelp ranking had 25 new five star ratings. Business has been very good since then.” “The potential for groups like this to counterbalance the tremendous advantage enjoyed by chain fast food stores in terms of ad budgets bodes really well for the future of sustainable food, local living economies, job creation, and the health of our countryʼs citizens,” said Jamella Harris, Public Health professional for San Francisco County. “We have struggled for years with figuring out how to counter the overwhelming disparity between the ads for junk food with the real message of healthy and sustainable food, and the Rowdies are simply doing our jobs for us. Itʼs terrific!” Hemingway, Inc. educates, organizes, and provides virtual meeting space for youth enthusiasts of healthy and sustainable foods at www.Hemingway.com, where the Real Food Rowdies organize. Hemingwayʼs mission is to level the playing field for small, locally owned retail stores and restaurants competing with large multinationals by using social media to encourage the use of peer-to-peer information over million dollar advertising budgets. ### For more information, visit www.Hemingway.com, or to schedule a follow-up interview with Mr. Hemingway, contact Patricia Allen at 415-222-2222.

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Part 2--Submitting a Press Release--Where, How and To Whom?
Newspapers Newspapers are generalists in the media: reporting the news nationally and from the local area. This contrasts to magazines, radio, and other outlets that may have different niches (i.e., a magazine that focuses on brides, hobbyists, or a particular industry and radio stations that cater to a certain demographic because of the music they play). Thus, if your company is focusing locally, and has a broad potential audience, newspapers make a good outlet for press releases. A good example would be a local dry cleaner offering the first non-perchloroethylene dry cleaning service in a town, a restaurant started by a local celebrity, or a bakery that is producing sustainable breads using a lot of local ingredients. The more local, the better in terms of garnering attention from newspapers, whose readership tends to be people who want to find out what is going on in their community. Press desks at newspapers are just as inundated with press releases as they have ever been, perhaps more so, and meanwhile are perhaps busier than they’ve ever been, due to the downturn in the newspaper industry and the layoffs that have left many short-staffed. Needless to say your odds of success in getting a newspaper to pick up your press release and use it for a story are slim, for these and many other reasons. However, several factors make newspapers a good potential source of publicity for your business. First, newspapers tend to have the highest readership of any publication in a particular geographic area, meaning more potential customers. Second, newspapers publish daily, as opposed to magazines that may publish once a month. Thus, there may be slow news days where your press release may just be the most exciting thing the writers have going! And third, newspapers are very accustomed to receiving press releases, analyzing them, investigating them and writing them up. Non-traditional news sources, like blogs (see below), operate differently in terms of their production model. Community-focused Publications In addition to newspapers, there are many publications that service small geographic areas, such as free community papers, periodic newsletters, community bulletins, and publications of local business associations. Your odds of success in publishing a press release with one of these publications is much higher, typically, than with your city’s newspaper. Of course, the readership is likely to be far less. This avenue of publicity is highly recommended. You are likely to reach active citizens concerned about local economies, interested in local issues, and who like to support local businesses as opposed to chain stores. You’re also likely to raise awareness of your brand with other local business owners, who may be likely to send you customers of theirs (assuming they’re not direct competitors), and who may be terrific contacts for you when dealing with local issues such as zoning ordinances, taxes, and local policies. Radio Browse radio stations’ websites and you will likely find a page on their site for press or ‘contacts’. You may wish to start sending press releases to your local National Public Radio (NPR) affiliate. The audience of NPR is usually a little older, highly educated, and has higher than average disposable income. This makes a good target market for green businesses, as this demographic tends to choose healthy, environmentally friendly products over conventional alternatives.
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Usually, press releases given to a local radio station are uploaded through their website without being directed to anyone in particular. However, there may be a particular DJ or talk show host that covers issues relevant to your business, or is the business and/or environmental reporter at the station, and if that’s the case, try to direct the press release directly to that person. Besides NPR, there may be college radio stations or progressive radio stations in your area, both of which might be fertile ground for your business’s press release. Don’t discount other radio stations by any means, but realize that stations that are not locally owned are not likely to have much staff locally that pays attention to local press releases. This is one of the many reasons that many people don’t like media consolidation--the media company based in Dallas, Texas, that operates radio stations all over the country is not likely to lose much sleep over your town and its interests, and that includes your business and its press release! Web Logs (Blogs) A web log (blog) is effectively an online magazine that publishes articles of interest to a particular set of readers, and derives its revenues mostly from advertising placed next to the articles its users are reading. Many operate in much the same way as traditional magazines, where stories are published based on their relevance, timeliness, and relevance to a particular industry. In this way, green business blogs present a terrific opportunity for green businesses to reach a targeted market of readers and by-pass the traditional media. Most green blogs will have There are a good many green blogs that employ writers whose interests may coincide with the values inherent in your press release. In no particular order: • TriplePundit.com: Triple Pundit (3p) is one of the world's most well-read and fastest growing websites featuring news and information on business and technology that leave the world better off. The site is read by more than 100,000 corporate decision makers, experts, professionals, and social entrepreneurs per month.  3p accepts press releases to contact@triplepundit.com but prefers to maximize communications impact with creative affiliate partnerships described on their affiliate page here - http://www.triplepundit.com/affiliates/ • TreeHugger.com: General interest green living that is now part of the Discovery Channel family of companies. Separate links allow you to post your press release or story tip under “Business and Politics”, “Culture and Celebrity”, “Design and Architecture”, “Fashion and Beauty”, “Food and Health”, “Home and Garden”, “Science and Technology”, “Cars and Transportation”, “Travel and Nature”, and “Work and Community”. If your story doesn’t fit any of these categories, general tips go to tips@treehugger.com. • GreenBiz.com: Well-read business blog headed by Joel Makower, author of a number of green business books, including Strategies for the Green Economy. Parent company Greener World Media encourages users to submit press releases but makes no guarantees of publication and cautions that they are most likely to succeed if they fit in with the company’s editorial guidelines, which can be found at http://www.greenerworldmedia.com/about/guidelines.html • GreenOptions.com: A family of sustainability-related blogs, Green Options Media includes Red Green and Blue (environment politics), EcoLocalizer (local economy), Eat Drink Better (sustainable food), Ecopreneurist (Small Business) and several others--15 in total as of this writing. To submit a press release to the Green Options press desk, email PR-NO@GreenOptions.com (for news and opinion), PR-FL@GreenOptions.com (for family and lifestyle), or PR-BT@GreenOptions.com (for business and technology).

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• Grist.org: A fairly sophisticated blog covering Politics, Community, Green Living, Climate and Energy, Grist is well respected and known for its straight talk. You can submit a press release or news tip through an online form at http://www.grist.org/contact/contact-us In general, blogs are similar to traditional media, but there are a variety of very distinct differences. First, there is much less editorial control in blogs than in traditional media. A writer, therefore, usually has much greater flexibility in the stories they choose to write and how they present the material. For you, that means you can probably find the writer who covers topics similar to the story you’re looking to promote, and who has a writing style you like, and contact them directly with an email introducing your story. To do this, simply read the blog roll until you find writers you like and follow the links to reach them (most blogs will have the writer’s name hyperlinked, so you can directly click on their link and see a bio and contact info). The second major difference is that these outlets tend to be more plugged-in than their traditional counterparts. Thus, your press release or email to writers should include social media links, allowing writers to see information you’ve created on a Facebook account, or ‘tweet-able’ links allowing Twitter users to follow your story as it is published. News Wire Websites There are a variety of websites that offer news wire services that operate on the ‘pay-for-play’ model. In effect, you simply write up your press release and submit it to these services, pay a fee, and you are guaranteed of publication. If your budget permits, this is the easiest and most effective way of getting your information published on the web on a variety of websites. We’ve recommended a few newswires below, but have not included prices for most of them, as prices will inevitably change over time and current prices are easy enough to find on the sites themselves. Two problems arise from this approach. First, these services may or may not be well-respected. If companies are paying for publicity on these sites, there is an obvious question of quality. Are these releases necessarily newsworthy? Won’t readers feel they are simply being advertised to? Second, with no editor or writer choosing to pick up your press release (instead it is just picked up because you’ve paid for it), there is no quality control once it leaves your desk. You may think you’ve written a fantastic press release, but the ultimate judge is an independent third party who works in the news. An editor or news writer who picks up your press release and publishes it does so because they deem it newsworthy, exciting, relevant, and timely. These people work in this industry every day, and therefore their selection of your release is a pseudo-certification of its credibility. Without this filter, what you think is a good press release may simply go ‘dud’ because of something you’ve forgotten to address, a statistic you misinterpret, a competitor who beats you to the punch, etc. With that in mind, this approach still guarantees you coverage on a website that is not yours. Don’t discount this exposure! It can be important for search engine optimization, as well as for future reference, when a potential customer researches your company or your industry and encounters multiple stories referring to you out on the web. Many customers simply won’t know that you had to pay for this exposure, and may assume that these sites are independent media and that the story is credible. If you decide to follow this path, there are a few important pieces of advice we’d offer. First, have someone who is as independent as possible read through your release and make sure that it is exciting, relevant, and packed with useful information. More importantly, ask them to make sure it reads AS IF it were covered by an independent news agency, and not blatant self-promotion. Second, find a site that is reputable and relevant to your industry. If, for example, your release on wind energy is covered by a fashion website, not only will it lose most of its regular readers, it will turn off anyone who stumbles upon it because they’re looking for relevant information on wind energy and understandably might find the juxtaposition with fashion to be disconcerting in terms of the validity of the information.
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If you have any nagging doubts, many of these sites offer writing and editing services for a fee, which is very worthwhile if you have the budget for it. After all, you only get one chance to make a first impression. See Exhibit 2 for an example of a newswire for green business enthusiasts. There are several good things covered, such as the fact that this is an established site (since 1996), with good traffic (300,000 visits per month), and the numerous places where your news item will be featured. As mentioned, however, there is no filter, so quality control (“Your press release will go online within minutes of your posting date”) is completely up to you. Regular readers of this kind of newswire may be quick to judge you on the first spelling or grammatical error, knowing full well that they’ve seen other releases on this site that were less than professional due to the ‘pay-for-play’ format and thus limiting their trust. So write as well as you can, follow the steps above to make the release appear as professional as possible, and make sure to get someone else to take a look at it for you! Several recommended triple bottom line news wires you might want to consider: • SustainableBusiness.com (see Exhibit 2) • ENN.com (short for Environmental News Network, this outlet is very consumer focused) • CSRWire.com • 3BLMedia.com (this service is different in that you pay for a campaign, not for individual releases) • Ascribe.org There are a variety of other, more generally focused business news wires available. These will have a more general audience that may or may not be interested in sustainable business ventures like yours, but regardless offer an additional opportunity for distribution if your budget allows. • PRWeb.com • PRNewsWire.com • BusinessWire.com Finding the Appropriate Person to Send Your Press Release To In order to avoid having your well-written, well-timed press release end up in an editor’s ‘circular file’ (industry lingo for trash can or recycle bin), it is crucial to get it into the hands of the person most likely to cover your story or event. If you happen to read the particular news media that you are sending the release to, you may simply know which writers and reporters cover sustainability, business, and any other areas that are directly relevant to your company. If so, address your press release directly to that person, either through their email that they may post in each article, or by calling their company and finding out how to address your press release to that person. Odds are, a few moments of internet research will yield results for you in terms of finding a writer most likely to pick up your story. The bottom line, though, is: address your press release to the right person, and your odds of success have just gotten much better. The better you know the writer, the better ‘pitch’ to them you can make. You may be tempted, especially for important events, to send your press release to someone a little higher up, such as a manager or editor. While it’s possible this person will get your story to the front page, it’s also a lot more likely that it will go nowhere (but the circular file). Editors and managers are even busier and more distracted than writers. Our advice, at least for your first couple of press releases, is to start with the writers themselves. Once you’ve beGreen Business Owner ! E f f e c t i v e l y U s i n g P r e s s R e l e a s e s f o r Yo u r B u s i n e s s

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come a Patagonia, you may enjoy the undivided attention of managers and editors, but until then, you’re likely to waste your time and effort should you choose to try to land the big fish. Remember, you’re not trying to ‘sell’ a writer on your story. You are providing them resources that will help make them a more successful journalist. Try to put yourself in the journalist’s shoes: what would make you want to write this up as a story? Make their job easier and provide them with good materials, and you have a better chance of success. In addition, if you present your company, your press release, and yourself in a highly organized, highly professional manner and have shown that you do your homework, you have a good chance of entering their rolodex of ‘experts’ they will interview when other stories are relevant to your industry. Once you’ve determined the right person to send your press release to, you may increase your chances of success with a (brief) personalized email. You may address the writer directly in a formal email (using surnames and the same professional writing style you used in the press release itself). If so, do a little research on them first. Read their last couple of articles, and in your letter, you can let them know that you thought their work was interesting for a variety of reasons (use specific examples). Follow that with a lead-in to your topic, showing how closely connected their usual articles are with your press release, and then let the press release do the rest. If you are emailing, you should copy and paste the text of the press release directly into the body of the email, as many email servers will have spam filters protecting against unknown contacts with attachments, and many people won’t open attachments for fear of viruses. Always have those attachments (documents, pictures, etc.) available to send to someone upon request or previous arrangement, but as a general rule, it is not a good idea to send unsolicited emails with attachments. If you do want to include a picture in your email, make sure the file size is very small (<100KB). It may ‘look’ small in the body of your email, but in fact it may be extremely large and simply shrunk down. To reduce the size, use Photoshop or other image editing software (most computers have at least basic image editors included), and reduce the size of the picture and save it as a new file. In your email, if written to an individual (not to a list), include a line or two at the top with more context on your story. For example, you may wish to write, “Increasing the awareness of the link between junk food and youth obesity.” Final Advice We’d like to offer some final bits of advice on creating and delivering amazing press releases. The first key to the success of public relations efforts you make on behalf of your company is persistence. As mentioned above, your odds of success are very low in terms of getting a press release picked up and turned into a story. Those odds, however, go up significantly if you send 5 press releases during the first year of your business rather than just 1. There is no reason a press release can’t be sent to multiple news outlets so when you have a good one, send it to every media outlet you feel it fits. It is best to tailor press releases to the individual media outlet. The New York Times, for example, requires a higher level of sophistication, for example, than a fashion magazine. If your news release is similar to Patagonia’s release of their Synchilla fleece mentioned above, for example, the New York Times will likely be far more impressed by how you did it than by how it looks or where your designer went to school, whereas, that’s exactly the information the fashion magazine might want. Thus, one press release, easily tweaked, quickly becomes 2-4 on any particular newsworthy item.

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Exhibit 2--Sample News Wire for Green Business Publicity

SustainableBusiness.com NewsWire
Want to raise awareness of your company news, conference, book, awards or public information campaign? Post your press release on SustainableBusiness.com JUST $95!!
Our mission is to help green businesses grow, so we're offering you an easy, inexpensive way to reach our visitors and get coverage on Google News, greatly expanding your reach.

Where Your Press Release Will Appear:

Why SustainableBusiness.com? Online since 1996, SustainableBusiness.com is a leading website in our field, with 300,000 visits

on our Home Page, in the and over 700,000 page views a month. Daily News section • on a separate News Releases Your news will quickly reach news media, corporations, investors and the wide variety of page, with RSS syndication professionals interested in green business and • permanently searchable and sustainability. archived on our website • announced in our With daily updated content and an active online SustainableBusiness.com ecommunity, we attract a deep green audience in all newsletter green business sectors: renewable energy, green • available for "sharing," Send to building, green investing, recycling and organics. a Colleague • in Google News, and coded with keywords for other search engines Your press release will go online within minutes of your posting date. Pricing: Press release posted on SustainableBusiness.com: $95 Press release posted ($95) plus Featured Ad on our site: Add $100/week

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Persistence also pays with individual writers. If you send a release to a writer and he or she does not write about it, realize it’s likely because they had something else on their plate that day, or it simply didn’t fit into the editorial guidelines they were currently working under. However, that same writer may pick your story up the next time, especially once they have name recognition of your company after seeing your previous press release. Another major key to the success of your press release in generating publicity for your business is that it is simply interesting and fun. A writer wants readers to see a headline and immediately get drawn into reading the rest of the article. If you can offer them something interesting and fun, you’ve made their work easier and reduced the creativity they need to show in coming up with a story. Since many newspaper writers have to come up with stories every day, their creative energy can sometimes use an external boost, which is why press releases have a chance at success in the first place. Make yours fun and interesting, and you have that chance. In order to make them fun and interesting, we’d suggest you get the basic storyline down on paper, then let it sit for a few hours. Come back to the story with a fresh set of eyes and try to view it as if you were the writer receiving the release. Would you write about it? What would grab your attention? What interesting way can you present the information? Thus, one of our major takeaways we want you to have after using this document is to simply have fun. This is your business. You should love it, and having fun promoting it will not only make your job more enjoyable, it’ll likely also be more effective. And finally, as much as we joke about the ‘circular file’, many journalists, editors, and bloggers have a place they keep really interesting press releases, and it may surprise you how often a writer will follow up with you on a press release you sent 3 months ago, because now the subject is relevant again.

Part 3--External Resources For Green PR
Public Relations Firms--What Do They Do? Public Relations essentially means the management of communication between an entity (e.g., your business) and its stakeholders (e.g., current customers, potential customers, employees, etc.). It is fundamentally different from advertising in that there is no tangible ‘advertisement’--it is simply communications. There is little ‘simple’ about it, however. It is such a potential boon (and bust) for small businesses, that many entrepreneurs choose to hire a Public Relations firm to handle their PR campaign. It is not inexpensive to do so, with many PR firms charging in excess of $100 per hour for even their junior associates. The potential reward, however, is good enough that this may, in fact, be a good option for your business at some point.

How to Find a Good PR Firm for Your Business There are no shortage of PR firms capable of handling the account for your small business. Finding a good one can be a challenge, so before you invest your time, energy and money with a PR firm, consider these principles of selecting the PR firm that is right for your business. Consideration 1--How well do they know your industry? A PR firm that has a successful track record handling accounts in the metalworking industry may fall completely flat if hired by a green carpet cleaning service. Whether a firm has expertise in your industry should be fairly easy to ascertain by looking at their website, reading the company profile, history, and testimonials.
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Consideration 2--How fluent are they in the issues of sustainability? Your business is a sustainable one. Even if you find a PR firm that handles your industry (Consideration 1), if they don’t speak the language of sustainability, how likely are they to really emphasize the value of your company and the brand that it offers? Once again, a cursory look at their website should give you an idea of how good companies are in this regard, and a followup conversation with the principles at the firm should help you determine if they are right for you. Consideration 3--How successful are they? This may seem obvious, but PR firms are in the business of communications, and they can likely tell a great story, regardless of whether they’ve been successful or not, about what they can do for your business. If a PR firm doesn’t have a page on their website specifically dedicated to the clients they serve and the success they’ve achieved in getting those clients into the news, it likely means they haven’t had much! This does not mean that this may not be a good PR firm. Everyone has to start somewhere. However, without a track record of success, a PR firm can’t demand quite the same price as a firm with said track record, so if you are a risk-taker and are considering using a PR firm that is relatively new, you can expect a much lower cost. Consideration 4--How “social media savvy” are they? These days, social media is changing the face of the PR game. Any PR firm that is not keeping up with this growing and fast-changing trend will miss great opportunities to generate viral, word-of-mouth PR for your company through social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and mobile web applications. Consideration 5--What is their metric of success? If a PR company has a track record of getting stories into the media, that’s a good thing, right? Well, yes. But if those stories don’t translate into increased sales of your product, it does you little good as a small business. For a larger company, the increased brand awareness might be enough to justify the cost of a PR firm, but for small businesses with limited budgets, sales are king. If your PR campaign doesn’t increase your sales enough to offset the cost of your PR expenditure, it may not be worthwhile for you to pursue it. It is important, therefore that a PR firm not just get your story out to the media, but also help you tailor your message so that it’s an effective sales platform, and to strategically align those stories with media outlets whose readers are likely to become your customers. When working with a PR firm, be as open with them as you possibly can about your goals, intentions, and needs for your outreach. Pretend they are your company’s therapist. The better they know you, the more likely they will be to get at the heart of the issue, and find ways to solve it. After a good back and forth, a PR firm will typically send you a detailed proposal of what kind of campaign they think will work for you and how much it will cost. This will at least give you a starting point, and you can revise the plan as needed to fit your budget. Green Business Owner maintains a list of trusted consultants. If you would like a referral for a PR firm that would be appropriate for your business, we would be happy to recommend one for you. Contact us with an email to Info@GreenBusinessOwner.com, with the subject line “Trusted Consultant--Public Relations”. In the body of the email, tell us a little about your business, your industry, and your goals for your PR campaign, and we’ll do our best to line you up with a great PR company.

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Appendix 1--Glossary of Terms
Devil’s Advocate--An expression that is used to describe a person who takes the opposite viewpoint from someone else, just for argument’s sake. Having a ‘devil’s advocate’ try to counter your arguments about why your press release is newsworthy is a great way to test whether what you’re saying is actually newsworthy, and whether journalists and readers alike will be interested in it. News Wire (a.k.a.: Wire Service, News Agency, News Service)--These organizations serve to provide news feeds directly to journalists and media organizations. These days, many of these simply accept press releases for a fee and redirect them through their channel of media organizations and online subscribers. You may submit a press release to these organizations for your business, and be assured that it will be sent out to a lot of potential writers. Whether any of them pick up the story is more dependent on the subject matter and the quality of your press release. Public Relations--The management of the flow of information between an organization and its stakeholders. Social Media--A term used to describe the growing phenomenon of media generated by and for many people. As opposed to traditional media that is a unidirectional flow of information (e.g., a newspaper that is read by many people), social media is created by many people writing, commenting, editing, and reposting information. Primary examples of social media are Yelp, Facebook and Twitter, though the field is growing exponentially.

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