There are lots of different reasons you may need to write a press release for your dance studio. It’s a great way to let local media know about a big up-and-coming performance, if your studio won an award or if your students are performing at a national competition. If you know how to write a compelling press release, you can get publicity for your studio and build company awareness. Use these tips for writing press releases to hone your skills and get a little bit of free advertising.
1. Research Proper Formatting
First thing’s first. If you’ve never written a formal press release before, get yourself a template. There are lots of rules and guidelines for these documents, and you’re hurting your chances of getting published if you deviate too much. Do your research! Here are a few common formatting errors to watch for:
- Use third person only. Don’t use “I,” “my,” “we” or “you.”
- Keep it to one page. No exceptions.
- Explain who, what, when, where and why in the first paragraph.
- Include your contact information at the top and bottom of the page.
- Use standard document formatting. Stick to Times New Roman, 12-point font and double spacing.
- If you’re sending this to a regional publication, include a dateline.
There are also guidelines for content organization, so stick to a standard format. During your research period, reach out to the media outlets you’re targeting and ask if they have any formatting preferences or specific contacts. This shows that you’re being considerate of their time and will give you a leg up. If you’re not sure where to send your press release, start by reading a local paper. See if they run articles on businesses or human interest pieces, as those are in line with the content you’re offering. You should also look at other local publications that target families, like parenting magazines, organization newsletters, community calendars and popular blogs. Don’t be afraid to reach out to different media outlets and ask if they’d be interested in receiving your news. An article about dance might be just the change of pace they’re looking for.
2. Try to Be Objective
It’s easy to get carried away with promotional language, but press releases are supposed to be informational. You should be writing about something that the general public would be interested in knowing, whether it’s the details of an event of the specifics of an award. Stay away from self-promotion. That means limiting adjectives like “great,” “wonderful,” “can’t miss” and the like. Stick to the facts and keep your release short and sweet.
3. Be Vigilant About Spelling and Grammar
Hopefully it goes without saying, but you should be double- and triple-checking your work. A sloppy press release won’t get published, no matter how compelling the content. Journalists have too much on their plates to take the time to edit your work for grammar and spelling. As soon as they see two or three errors, your document is probably headed to the circular file. Take your time when writing, and proofread often. You would probably benefit from having an extra pair of eyes look over the final product as well.
4. Include the Right Photo
Press releases don’t require a photo, but if you have one, go ahead and include it. When choosing a photo, make sure it’s fitting and formatted appropriately for the publication. Stick to .jpeg images and provide the highest quality you have. The Guardian offered tips for writing press releases, and explained that most publications prefer images that are over 500 kilobites and at least 300 dots per inch. You should also make sure the image fits with the content. If you’re writing about an award your student won, don’t choose a group shot from the last recital. You’re better off with a headshot or action shot of that particular dancer. Finally, always include images as an attachment. If you embed pictures in a document or PDF, you’re creating more work for the journalist and hurting your chances of publication.
5. Write an Awesome Subject
Once your document is flawless and your image is securely attached, the last step is to write an email subject to shame all others. The subject of your email will determine whether it gets opened or sent to the trash, so it needs to be good. It should be accurate, concise and engaging. You want to entice your reader without making any false claims of grandeur. Also, forego using the words “Press Release” in the subject – if you do a good job, this should be obvious. A mediocre subject line might read, “X Studio will host its 25th annual charity recital.” You want to jazz it up without going overboard. A better option might be, “Young dancers from X studio plan performance for local charity.” This adds a little more interest to the title because, in the mind of a journalist, it has the makings of a great human interest piece.
6. Follow Up
Once your press release is sent, wait a couple days, then follow up with the news station to confirm they received it. Thank the journalist for his or her time and ask if there’s anything else you can provide. If your email slipped the journalist’s mind, this is a polite way to remind him or her and boosts your chances of publication. Send a thank-you email or card to any organizations that run your story. Being polite and grateful will help you to build media relationships that will make the press release process easier in the future.