film crew with a group

This article was originally published in 2016 and updated on December 12, 2022.

Do you have an event, a new product or another newsworthy accomplishment you want to publicize? Getting press in a traditional outlet such as a newspaper or print magazine can be tricky, but don’t be discouraged — below are a few tried and true ways to get your business successes out to the community and get some press for your company.

Earned Media

Earned media occurs when a media outlet such as a newspaper, print magazine, or radio show quotes you, discusses your business, or interviews you. It’s “earned” because you don’t pay for it, unlike advertising.

Of course, because it’s not advertising, gaining earned media is a bit harder to do. But it’s not impossible.

Sign Up for a Service that Helps Journalists Find Sources

One way to begin talking with the media is to become a source for a story that a journalist is already pursuing. To find these opportunities, consider signing up for a service that helps connect journalists with sources such as Help a Reporter Out (HARO). It’s free to sign up and you’ll get a daily email with customized results based on the categories of stories you can help with.

Robyn Spady, the owner of the digital weaving magazine Heddlecraft, has been a successful HARO subscriber for many years. “I have found HARO an effective way to connect with people in the media. It has helped enlighten me about what is on the minds of reporters and this has led to some insight into possible trends in my industry.

More importantly, reading the daily HARO emails has been invaluable in networking with others when I can alert them to an opportunity for them to connect with the media. For example, I passed along a lead to someone that led to him being quoted in a front-page story in the New York Times. The combination of media contacts and networking leads is a powerful combination,” Spady says.

Journalists have a job to do — relaying the news to their readers — and you have news to share. But writers are discriminating and won’t write about everyone who asks. You have to make your case and know what reporters want and need to do their jobs.

One approach is to send a press release or pitch to targeted media outlets. This is the widely accepted way to alert the press that your business has news.

Before you write that press release or pitch, you have to make sure that your news is worthy of the press. Then, you need to be strategic and target specific news outlets that have a vested interest in your business, maybe because of location or because of the type of product you sell.

Evaluating Newsworthiness

So what constitutes news?

Something is considered news when it is timely or connects to what is already happening in the news. It could be controversial or it could be something new or unusual that has never been done before. Something that clearly affects a community is also news. Often, reporters will be interested in covering human interest stories that have a local angle. Keeping these criteria in mind, you can start to compile a press list.

Creating a Press List

A press list is a list of media outlets and journalists you plan to contact about your news.

To help get you started, think about who your best customer is. Can you imagine which newspapers or magazines they read? If you’re not sure, reach out and ask. Your request can be as simple as creating a Facebook or Instagram post, or as refined as a short survey you send at the conclusion of a sale.

Once you have information on your customer’s media habits, you’ll have the start of your press list. Even if you only have one example, it’s easy to extrapolate what other media they may consume. Write down all of the magazines, television shows, news shows, newspapers, and radio shows you think they would read, watch or listen to.

Then, think about whether a particular outlet would be interested in your news, and why. You may adjust your list accordingly, and you may end up creating different lists for different types of news or events.

Your press list should include the name of the outlet and the type of outlet (magazine, news program, etc.), a contact name and an email address, lead times (more on that below), and a place for notes. It’s helpful to organize this information in a spreadsheet.

To find the best contact for a particular outlet, take note of writers or hosts who cover similar topics such as arts and entertainment, community news, or business news. You can find their names by looking at the bylines or segments in question. If you can’t find a contact’s name and email address online, you can call the outlet’s main phone line and ask for the email addresses of reporters who cover your subject area. Sometimes reaching out to a writer directly is more effective than trying to contact the outlet’s general email address.

Note lead times for each publication. Lead times — how much time they need to be able to share your news — will vary depending on the type of media outlet. Print magazines will usually have longer lead times than daily newspapers or news programs — think months instead of weeks or days. Lead times are important to know when you’re sending your press release. Also, note that reporters are often working on deadline.

Artist Elaine Luther says she’s been written up by her local paper a number of times. Luther recommends making yourself available to the media as soon as they reach out.

“Answer your phone and email promptly when the reporter calls and drop everything for them, they have tight deadlines,” she says.

Keep in mind that reporters want news that’s timely. So make sure your news is something upcoming and not something that has already happened. Keep this in mind when you’re sending out your press release as you don’t want to send something after a reporter’s deadline or a publication’s lead time has already passed. Many weekly newspapers, for example, put sections together ahead of time, so the reporters can concentrate on breaking news later in their news cycle. If you send a press release about an event that is happening at the end of the month, you may need to send our press release as early as a month in advance so the reporters can try to squeeze it into their upcoming business or arts and entertainment pages.

Create  a Press Page on Your Website

One press mention can often lead to more. Journalists may see your name and reach out. To make it clear that you’re comfortable and willing to talk to the press, consider creating a press page on your website. Here you can provide basic information about your business including the number of years you’ve been in business, significant accomplishments, and areas of expertise you possess. You can also link to or showcase the press mentions you’ve already received. Include your logo, headshot, and images of your physical space if you have them. And be sure your contact information is easy to find.

Writing a Press Release or Pitch

Now that you have a press list, you can start to focus on writing your pitch and press release. 57% of publishers receive between 50-500 pitches per week so it’s vital that yours doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. Keep it relevant, concise, and easy to access.

Your goal is to showcase your news while providing all the vital information a reporter or writer needs to know.

First, you need to compose your message. Ask yourself if your news affects a particular community. Is your news controversial? How is it new or unusual? Is it timely? Is there an interesting local angle? Use these guidelines to show that your pitch is newsworthy and then craft your pitch message appropriately.

The point of writing a press release is to showcase your news while providing all the vital information a reporter or writer needs to know. It’s important that you write in a clear and concise manner and that you answer the essential “who, what, when, where, why, and how” questions. In doing so, you’ll make it easier for the reporter or host to cover your news.

A press release should be short and sweet. Don’t be overly wordy. Focus on delivering the facts of your news. Don’t make it overly promotional, either. There has to be a compelling story to write, rather than just text that reads like ad copy for your latest product or service.

Press Release Etiquette

Press releases are sent via email these days, so make sure all the links in your release are working. Link your logo to your website. Link your contact email and all your social media accounts. Use our sample press release template to get started. Don’t send your press release as an image. It’s best to include your full release in the body of your email. 

The subject line of your email should read “Press Release — (Subject line of your press release).” Send your release from your brand’s contact email. This makes it easier for reporters to reply to that same email and get more information without having to hunt for a different email address.

Once you send out your release, you can follow up by resending it if a publication’s deadline is approaching and you haven’t heard back. Reporters and editors are busy and receive an overwhelming amount of emails.

If you don’t hear back, don’t worry. Sometimes you’ll still receive coverage even if someone didn’t contact you, and sometimes you won’t. The important thing is to keep trying and when a publication does follow up, make sure you’re gracious and helpful. It’s the start of a valuable relationship you’ll be able to build upon.

Structuring Your Press Release

If you choose to write a press release, you’ll need to structure it in a certain way and make sure to include specific elements. Here’s how it’s formatted:

  • Write your press release on your letterhead. In the upper left corner include the following: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, then the date of the release. Continue by writing your business name, and a link to easily downloadable high-resolution images for use by the media. Then list the name of a contact with your company, the email or phone number for that contact, your business website, and any social media profiles.
  • Centered on the page, write the subject line of your press release. You want the subject to say what the release is about, but be interesting enough that someone would want to read more.
  • If you want to include images in your press release, you can insert them after the subject line. But don’t include more than three, and never attach or insert high-resolution images. You can link to easily downloadable high-resolution images in the contact block, as described above.
  • Start your opening paragraph with FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE or CITY, STATE of where your news is taking place, then continue with your content. The opening paragraph should answer the who, what, when, where, why, and how questions.

In the following paragraphs, expand on your story by including interesting information and quotes. Including a quote helps reporters understand where you stand on the issue and helps position yourself as an expert on your news. A press release shouldn’t be more than a few paragraphs long. Again, think clear and concise. Don’t include extraneous information. A wordy press release is one doomed for the delete key.


  • Start your final paragraph with your business name in bold, then give a brief biography of your business.
  • Finally, list your brand’s contact name with contact email or phone number again. Reporters may want more information or different quotes and it’s important that this person is available to respond quickly to their inquiries. If journalists can’t reach you or your contact, they will move on and you will have lost out on earned media.
  • End your release with ### centered. These number signs inform the press that they’ve reached the end of the release. 
Kelly Rand

Kelly Rand


Kelly is the author of “Handmade to Sell: Hello Craft’s Guide to Owning, Running, and Growing Your Crafty Biz,” published by Potter Craft in 2012. A freelance writer focusing on the intersection between art, craft, making and the environment, Kelly has written for The Crafts Report magazine, Cloth Paper Scissors Studios, the Etsy blog and Bust magazine.

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