January 10, 2013

By Ed Avis

            Writing an effective press release is a great way to help introduce a new product, whether it’s a healthy new tortilla or a tamale machine. And writing a good press release is not hard!

            I’ve been involved in news media, on both sides of the desk, for nearly a quarter century. Literally thousands of press releases about new products have crossed my desk.

            Here are my five top tips for creating a press release that has a good chance of  generating publicity for the product or service you’re selling. Keep in mind that the product doesn’t always have to be new. For example, el Restaurante Mexicano editor Kathleen Furore will include product information if she hasn’t written about the item and wants to introduce it to the magazine’s readers.

Tip #1: Start off with all the basics, and maybe that’s all you need. A good press release tells an editor these things: What the new product is, including its brand name and model number; who the manufacturer or supplier is; what makes the product special, different, or better; how readers can buy the product; and when it will be available. Often if you have just those details, you’ve got enough.

Tip #2: Don’t exaggerate. Tell the reporters what your product’s benefits are in quantifiable terms – numbers, percentages, dollar amounts, output quantity, etc. – rather than in superlatives. If your new tamale maker cranks out 10 percent more tamales per hour, please don’t say that it will revolutionize the Mexican restaurant market!

Tip #3: Add a quote or two, but don’t make the quotes too “salesy.” Following is a useless quote that will never get used: “Our new tortilla chips are the best in the world, and everyone on the planet loves them.” Instead, try: “Our new tortilla chips are made with an improved frying process that creates a better crunch and flavor than other methods.” Also clearly identify the name and title of the person the quote should be attributed to.

Tip #4: Make it easy for the reporter to contact you. I have been amazed recently by the number of press releases that don’t include good contact information. Please list the name, phone number, and email of a person who can knowledgably comment about your product. Small companies sometimes list the president as the contact, and that’s great if the president really wants to handle those calls or emails. But please don’t list the president if he’s going to ignore media calls! On the other hand, make sure the person you list really knows something about your products or has ready access to that information.

Tip #5: Email your press release to the editors you think will be interested. For a Mexican restaurant product, send one to me (edavis@restmex.com) and to Kathy Furore (kfurore@restmex.com). If your product sells to other types of restaurants, go to the websites of all the restaurant trade magazines that you are aware of and send releases to them, too. I will be glad to help you identify appropriate magazines if you don’t know – just shoot me an email about your product.

Tip #6: Make your press release available on your website. Sometimes editors researching a topic will go to your site to learn about your products, and having a press release easily accessible there will increase the likelihood that your product will be included.

I hope these tips help, and let me conclude with an offer to help. I would be glad to read a rough draft of any press release you write and edit it for you, just as a courtesy. Please don’t hesitate to ask!

Ed Avis is the publisher of el Restaurante Mexicano. He has written for or edited dozens of publications in foodservice and other fields over the past 25 years. Reach him at edavis@restmex.com, 708-218-7755.

January 10, 2013