How to write a press release for your design services

by Shaun Crowley

If you have an interesting story to tell, a press release will help you to make newspaper editors aware of it. Maybe you recently won an award. Maybe you stumbled upon some interesting information in the field you work in. Or maybe your design contributed towards some kind of achievement on behalf of your client. Depending on the scale and content of your story, you can send your press release to marketing websites, marketing magazines, the relevant trade press, the regional press, and even the business section of the national press.

Don't confuse a press release with an advertorial. Advertorials are essentially promotional articles. If you want your press release to be treated seriously, you'll have to sacrifice the temptation to plug the benefits of your service up-front, and instead disguise them with informative content.

Let's assume you have an interesting story to tell. How do you present it in a way that encourages editors to print it?

It helps to think of a press release as a piece of direct mail. To an editor or journalist, that's exactly what it is. Just as you and I receive DM letters selling credit cards every day, editors receive press releases selling news stories every day. Most are trashed, yours needs to stand out.

Luckily, a great deal of research has been done on direct mail, and we will draw upon this research in the following tips.

Remember that headline is king.
If the headline doesn't arouse curiosity, the editor won't be convinced readers will find the story interesting. That's why the headline should do one thing and one thing only—get an editor interested.

So what kind of press release headlines will get you exposure as a freelance designer? Here are some suggestions to get you thinking:

How a mouse can make you look 10 years younger.
A release in a fashion magazine about the work of a Photoshop specialist who touches up photo-portraits.

Color purple gets people spending.
A release in an advertising magazine about how purple advertisements are the most effective at driving sales.

Company makes $500,000 by opening doors six inches wider.
A release in a marketing magazine, about how a photographer advised her door manufacturing client to re-shoot the company catalog. Photos of closed doors were changed to doors that were slightly ajara—decision which resulted in extra sales.

How to hire a full-service marketing agency for just ten bucks.
A release about a new breed of freelance copywriter/designers, featuring a freelance designer who has recently integrated copywriting into her serviceand is introducing the service to new clients for ten dollars per page.

Follow the AIDCA rule.
When structuring the copy of your press release, a good place to start is to follow the standard "AIDCA" rule, which states that a piece of direct mail should do five things:

- Gain Attention
- Create Interest
- Engender Desire
- Foster Conviction
- Ask for Action

How can you translate this into a press release?

Gain attention
The first thing to do is to attract the editor's attention. Do this with a good headline.

Color purple gets people spending

Create interest
To maintain the initial attraction, you must interest an editor in the body copy of a story. This is the job of the first paragraph (which should summarize the whole story).


Color purple gets people spending
Recent testing at a New York design agency shows that purple marketing collateral is more effective at driving sales than any other color. According to JonWooCreative, purple is 12% more likely to result in customer enquiries than blue, 15% more likely than red, and 23% more likely than green.


Engender desire
If you've got it right so far, the editor will have a 'desire' to read onto progress to the body copy. This is the meat of the release.

Your body copy text must be appropriate, well written and topical to maintain the desire to get to the end of the story. Ask yourself, if you were reading this as a news story, would you feel committed to read it? Are there enough facts there to satisfy your desire for information? And is that information appropriate?


(... Color purple gets people spending, continued)

Yesterday Hilden Inc, a company that makes mail-order women's shoes, reported that $45,000 of January's profits could be directly attributed to the new color of their latest advertisements.

"We've never seen such a huge response rate" says Mike Chern, CEO of Hilden. "Yet the only thing we changed was the color of our ads."

According to experts, colors initiate archetypal emotions
Jill Shank, a Jungian psychologist specializing in market research, interprets purple as being a warm, welcoming color that appeals directly to women. "Purple has a feminine power that women buy into. It's a deep, sensual color, and certainly a color advertisers should use for products that activate the archetypes governing a woman's sexuality."

But according to designer Jon Woo, purple has a very distinct subconscious meaning for men as well as women. "Marketers should use purple in their publicity if they're looking to present their brand as authoritative, or their product as well-made and refined. Purple bestows quality. We've found that our clients have reported more sales when we've used purple than any other".


Foster Conviction
As a story unfolds it must be believable and supported by facts and figures, case histories, testimonials, or quotes from industry figures.

It shouldn't be puffy, self-congratulatory, or a thinly disguised advertising plug.


(... Color purple gets people spending, continued)

When it comes to marketing, purple sells.
JonWoo Creative, the design company who claim the mind-bending effects of purple, conducted an experiment on three separate campaigns. For each campaign, they tried five different background colors; purple, gold, blue, red, and green. Then they tested the effectiveness of the campaigns by monitoring enquiry rates.

"There was a tremendous consistency in the results across the three campaigns. In all cases, purple came out around 5% more effective at achieving sales enquiries than gold, 10% more effective than blue, 15% more effective than red, and 20% more effective than green.

"We took these results to Hilden, who were interested in our research." They decided to change their batch of advertisements and revert to a purple background color instead of their previous red."

A month after running the new advertisements, Hilden announced a $45,000 increase in sales from the average January budget.

Ask for action
If the editor is interested in the release, he/she may wish to contact you for further information.

Make sure a contact name is included with a phone number and email address for immediate follow-up. And don't go on vacation immediately after sending your releasethe editor may phone you for comment and clarification.