A pressing matter: how to effectively use press releases

What is the best marketing and advertising plan for the least amount of time, effort, and capital? That is what pizza operators all over the country are wondering.

The most effective form of marketing or advertising for your pizza shop for the least amount of money may be to use a press release. If you follow the information in this article to create a press release, you may get a free write-up about your restaurant in your local newspaper or even get a clip on the local news broadcast. Press releases can turn into free advertising because you don't have to pay to run an ad. Having a write-up in the paper or story on the news gives your establishment more credibility than an ad because it is publicity the news organization volunteers to publish or air and it gets your name into the public's eye and ear.

What is a "Press Release"?

A press release ideally should be a one-page document that contains a brief write-up about your restaurant. Almost every news article you read or watch on television starts with the editors or news directors reading a press release and assigning the article to a reporter. It is very seldom that they just stumble across a newsworthy story. When sent to the editor of a newspaper and successfully published, it will appear as a short article and looks like the newspaper wrote it. To increase the chance of the story being "picked up", it is also important to get the name of the Food Editor or Community Events Editor and send it to their attention so that it gets to the right person.

The press release is the starting point for every public relations (PR) campaign or attempt at gaining exposure. A well-prepared, well-written press release can generate hundreds of new customers and thousands of new dollars for the cost of a few sheets of paper and postage.

You can introduce new products, new menu items or any newsworthy items that might be interesting to the public. Some other newsworthy items are upcoming specials, big events that have occurred, sponsorship of teams, anniversaries, pizza eating contests, charity events or any other community-related event. This free publicity is yours for the asking. It takes very little effort. As a matter of fact, you can send them out via email or fax with even less cost to you or be creative and send a press release inside a pizza box at lunch.

Press releases are written in brief, newspaper style of writing, commonly referred to as the 'inverted pyramid' style. The 'inverted pyramid' style simply means the items of most importance are listed first and those of least importance are listed last. This is so the editors can easily 'cut' the story down if news space is limited. Immediately open by telling what the newsworthy item is. Continue with the facts and then go on with a description. Releases contain hard factual or descriptive information about your establishment without much fluff, but you can sneak in a few benefits. It is not an ad; it is a news brief that compliments your restaurant. Press releases are a great way to begin the process of a new restaurant opening. This will inform the community of when you will open, where you are located and what the concept of the restaurant will be.

How To Write A "Press Release"

Header: The header contains information about the release including the date, contact person with phone number, company name and address.

Above the header, across the top of the page use the words "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE." Also, add in to the header "NO KILL DATE." This allows the editor to save it for future use if they need to fill editorial space.

Writing the headline: Write a brief, catchy headline describing your operation. This is the first, and sometimes last, impression to the reader. A good header tells the story. "Gino's Pizza Is So Large, You Can Invite Your Neighbors Over." Dakota Pizza guarantees "Same Day Delivery or Your Money Back." The headline is very important in grabbing the editor's attention.

Body: Copy ad benefits. Your press release should be benefit-rich because in direct marketing, what goes in the paper are the benefits. Remember, the readers only buy products to gain benefits.

Closing: At the end of the release put "-END-" or if you went to an additional page, at the bottom place "-MORE-" to let the reader know there is additional information.

After you read this article, if you feel that you can't write a quality press release yourself, seek help. There are always writers on staff at newspapers who will write a press release for you at a reasonable rate. Most writers at small papers are always looking for additional assignments.

The last part of the campaign: Press releases are limited only by your imagination. Editors strive to give readers a nice mix of products and services. If you send them a one-page press release with a photo and it is picked up, you will increase sales and publicity for the least possible cost. Please remember to clearly label the photo with the names of people, where it was taken or what the picture is illustrating. Taping a piece of paper to the back of the photo so that it extends beneath the photo can do this.

PMQ

Top This! Pizza National Marketing Program rises to the next level

After the spring 2002 issue of PMQ, the national marketing idea began to receive feedback from operators around the country. Emails and phones calls came in with very positive and enthusiastic comments. Spencer Newton of Armand's Pizza in Washington, D.C. said, "Independent pizza operators are really giving the public a homemade product, this is not processed food like burgers and chicken." Newton commented that, "The ten Armand's Pizza operations would be glad to participate in the national program. Can anyone top that?" Steve from Bungos Pizza in Cleveland, Tennessee, said, "I think the national program is a great idea. We are all for it, tell me what to do next." Joe Evangelist from Valley Pizza in Walnutport, Pennsylvania, said, "This is the greatest idea yet. As a matter of fact, I want to put it on my website and menu right away. The pizza business is the greatest business in the world." Steve B. from Dakota Pizza in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, emailed, "Put Down Your Burger and Top This! We need a marketing gimmick that will get people inspired to buy more pizza and more often. I am in favor of a new spin on pizza."

The Pizza Foundation, a new industry sevice organization founded by Michael Cohen, will begin to move forward to establish a committee of industry leaders to develop a program to raise money for a creative, fun and challenging marketing campaign. We will move forward to raise corporate and individual money. We hope to launch the program early in 2003.

Any industry professional or pizza operator who wants to participate to launch this memorable and persuasive campaign to bring pizza to the top is encouraged to call 800-784-4883 or email pizzafoundation@mskj.com.

Otherwise click on www.thepizzafoundation.com and register your name to become part of our mailing list to stay informed of our programs and to participate in the logo design. Comments and suggestions are always welcome. For those who missed the article on this national pizza marketing campaign, go to www.pmq.com/mag/2002spring/michael_cohen.php and read "Pizza Marketing: The Ultimate Warfare".