As the name would suggest, the original purpose of a press release was to get attention from the press. But times have changed. Today you can leverage the power of your small business press release to reach your customers directly whether press – and that includes bloggers — pick up the announcement or not. When used properly and with the right keywords for your industry to get high placement in search engines, press releases can be a very effective part of your online marketing effort to drive traffic to your site.

Press releases can cover a range of topics about your company.  A new product or service will be of interest to customers and prospects and to press who cover your market. Write a press release to announce a new employee, a change of location or a partnership. You also can use a release to share industry knowledge or trends, such as the results of a customer survey.

Your release should follow standard industry format, which includes a compelling headline and a subhead that provides insight into the nature of your news. Keep the body of the release to three or four paragraphs, with the most important news in the lead paragraph. Each subsequent paragraph should add more details to your news in order of importance to the story.

Here are other tips to keep in mind about developing your small business press release:

Quotes:  Try to include a quote from you or another senior member of your team. It’s your opportunity to provide perspective and position your announcement.

Keywords: You can use free tools like Google adwords to find relevant and highly searched industry terms. Use keywords in your headline and subhead and ‘appropriately’ throughout the body of your release. Opinions vary, but after using keywords in your lead, aim to use them about once per every 100 words. The goal is to incorporate keywords without affecting the readability of your release.

Links: Include links in your release to drive traffic back to your site. If you are talking about a new product, link the text back to a page on your site that has information.

Submission: You can begin by submitting your release to your local newspaper. Newspapers generally indicate on their site how to submit a release. Also there are free press release distribution sites such as, which will distribute your release to search engines for no charge as well as to Google and Yahoo news sites. Other sites such as PRWeb can provide distribution to search engines and news sites and will host your release on its site for a reasonable fee. Check out the range of press release distribution services.

If you don’t have the time or feel you don’t have the talent to write your own release, there are many public relations firms and independent consultants that can help. In addition to writing the release, they can work with  you to identify press release opportunities that you may be overlooking.