Contractors should use the format of the standard press release to make announcements on their websites and contractor blogs. This lends an official quality to any announcements that deserve particular attention or that are time-sensitive. This will help the website visitor distinguish between sales-type information and general news announcements about the contractor’s business.
TIP: Read this article on Websites for Contractors.
Press releases can also be emailed to business contacts to help spread the word, as well as increase essential SEO hits—a huge advantage of having your press releases searchable online. Since they are considered soft marketing, press releases are more likely to be widely distributed by the recipients while having the same impact as paid advertising.
Some good uses of press releases include announcing the following:
- introducing new staff;
- the formation of new partnerships with consulting experts or other industry-related personnel;
- the formation of a new International Association of Professional Contractors chapter, with the sender of the press release as its head or spokesperson;
- the contractor’s having earned new training accreditations and/or licenses;
- offering new types of services;
- the business’ relocation;
- the business’ expansion;
- a change in the business’ name or contact information; and
- the contractor joining industry-related associations, such as the International Association of Professional Contractors.
Here’s a sample press release:
CONTACT: John Smith, President
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BOULDER, Colo. (July 24, 2012)—ABC Contracting is pleased to announce that it is now offering Home Energy Upgrade Consultations. With support from InterNACHI, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, the International Association of Professional Contractors, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, Home Energy Upgrade Consultations are designed for homeowners who have had a Home Energy Inspection conducted and wish to receive a consultation for home improvements that will save them money on their home energy costs.
Homeowners may contact ABC Contracting to schedule their Home Energy Upgrade Consultation at 720-555-1212, or by visiting their website at www.abc-contracting.com.
ABC Contracting has been providing contracting services in the Boulder County area for the past 20 years. Their founder is a member of the International Association of Professional Contractors, and all of their employees abide by a strict Code of Ethics.
Note the various conventions, elements and formatting in the sample press release, from top to bottom, which should be used for all press releases (as they will lend your press release legitimacy and a better chance of being published):
- Your name, title, and contact information (but not mailing address), as well as website address, should be included following the capped and (optionally) bolded word “CONTACT:”. This will enable the staffer who receives your press release an easy way to instantly contact you without having to hunt for your information. The press release doesn’t have to be issued by the company president, however. But the person who can field questions about it (should any arise) should be the one noted as the contact person. (The company’s full name and snail-mail address are already included in your letterhead on which you’ll include your press release, so it’s unnecessary to include them in the line for your contact information.)
- The header of a press release is “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE,” which should be centered and bolded, and optionally italicized. Some organizations send out their press releases before they want them actually released; this gives the recipient extra time to organize multiple press releases from different entities, etc. In this case, the press release should read “EMBARGOED UNTIL AUGUST 1, 2012.” The option of embargoing a press release also allows the writer to make any changes and send a revised press release before the actual release date. An embargoed press release should be sent out only as needed. Typically, most press releases are for immediate publication.
- The city is spelled out using all capital letters.
- The state or province is abbreviated in the style originated by the Associated Press, which is the style guide used by newspapers. Because press releases, as a form, fall somewhere between advertisements and actual news, the AP Style is the adopted convention for press releases.
- The date is enclosed in parentheses. Except for month names that are short (including March, April, May, June and July), they are also abbreviated using AP Style, such as “Jan.,” “Aug.,” Sept.,” and so forth.
- Following the date in parentheses is the em-dash or double-dash, without any spaces between the date and the body of the press release.
- The body of the text follows; it can be more than one paragraph, with the main announcement in the first sentence, followed by additional supporting information. The press release in its entirety should not exceed one page. Make the news timely and focused; save your “kitchen-sink” marketing for other types of mailings.
- The end of the press release is indicated by a triple hash mark that is centered on the page. This is another AP Style convention that indicates to both newspaper editors and radio announcers where the press release actually ends.
- The italicized information below the hash marks identifies the person or organization supplying the press release. This information is straightforward and factual but may have a marketing tone to it.
When emailing your press release to other parties, such as past clients, real estate professionals, and industry associations and organizations, be sure to put your press release on your letterhead and convert it into a PDF, and email that as an attachment, indicating in your email’s subject line that it is a press release, so that its timeliness will be readily understood. This will give your recipients the option of posting the entire document on their own website (which will display your business letterhead), or they can simply copy and paste the text. Your press release should be no longer than one page and should contain no photos, graphics or pictures, except those that may already appear in your company letterhead.
Press releases should be used sparingly so that your company’s legitimate news doesn’t get ignored because you’ve attempted to disguise routine marketing as something newsworthy. Marketing doesn’t rate the same level of attention, especially when you are sending out your press release to third parties.
Some reasons that press releases should not be used include announcing the following:
- special sales or discounts;
- non-business related news, including news of a personal nature;
- endorsements of other businesses, entities or products; or
- news or information (such as a press release, white paper or news article) that is plagiarized from another source and repackaged as your own. Your press release should be specifically relevant to your business, rather than to the construction industry at large.
Tip: Read this article on eNewsletters that Promote Contractors.
Press releases are a great way to announce news affecting your business and to lend legitimacy to its importance. Used with discretion, they are a meaningful way to cultivate your connections with people and organizations that can help indirectly market your business and services.