A press release is one of the most powerful marketing tools out there, and it’s free!  It takes at least 5 (possibly up to 18) impressions with your brand before consumers really start to identify with your product and take the initiative to contact you.  Traditional advertising, as in purchasing an ad in the paper or in magazines, is generally not the best use of marketing dollars for most photography businesses.  Yes, you are creating brand awareness by getting your business in front of large numbers of people, but most businesses see very little return for that very costly marketing investment.  Isn’t it better to get that kind of exposure for free?  Not only that, but consumers will automatically trust your brand more because the trust that they have in the news organization or magazine will carry over to you!

It’s actually not too difficult to create free publicity for your business.  The first step is to decide what is worthy of a press release.  Journalists and magazines aren’t interested in simple self-promotion and a press release on your business likely won’t get very far.  Did you recently earn your Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) degree? (Side note…a personal goal of mine for 2013 and I’m putting it out there on the internet so that I have more accountability….back to your regularly scheduled programming…)  Are you doing an event for a charity?  Can you give tips for taking better pet photos to a pet column?  Your goal should be to make the journalists’ job easier by providing timely and relevant information.

Step 2 requires deciding which publications to approach.  Rarely will there be a press release that can go to every single publication in your area, often there are a few columns or magazines that would be a better fit then others.  It’s important to be familiar with the types of articles that are regularly published so that you can target your release and have a better chance of seeing your business in print.

Now it’s time to create your press release!  There is a standard format for press releases that can be found here.  I often embed an image into the release as well, create it as a word document and then save it as a pdf.

Once your press release is created, and proofed by someone that you trust so that you don’t have spelling or grammatical errors, (Side note…no one proofs this blog so I apologize for the many grammatical and spelling errors that are bound to occur…) it’s time to submit.  You can find the email addresses of editors of magazines on a page near the front of a magazine.  Newspapers often have reporters and editors email or contact information online.  Deciding whom to contact goes back to your research of learning what types of articles certain columns or magazines often cover.

When you email your contact don’t forget to attach your pdf press release, but I also recommend copying and pasting the text of the release into the body of your email as many journalists and editors will not open attachments from people that they do not know.  Start your email with a few simple sentences introducing yourself and briefly stating what your press release is about.  If I’m not sure if that person is the best fit for my release I may ask them to let me know if there is another person that they recommend I contact with this information.

As you start to make contact with different editors and journalists create a spreadsheet to keep all of their contact details in one place.  This will save you lots of time in the future.

Editors and journalists are busy people and if you don’t hear back from them do NOT call them to ask “Did you receive my email?”.  If they are interested in your pitch they will contact you.  It is ok however if you are promoting an event to send an initial press release 4-6 weeks prior to the event and then follow up with another email of the press release about 2 weeks prior to the event.  Use your common sense and don’t be a pest!

If you would like to learn more about tips and tricks for getting published download the FREE e-book from PhotoMint.  Even though the publication is dedicated to getting your wedding photography published, there are still lots of great tips that can be applied to promoting your pet photography business.  Happy press releasing!

dog walking in the evening sun