Articles for Retailers - Kizer and Bender

The Power of PR

by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender

You oughta be in pictures. And on TV. And on the radio. In fact, your store is so cool it ought to be everywhere, and so should you. There’s an inexpensive way to get there if you’re willing to put in the time; it’s called PR – public relations.

PR isn’t advertising: you pay for advertising; PR is free. You can say whatever you like in an ad campaign because you have total control how your ads look and read. You even choose when your ad will run and which publications/channels/stations it will run.

Publicity is just the opposite: You send out a press release and hope that it catches someone’s eye. You put your best foot forward, painting your store or event in the best light, but you still won’t have control over what the medias will say, how they’ll say it, if they choose to run it at all. But when they do, that little press release equals instant credibility. Your press release needs to stand out, to do that you need to follow very specific rules:

  • Use your own letterhead.  Your contact information goes at the top; be sure to include all contact information: your name, address, telephone number, cell phone number, email, web site URL, and social media links and handles.
  • Add the words “PRESS RELEASE” or “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” in capital letters, across the top of the document. “PRESS RELEASE” usually means a future event; “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” means the medias need to act fast.
  • Write a killer headline in 10 words or less. Remember, it’s going to someone who will likely be going through a pile of press releases – yours needs to stand out. Your headline needs to summarize the entire press release; it should also include keywords that will help search engine optimization when it’s posted online.
  • The first paragraph must contain virtually the entire story. Lead with a great first sentence, followed by a first paragraph that includes as much information as possible; details can come later on in the press release. The first paragraph is the hook that gets the reader interested in your story – put these five important words to work: Who, What, Where, Why, and How.
  • Write the body of your press release using an “inverted pyramid”, meaning the most important info is located at the top, and things that are less important go toward the bottom. This strategy dictates that most important information comes first. It also helps the editor adjust the story to fit the space available without losing essential information.
  • Be enthusiastic but don’t go crazy – medias can smell hype a mile away. Read it out loud to make sure it doesn’t sound like an ad.
  • Add a quote or two – and don’t be afraid to quote yourself! If it’s a press release about your store, designs, or product, you should be a significant part of the story.
  • Use a basic, easy to read type font such as Times New Roman or Ariel.
  • Double-space. Editors need space to make notes and a double-spaced document allows them to easily make notes in-between the lines.
  • If you send your press release via email, include it in the body of the message. This allows the editor to easily cut and paste information from your press release into his/her article. Do not send it as an attachment; editors are just as leery of opening documents from people they don’t know as you are.
  • Use the last paragraph to add any other information about your store, such as awards you may have won and how long you have been in business. Your name and contact information should be repeated in your closing paragraph. If your story has a shelf life, add “Please run before” and “Don’t run after” dates. This helps ensure that your story will be run on time
  • End every press release with # # # centered at the bottom of the page. This indicates the end of the document.
  • If medias are hungry for news, they’re starving for photographs. Always, always, always include a photograph. If you are sending a press release to a blogger or other online publication consider including a video as well.
  • Put together a list of local media contacts. An on-line search of area publications, plus television and radio stations will help you compile a list of names and contact information. Press releases that are sent to a specific person are more likely to get noticed. Send it to local and industry bloggers who may be interested in sharing your story as well.
  • Don’t wait until the last moment to send your press release; you need to give the media time to react. Traditionally, early morning is the best time to reach publications, late morning and early afternoon is preferred by television and radio stations.
  • There are many ways to get your press release to the medias: U.S. Mail, fax, e-mail, and online posts. It’s also a good idea to create a “News” tab on your website, and share the link on Twitter, Facebook and the other social medias you use.

These days of 24/7 communications, anything can become big news, so look for PR opportunities everywhere. Keep your cell phone camera ready and take photos at in-store events and classes. Take a photo of yourself at NAMTA and the other trade shows you attend. Ask for a photo (and a quote) with famous artists, bloggers, and publishers – anyone of industry interest.

Commit to doing a press release at least once a month, and you’ll become known as the creative “go to” expert in your community for all things retail!

Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender are professional speakers, retail strategists, authors and consultants whose client list reads like a “Who’s Who” in business. Companies internationally depend upon them for timely advice on consumers and the changing retail market place. KIZER & BENDER’s observations are widely featured in national newspapers, national and international industry and consumer publications, and on radio and television programs across the U.S. You can learn more at