Press Releases for Inspectors
by Nick Gromicko and Kate Tarasenko
Inspectors should use the format of the standard press release to make announcements on their websites and inspector 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 inspector's business.
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 association chapter, with the sender of the press release as its head or spokesperson;
- the inspector's having earned new training accreditations and/or licenses;
- offering new types of inspection services;
- the business' relocation;
- the business' expansion;
- a change in the business' name or contact information; and
- the inspector joining industry-related associations.
Here's a sample press release:
CONTACT: John Smith, President
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BOULDER, Colo. (June 22, 2012)--ABC Inspections is pleased to announce that it is now offering Home Energy Inspections. With support from InterNACHI, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, and the U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency, these inspections will enable homeowners to receive a specific home energy score that will become the basis for their home improvements and upgrades that will save them money on their home energy costs.
Homeowners wishing to have their homes assessed may contact ABC Inspections to schedule their Home Energy Inspection at 720-555-1212 or by visiting their website at www.abc-inspections.com. A Home Energy Inspection can be conducted in the course of a general home inspection for home sellers and home buyers, and is also offered as part of an annual home maintenance inspection.
ABC Inspections has been providing home inspections in the Boulder County area for the past 20 years. Their staff is fully trained and accredited, and their inspectors are proud members in good standing of InterNACHI.
Note the various elements and conventions in the sample press release, from top to bottom, which should be included in all press releases:
- 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 staff 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, so it's unnecessary to include them in the 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 JULY 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 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 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.
- 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 when the end of the press release actually is.
- The italicized information below the hash marks identifies the person/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 inspection industry at large.
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 who can help indirectly market your business and services.