By Davis Pratt, PMI Public Relations Specialist
Public relations is all about engaging with the people in your community to build positive relationships and create a fanbase for your business. With strong beneficial interaction, even with people who may not be currently interested in the services or products you provide, you can raise awareness of your business and establish yourself as an expert. A track record of audience engagement and greater community awareness helps generate leads, which for property managers not only means property owners with property they’d like managed but also tenants to reside in your properties and real estate investors who will help you expand your management portfolio. Press releases, official statements issued to news agencies, are a great way to engage your community and raise awareness about your business. Appearing in news articles online or in a newspaper will help your business draw the interest of potential clients or partners who might not have noticed you any other way.
What’s Newsworthy: Planning Your Press Release
The very first task for anyone writing a press release is deciding what news to report. One thing I’ve learned writing press releases in the property management industry is that if you are actively engaged in running a property management business, you already have stories you can write about. Ask yourself how you interact with your community, and what types of things you’d like to tell people about your business. Here are a few examples of the kinds of stories property managers write press releases on.
- Opening a new office for your property management business or partnering with another property management business by joining a franchise or network.
- Providing new services or programs, like if you begin offering management for short-term rentals for example.
- Announce growth and expansion, like the acquisition of a new portfolio,
- Partnerships with a new vendor or service provider, make sure you tell readers how this partnership will benefit all parties, including them
- Community outreach, any charity work, service, or sponsorship you conduct in your community
- Awards or other recognition you’ve received, like if a relevant publication or industry professional can be quoted as holding you in high regard, or you are otherwise featured in the news
- Crossing major business milestones
- Events like training expos or galas, you can highlight the results of successful events you have held or attended, or announce upcoming plans
- Deals, offers, and promotions
Press releases are short, so I recommend picking one major topic for each release, and then writing the whole release based upon the way that news is important and relevant to your readers. Before writing my next release, I like to ask myself what the news angle is. Are we highlighting growth and expansion, a new service for our franchisees, or an award we’ve received from a business publication? This news angle will inform how I write my release and what info is saved for a later release, or a blog like this one.
Organizing the News: How to Outline Your Press Release
Though there is certainly an art to writing a good press release, press releases are not an especially artistic medium themselves. Instead, they’re designed to present the news and clearly and succinctly as possible, so reporters can use them as a convenient source when writing their articles. To make sure you can give reporters and readers a release that’s both professional and easy to understand, we’re going to outline how you should organize your press release from beginning to end in nine easy steps.
1. For Immediate Release
At the top of your press release, write “For Immediate Release” in bold. If you want your press release to be held for publication at a later date, write that instead.
The headline is your chance to hook your reader’s attention and convince them to read further, but that doesn’t mean headlines are a place for wild claims or sensationalism. Instead, a headline should be a short, informative description of the news you’re highlighting or announcing that is easy to understand and dynamic enough to excite readers and get them interested in reading more.
- Deluxe ACME Property Management Opens New Salt Lake City office to Serve Salt Lake County Area
- Entrepreneurial Weekly Ranks Deluxe ACME Property Management as a Top Local Business
- Deluxe ACME Property Management Doubles Portfolio With New Townhome Acquisitions
Sometimes it can be easier to wait until you finish the rest of the release to finish writing your headline so that you pick the best way to hook audiences on the news within. Think of your headline as an opportunity to put your best foot forward, so make sure and give it the attention it deserves.
Following the headline, you’ll want to put a dateline at the beginning of the next paragraph. The dateline starts with the name of your city, all in caps, and then an abbreviation of your state (if you live in the United States or country if you do not). Here is a list of the proper state abbreviations to use. Following that, write the date of the press release’s publication in the order of month, day, and year. Here are some examples of datelines:
DENVER, Colo., July 20, 2018
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, July 20, 2018
SAN DIEGO, Calif., July 20, 2018
4. First Paragraph
The first paragraph of a press release should strive to answer the most essential questions a reader will have after the headline. State the who, what, when, where, and why of the headline, preferably in that order. Clearly and concisely describe what the news is. For example, if your business won an award, you would want to detail who gave what award to who, when and where this took place, and why the award was earned.
Also, for clarity, we recommend writing your press release in a double-spaced, simple and legible 12-point font, like Arial or Times New Roman. To streamline and conserve space the text of the press release should be written in American Psychological Association (APA) style, a style that uses state abbreviations and minimalistic punctuation (no Oxford commas) to be as efficient as possible. The Purdue OWL is a useful source for details on APA.
5. Body Text
The rest of the body of the press release will expand on the first paragraph and headline and add more details. People respond to narrative, so tell your readers a story. For example, what is the relevant history of your business and of the award? How will this change your business going forward? The body text is a good opportunity to incorporate a specific quote from a relevant party, like a passage from the official description of the award, a response from someone in a leadership position in your business, or both. Tangible details are great; specific numbers speak louder than generalities.
Most press releases are 3-5 paragraphs long and last 200-500 words. Some news stories take longer to describe and support than others, but this is a safe range to keep your press release punchy and to the point.
6. Call to action
Close your press release with a call to action, something else the reader can do to join the conversation. An easy basic option is to let the reader know who they can contact or what website they can visit to learn more. You can also make this part of your boilerplate, which brings us to:
The boilerplate is an informational paragraph you’ll want to put at the end of each your press releases. The boilerplate is designed to give readers a little more background information about your business. Write “About [your business]” as a heading and then use the paragraph to quickly state the services you provide, your company’s mission statement, and any other relevant information you’d like to share, like awards you’ve won or how assets you have.
While you can change your boilerplate from release to release, most businesses rarely alter their boilerplate, using the same message to add a stamp of basic information they want to make sure people have to their press releases.
8. End with ###
Write “###” at the end of your press release after the boilerplate to signal the end of the content you want to be published.
9. Media contact
The media contact information is for anyone receiving the release who wants to get in touch with you for further information. Here you’ll write your business’s or your own contact information, such as name, email address, or phone number, depending on who you’d like reporters to speak with.
We’ve included two press release templates you can use as a visual aid for how to structure your release, one about the grand opening of a new office, and the second about a credit reporting service.
Visual Flair: Photos for your Property Management Press Release
Posting photos along with your press release, especially if you’re uploading your release online, can help your message make even more of a splash. Not only does a good photo draw your audience’s attention and make them more likely to check out the rest of the release, but photos increase the release’s SEO ranking online, making it more likely to reach your audience in the first place.
Putting together a photograph for your press release may be daunting if you haven’t done anything like it before, but the right resources are available online to make it a cheap and easy process.
Using a new and relevant photograph is great, like a professional picture of your new office to announce an opening or a photo of owner shaking hands with a representative of a new vendor you’ve decided to partner with, but sometimes pictures like this aren’t available. Fortunately, there are many databases of creative commons images that are free to download and use in your marketing available online at websites like Pexels, Unsplash, and Pixabay. Even if you’re using a creative commons photo, you’ll want to pick something that fits well with your press release, an image of a home when discussing a change in the housing market, a handyman with a tool belt when announcing a relationship with a new maintenance vendor, or the corresponding city skyline if you’re expanding into, say, Boston. If you have a difficult time finding a free photo you’d like to use, many more stock photos are also available for purchase on websites like Shutterstock and 123RF.
You don’t need to use these photos as is. Instead, you can personalize them, cropping the edges and adding text or your logo. There are free photo editing programs available online like GIMP, Paint.Net, and Fotor that you can download and begin using today, each with their own manuals and tutorials to help you get started learning how to edit photos the way you want.
Putting Your Press Release Out into the World: How to Publish
Once you have a press release you’re satisfied with, it’s time to put it out into the world. Email blasting your press release in every direction is tempting, but you’ll be more effective, especially with a smaller property management business, if you target specific local journalists, newspapers, publications, and web pages that publish just the kind of story your press release is about. Make sure to follow submission guidelines to the letter and give a few weeks’ notice for time-specific releases.
You can also use free press release portals that publish your articles online, increasing your exposure and making it more likely journalists will come across your release. Many paid press release portals like PR Newswire and Business Wire will also host your release and will send it out to a distribution list of leading-edge news providers for a fee. For property management businesses that only cater to property owners in a specific area and, thus, only have new stories relevant to readers in that area, this kind of paid distribution may not be worth pursuing. But it’s worth considering for businesses that are widening their scope or growing to compete nationally or globally.
Whether you send your press release to local journalists, major news websites, both, or even neither, you should definitely upload your press release on your website, like you would a blog article, and share it on all your social media. Sharing your release on social media will help keep your audience informed and bring attention back to your website and your business, which is really the point of press releases in general. Press releases are a way to spread awareness of how your business engages with the world through stories, so you can connect with more people to serve.