Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hidden Uses for Press Releases

When you think of press releases, you usually envision an announcement. I'll bet you think of using them to promote your work, not reading them for information. But press releases are rich in potential for a freelancer's career.

A friend of mine, and FundsforWriters reader, uses press releases for her freelance career. Joyce Laird has been a freelancer since 1984. Yes, it's her fulltime job. Google her and you don't find much in terms of a blog or website. She doesn't have to self-promote since she has more work than she can say grace over. She also writes for the craziest magazines I've ever seen, in addition to her copywriting endeavors. And she digs up many of her topics from press releases.

How does she get them? Press releases can be found at:

PR Newswire
Free Press Release
Online PR News
and more.

Since you are reading them now instead of submitting them to self-promote, you see them from a different angle. How to use press releases for your writing:

1. Profiles
Find notable people to interview . . . on any topic. It doesn't matter if you know the subject matter or not.

2. Feature ideas
Find topics you never would have envisioned before. Find events in your state, in your backyard. Recharge your creative batteries with fresh material. Joyce writes for bakery as well as energy magazines, on topics I'm sure she isn't well-versed in.

3. Learn how to write a great PR
Read press releases each day for material and soon you absorb what makes for a great press release . . . for yourself later.

4. Find experts
Chicken or the egg - find the story then the experts? Or find the expert then establish the story? Doesn't matter. But you can find both in press releases.

5. Access trade magazines
With the wide assortment of crazy press releases out there, you'll find people to interview, topics to research, and experts to cite so that you can win pitches to trade publications, some on subject matter you never dreamed of writing. I wrote about the market for custom-made concrete fountains for a landscape magazine. All because I heard about a company through a release.

Now you have a new tool for your freelancing toolbox. Use it often and it will bring you ample reward . . . maybe enough to lead to some serious income adjustment.


Karen Lange said...

Thanks, Hope! I love finding new angles and you've provided oodles of inspiration these last few years. :)

Hope Clark said...

You can find the best story ideas from press releases. You can go wild with it!