For rescue groups and for many shelters there is no such thing as a marketing budget. But that doesn’t mean you can’t promote your black dogs! Many PR opportunities exist and leveraging them can result in hundreds if not thousands of dollars of free PR. This free PR can in turn increase adoptions, save lives, attract more volunteers to your organization and boost charitable giving.

One vital tool in your quest for free PR is the press release. A press release is a fantastic way to get attention from the media outlets and organizations in your area if it is presented professionally, has newsworthy, relevant information and is written in an engaging manner. A few reasons to do a press release might include:

• Highlight an award or special recognition that your group receives.

• Acknowledge an especially large donation and donar.

• Announce a unique, creative adoption event.

• Celebrate a milestone goal in reducing the number of shelter deaths.

• Announce an annual increase in the number of adoption placements.

• Acknowledge an award or special recognition that one of your adopted dogs has received. This can include an award for service or therapy work, or for winning an athletic competition such as agility, Frisbee or weight pulling.

While there are many reasons you may choose to do a press release, how you do it can determine if you experience free PR victory or the agony of defeat. Taking the time to consider the following factors will greatly increase your chances of getting the free PR you seek.

Top Press Release Tips

•Make sure the information is newsworthy. Ask yourself the question "why should the public care?" Your story needs an angle. How is it unique? How is it connected to a hot news topic? To a seasonal event? Is it actually news or just an advertisement for you?

•Think like a reporter. Your press release needs to highlight real news, so think objectively. Would a reporter care about this story? Reporters only care about news. They will love you if you provide something that helps make their job easier, like a really great story.

•Ask yourself the following questions when developing your press release angle:

    • Is your angle related to a hot news story or a seasonal event?

    • Is your angle something people would be surprised to know?

    •Is your angle unique?

    •Is your angle something that helps people?

•Provide as much contact information as possible. Include the name of the individual at your organization to contact, their title, address, phone, fax, email and website address.

•Make sure your subject line and headline get attention. You need a “wow” factor. If the first 10 words of your press release don’t grab the reporter’s attention, they’ll move on.

•Avoid excessive use of adjectives and fancy language. Use plain language and stay focused.

•Stick to the facts. You can make it interesting, but avoid the temptation to embellish. Use real life examples that the reader will identify with.