Want to share some news about your small business? Consider issuing a news release. Formatted like a news story, a news release is designed to publicize an accomplishment, announce an event or a new service, introduce new products or services, or share helpful information that readers can use.

News outlets may reproduce the news release as is (or with some editing), or follow up with a longer story. And the best news for the small business owner is that the publicity is typically free of charge, unlike paid advertising.

If your goal is to get the attention of local newspapers or broadcast stations, ask how they prefer to receive news releases—regular mail, faxes, or email. For broader distribution, the emergence of online marketing has opened the door to a wide range of publicity channels. Pay services such as PRweb.com, PRnewswire.com, and Marketwire.com are among the most popular, though there are also free distribution services such as PRlog.com. You can also post your own news releases on your small business website.

They key to success in attracting interest to your online news release is the same as for any kind of digital marketing—search engine optimization (SEO). The content should contain keywords and phrases that Web users are likely to use when looking for information about a business such as yours. Locating them in the title and initial paragraphs will further increase the chances of the release being spotted by search engines, and capturing the attention of readers.

Similarly, a poorly organized news release will likely be ignored, and may have a negative effect on your company’s image. Though it may be worthwhile to hire a professional writer, several free tools are now available to help you craft press releases. Using Yahoo! Small Business’s Press Release Wizard or Instant Press Release, you simply fill in the information and technology does the rest. Be sure to review the generated release to ensure clarity and accurate spelling, and edit accordingly.

Some other rules of news release content are as important as ever—be brief, avoid specialized jargon, and focus on why the news is important to readers. The more value you incorporate in your content, the more likely your news release will generate the reader response and interest you’re looking for.

Press Release