Write Press Releases That Dazzle
When a reporter is wowed, intrigued, surprised or captivated by your press release, you can be pretty sure you'll get some media coverage. And for most businesses, positive media coverage is worth its weight in gold. The bad news: Although truckloads of news releases fill reporters' inboxes every day, few of them are dazzling, or even interesting.
As a former editor, I speak from experience when I say that most press releases end up in the garbage can. But don't let that stop you from sending them - a well-written news release can generate more publicity and goodwill than you could ever accomplish with a paid advertisement. To help keep your release out of the garbage and get it in print, start by following these five guidelines.
1. Make it newsworthy. Releases should be used to announce news, and they should only be sent when something truly newsworthy is happening at your company. Don't send releases that sound more like advertisements than news; they'll get tossed immediately. (However, newsworthy events may happen more often than you realize - see the Resource Box below for ideas.)
In keeping with the news format, eliminate any superfluous language or outrageous claims (don't describe yourself or your products as "wonderful," "amazing" or "unbelievable"). Is your release written in language that would appear in a story in the newspaper or magazine you're pitching? If not, it might sound like fluff rather than news. Make it clear from the beginning what your news is and why it should matter to the reporter and his or her readers.
2. Tell a good story. Although you're sharing hard news (I hope), your press release should still be interesting to read. Even though your readers are media-types who do this for a living, they still like to hear a good story. Draw in your readers with a creative introduction and interesting language. Find new ways to say ordinary things. Read magazines, newspapers and books and pay attention to the stories that interest you and keep your attention. Then try to mimic those techniques and styles when writing your own releases.
3. Target your audience. As with any writing project, keep your audience in mind when you're writing. The editor of a small-town newspaper has different interests than the editor of a trade journal for CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Choose the media outlets that would be most interested in your release and send it to them. For best results, you might even send each person a unique version tailored to their interests. And always send your release to an actual person - rather than sending a release to a general news desk, find out which reporter covers your industry or the type of news you're sending and send it directly to him or her.
4. Develop a relationship. Once you've located the reporters who cover your industry, start developing relationships with them. Call or e-mail to introduce yourself and find out if they prefer releases to be faxed, e-mailed or mailed. Be respectful of their time and the harried pace of their work, but don't be afraid to check in occasionally to follow up on a press release or let them know how much you enjoyed a recent article. Don't just rely on them for fr*e publicity; find out what you can do for them and do it - one-sided relationships never last. Be easy to work with and willing to accommodate their needs, and they'll be much more interested in covering your news.
5. Be consistent. Your communication with the media must be ongoing in order to get their attention. One release sent in a vacuum will probably not yield a lot of results. If reporters are unfamiliar with you or your business, it won't be a top priority for them to cover your release. However, if they're accustomed to receiving (actual) news from you and you've made an effort to forge a positive relationship with them (see #4), they're more likely to a) actually read your releases, and b) publish them, or at least keep you in mind as a resource for future stories. If you really want to take advantage of the possibilities press releases can offer, keep hanging in there.
Nancy Jackson, owner of The WriteShop, helps companies better market their products and services with powerful written communications including Web content, newsletters, brochures and publications. Subscribe to her free monthly newsletter at www.writeshoponline.com.
6 Essentials for Doing Your Own PR: Guest Author
Today's issue of Lean Marketing Champions features tips on doing your own PR from one of our authors and PR goddess, Paula Gardner.
Media Training: How to Tell a More Interesting Story
PRESIDENT BUSH TELLS A STORY
Publicity: Polls and Surveys Are a Great Path Free Publicity
When I search Google News for "surveys," I get nearly 50,000 results. When I search for "stocks," I get about 54,000. The media love polls and surveys.
Between Now and Economic Recovery
There's still time to review your public relations program like Navy flight crews go over a fighter jet.
TV Reporter Shares the Secrets to Getting Covered on the News
Do you have a great idea for a story, but no clue how to get it in the news? Are you tired of pitching press releases the news media simply ignores?
PR: Behavior Modification Specialist
While awaiting economic recovery, business needs to attract the attention of its most important external audiences in a more targeted and focused way. Primarily to impact the perceptions of those key outsiders so that resulting behaviors help those managers achieve their objectives.
PR Where it Matters Most
What's more crucial to the success of a business, non-profit or association than its most important outside audiences and stakeholders?
Public Relations Success Starts Here
For discerning business, non-profit and association managers, PR success is pretty much a matter of achieving their managerial objectives by altering perceptions leading to changed behaviors among those important external audiences that MOST affect their department, group, division or subsidiary.
Managerial Survival Key
For business, non-profit or association managers like yourself, survival pretty much depends on whether you achieve, or fail to achieve your department, division or subsidiary objectives.
The Story The Media Really Wants
If you're like most of my clients, you're probably interested in getting the media to cover the success of your business. These "business success stories" can be used for future marketing efforts -- including reprints of the story in your marketing materials or on your Web site, or framing the article and hanging it in your office.
PR: Lets Talk Fundamentals
How much more fundamental can you get than this? As a business, non-profit or association manager, if you don't get your most important outside audiences on your side, you will fail.
Are You a PR Chowderhead?
You are if you stand by while your public relations people futz around with communications tactics instead of nailing down those outside audience behaviors that help you reach your objectives.
Public Relations Mixup?
When you pay good money for public relations services, you have a right to expect its primary focus to be on your most important outside audiences, those people whose behaviors have the greatest impact on your operation.
Media Relations: Making Your Story More Newsworthy
During my career as the head of media relations for the world's second largest environmental group, I regularly heard a common refrain from the scientists who so desperately wanted press attention for their projects. "But my project is so important," they'd say, expecting that was enough to crack the evening news.
Media Relations: How We Landed on the Wall Street Journals Front Page
Media relations is a great profession.
The Truth About Public Relations
The truth is, you CAN attract the support of those external audiences whose behaviors have the most effect on your enterprise. But you must do it by first achieving the positive changes you need in their perceptions and, thus, behaviors.
Dont Use PR
?lose the confidence of your key target audiences? discourage them from taking actions that lead to your success?fail to achieve your department, division or subsidiary objectives.
Make Sure Your Media Room Rocks
If a reporter was writing a story about you and your company and she visited your website, could she find anything useful and interesting about you to use in her story? And could she find it quickly? Or would she immediately abandon your site and look for one of your competitors to write about?
Editorial Calendars: A Key to Publicizing Your Business
What is the one thing that all of the best public relationsagencies do every year?
Company Dress Codes for Small Business; Shorts and Pants
Most small businesses have logo'ed shirts, usually polo shirts with logos, this is typical in American Business. But many small businesses either do not have a dress code for pants and shorts or they have one, but rarely enforce it. Others take the approach that unless something is way out of line, the small business owner just doesn't say anything. What is you dress code in your small business? Is it an unspoken dress code? If so you are not alone.
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