Maximizing Promotion through Media Relations


Media relations incorporates any method of dealing with the media to create exposure for your products or services and will promote a positive image of your company and reinforce previous or create new customer relationships. Having media contacts is a vital part of marketing, both online and offline. An online media strategy can be extremely beneficial in generating traffic to your Web site. In this issue we will focus on press release distribution.

Because the media and reporters are seen as unbiased third parties, media coverage or publicity is seen as carrying more weight with the public than paid advertisements. In addition, press release distribution is more cost-effective as there is no advertising space to pay and the cost of writing and distributing a press release is minimal. However, because you have no control over what content is actually printed or the timing of a release you should not rely exclusively on publicity for important news and events.

1. Tips

When sending out press releases you should consider the following:
  • Make sure to send the press release to a specific individual within an organization who handles press releases
  • Never send a press release out aimlessly or to more than one editor within an organization unless there is more than one angle to the message
  • If possible, contact the editor prior to sending the press release to peak their interest.
  • Review editorial calendars in your industry for a targeted opportunities to submit articles for the best chance of reaching the desired audience.
Different media have different time lines so it is important to know time guidelines for press release distribution:
  • Monthly magazines - Because magazines are being planned for in advance to allow for printing and mailing time, most magazines are working on issues that will not be released for a few months. It is best to submit any press releases to monthly magazines at least two to three months prior to the issue you want it to appear in. 
  • Daily Newspapers - Just because it is a daily newspaper does not mean a release that is received today is going to be featured in tomorrow's paper. You should have your release on the editor's desk several weeks in advance and even sooner if your message involves a holiday.
  • TV & Radio - You must keep in mind that when submitting a press release to a TV or radio station that they may ask that you appear as a guest. Be prepared as TV and radio move quickly...a press release that shows up on a news director's desk in the morning may be a feature story on tonight's evening news. 

What is considered newsworthy? Press releases must contain newsworthy information that an editor feels would be of interest to their audience. If possible have your message contain a catch or make it appeal to some emotion:

  • Human interest angle 
  • Unusual event
  • Humor, wisdom, fun or tragedy
  • Unusual creative ideas
  • Holiday/Event tie-ins
  • Tips, articles and advice

So, what exactly are the journalists looking for?

  • Headline that grabs attention
  • Use the words You, New, How To
  • Write for scanability
  • Short punchy paragraphs
  • Answer who, what, when, where, why and how in the first paragraph
  • Write from the 3rd person perspective
  • Write story as it would appear in the publication with little or no editing required by the journalist
  • Provide it in the body of the email so the journalist with a quick copy/paste has the first version of the story
  • Make sure to place http:// before any Web site address to make it a hyperlink so that the journalist can click and go to the desired location on a Web site automatically
  • Write the press release so that the story is complete at the end of each paragraph - providing the journalist quick and ready copy for whatever amount of space he/she has
  • Dynamite Title - 90% of your time should be spent on this 
  • Use testimonials and quotes
  • For each sentence ask "So what?"
  • Make your press release interactive
    • links to your Web site
    • links to your pictures for the story
    • links to media contact
    • links to your media center


_________________________________________________________


2. Tools

Press Blaster

Press Blaster is software for Windows that turns your PC into your own in-house press release distribution center. You can select your contacts, send e-mail, and print mailing labels, all from one easy interface. You'll also get the coveted database that all the major players use to get their free press.
http://www.pressblaster.net

PRWizard

PRWizard is a powerful, automated press release submission software program that lets you effortlessly broadcast your press release to over 28,000 targeted media contacts.
http://www.prwizard.com

PR Web Online Press Release Database

PR Web is a free service, which allows visitors to post their press release in a database. The press release is then archived in the database and indexed with all of the major search engines. In addition, they compile a daily digest of press releases, which have been submitted through their service. 
http://www.prweb.com

3. Techniques

Journalists are constantly being besieged with press releases so it is important to present the press release in an appealing format and style. It should be written as if it were prepared by an unbiased third party and follow a standard format as illustrated below. 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Contact Person
Company Name
Telephone Number
Fax Number
Email Address
Web site address

Headline (to make the reader want to keep reading and should be powerful while summarizing your message. Keep it short...less than 10 words):

City, State, Date 

Body - The first sentence should summarize your headline and immediately convey to the reader why this press release is newsworthy. It is vitally important to immediately grab the reader's attention because they receive numerous press releases a day. You should begin by listing all the important information first and then follow up with support documentation. A good way to start is to ask yourself the five W's (who, what, when, where and why) and answer them. Write the press release as if it were a newspaper article. Make sure to make it interesting by including some quotes from key individuals in the company and any other credible sources. Statistics and references are also important elements to include if possible. The last paragraph should include a brief company overview. 

The Close - If your press release is more than one page, center the word "-more-" at the bottom of the first page. To end your press release there are three standard formats:

  • Center the symbols "###"
  • Center the word "end"
  • Center the number "-30-" 

 

Formatting Your Email Press Release

It is a good idea to check the reporter's preferred method of receiving press releases. While some prefer email, others prefer faxed or mailed press releases. If you do email your press release make sure your emails are formatted properly:

  • Should contain short paragraphs
  • Be one to two pages in length
  • Content should be in the body as opposed to an attachment because:
    • You don't know which platform the reporter is using
    • You don't know which word processing software the reporter is using
    • You are not sure what kind of internet connection the reporter has and email messages are quicker to download then those with attachments
  • Subject line of your email should be compelling and make the journalist want to open the message because they receive many press releases per day
  • Email should be clear and concise
  • Provide it in the body of the email so the journalist with a quick copy/paste has the first version of the story
  • Make sure to place http:// before any Web site address to make it a hyperlink so that the journalist can click and go to the desired location on a Web site automatically

For more information on formatting your email press release see the resources section of this newsletter. 

4. Resources

I have included a couple of resources for you to check out when developing your press releases. For additional resources on a variety of topics, I recommend you visit the resources section of my Web site at http://www.susansweeney.com/resources.php. There you will find additional tips, tools, techniques and resources.  

Dr. Randall Hansen's Guide to Writing Successful Press Releases

This site is all about providing the resources to help you write better press releases. While this site is designed to help you write better press releases for the promotion of new Web sites, the expertise and tools provided here could be effective for any kind of promotional campaign.
http://www.stetson.edu/~rhansen/prguide.html

How to Write and Format a Press Release for Email Distribution

This article details all the important details you must include in an email press release and also gives an example of an email press release. The format is based on feedback from journalists and reporters so you can give them what they are looking for.
http://www.xpresspress.com/PRnotes.html



Visit my Web site at http://www.susansweeney.com