Publicity and Press Release Basics
By Veronika (Ronnie) Noize, the Marketing Coach
What if you sent out a press release, and nobody cared? Unfortunately, that's often what happens when small businesses (and even some very large businesses) send out press releases.
So why do some companies consistently earn positive media coverage while others languish unnoticed by the press? The reason could be that the unnoticed companies simply haven't given the editors what they want and need.
Editors need to fill space over and over again, so they are actively looking for newsworthy stories, but they are not going to "discover" your business by accident. You have to invite their attention by developing relationships with them, and the best way to do that is to send them information they can use in the form of well-written press releases.
Wondering how to tell if your press release is good enough? Use this checklist to see whether your press release meets editors' standards:
- Format your release correctly. Is your press release formatted appropriately? While you want your press release to stand out, make sure that it stands out because of the excellent content, and not because of some unusual formatting (because believe me, it will not be appreciated). For some examples of proper formatting, check out the press release samples at http://www.prweb.com/.
- Include contact information. Is there contact information for both the reader and the editor? Your contact information is important for the editor, in case of questions or requests. While most editors will not usually include personal email addresses in stories, web site URLs are frequently inserted so readers can find out more about the subject.
- Make sure your press release is newsworthy. Is your press release newsworthy or just promotional? Editors want to share interesting and informative information, not sell your latest product, and so make sure that there is real value in your content. Ask yourself if a competitor released your press release, would you want to read it? If so, then it may be news. If not, scrap it and try again.
- Check grammar and spelling as if your life depended on it. What says "unprofessional" more clearly than poor grammar and spelling mistakes? (Hint: Not much!) Editors do not have the time to clean up after you, so if you want them to even consider your press releases, double and triple check your spelling!
- Make sure your story is 100% true. Don't make claims that you can't substantiate, no matter how tempting it may be to stretch the truth. There are some people out there who have so much time on their hands that they spend it contradicting or correcting stories in the paper. If an editor runs your press release and finds out that you sent it in without checking your facts, you have damaged a potentially powerful relationship, and will have a hard time building up that trust again.
- Use quotes when possible. Just make sure that the quotes are pertinent to the story and attributed to someone specific.
- Don't send attachments with electronic press releases, ever. If you want to include graphics or photos, provide links with some verbiage describing the photos, but that's it. You may also call editors to let them know that photos and images are available, but don't clog up their mailboxes with unsolicited attachments unless you want your email to be blocked permanently from editors' inboxes.
- Know your editors. You'll need to build an appropriate media list, and be sure that you're sending them only releases that might interest them. While it's fine to call editors to see if they would like more information, don't harass them about running your story. Once they know, like and trust you as a viable source, your press releases will get more attention.
And so what happens if your press release doesn't make it in the paper for no known reason? Keep trying and don't let that document go to waste!
- Try other routes if your press release isn't getting published. You can publish your story yourself on your own web site or newsletter, contribute it to trade or other association newsletters, send it in to the paper as op-ed or opinion piece, or even a letter to the editor.
- Use your published story or press release as a marketing tool. Add it to you press kit, your web site, send it to clients, colleagues, and prospects.
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This article was written by Veronika (Ronnie) Noize, the Marketing Coach. Ronnie's web site is a comprehensive marketing resource for small office/home office business professionals. For free marketing resources including articles and valuable marketing tools, visit her web site at www.VeronikaNoize.com, or email her at Ronnie@VeronikaNoize.com.
Publicity and Press Release Basics © 2003 Veronika Noize. All rights reserved.