Ah… those glowing gems of media wonder, the often hated, but yet beloved press releases. Pen the right words to get the grand prize: a media interview. Being recognized in a positive light by the local media is an efficient way to share information about your business to a broad audience of people. A good press release mixed with some fantastic social skills is key to your being recognized and interviewed by the local media, podcasters and beyond. A press release is typically a newsworthy article-type correspondence which is emailed or faxed to area media: radio and television stations, newspapers, business journals, and such. Also, IdeaMarketers.com and EzineArticles.com provide outlets for your genius, expert self.
Writing a press release has a simple formula. The first step is to ensure your information is true and newsworthy. With some thought and collaboration, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding something newsworthy about your business. Are you having a special open house? Did someone in your company get a promotion or receive an award? Can you offer specialized advice for the general public?
Write the most important and/or intriguing information in the first paragraph. This is your opportunity to hook your reader so he or she continues reading. This doesn’t need to become complicated. In fact, stay away from elaborate words and phrases and stick to simple, straight-forward writing. Write using the inverted pyramid style. Now, here comes the tricky part. While you are writing this concise, informative, journalistic article, make it personal and interesting. You can do this by adding quotes and clarifying how this information impacts the reader and community.
Attribute the information to specific sources. You want to do this to insure the reader finds the information not only pertinent and interesting with mass appeal, but also verifiable. So, your reader has found your writing to be crystal clear, important to his target demographic, and interesting. Now, ask yourself, does he know how to contact me for more information or to schedule an interview? Contact information is crucial. Let’s talk about where to put it. The format of your release is of extreme importance. You will want to follow the standard specifications so as to make the reporter’s job as effortless as possible. To simplify this process, please see the example below.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Miki Markovich
Your email address
Being Shy is an Asset
New Marketing and Public Relations Techniques Ensure Success and Job Satisfaction
(Eugene, OR, February 15, 2011) – For years, there has been a consensus that being shy is detrimental in the business world, specifically in the area of marketing and public relations. However, people across the nation are discovering there are common sense techniques that enhance existing skills to increase both success and job satisfaction.
“I feel very good about myself. I have increased productivity and job satisfaction. By writing personal notes, I leave people feeling special and have saved time and energy by cutting down on uncomfortable, in-person meetings with people I’ve never met. Not only am I happy, but my boss is also thrilled because our company has increased profitability,” said Miki Markovich, Director of ABC Co.
The press release above is shortened to be a format template. The three number symbols at the bottom indicate the end of an article in journalism. It’s important to use the correct format as to make the reporter’s job as easy as possible.
Typically, a press release is one to three pages long. You want to be short and concise. The goal is to generate enough media interest to warrant an interview. A good way to familiarize yourself with the content and format is to pull up examples on-line of those successful press releases used in your industry.
In order to get your information read by the proper person, you must know whom to address. You can find this information through various modes of research. In the newspaper, there is usually a section that lists section editors or beats. For television, radio, or even newspaper, this information can often be found on their websites. If none of these avenues result in the needed information, you can call the offices directly and ask for the name of the editor you seek, whether that is the business, technology, education, or news. Once this information is verified, write this information in a marketing contact book for future reference.
The next step is to prepare you’re a short greeting to post at the top of the email or a fax cover sheet. If faxing, have your cover sheet or the first page of your press release on letterhead stationary. If this isn’t possible, have your logo and contact information on the coversheet. This can be done inexpensively by placing your business card at the top, right corner of a sheet of paper or for the more tech savvy out there, simply utilize your logo and design your letterhead on your computer. Make a copy and there you go, instant letterhead. Complete the sections listing who the fax is to, who it is from, how many pages, and the reason for sending the fax. I try to include a genuine compliment such as “I heard your interview with the mayor on the radio Monday. Fabulous job. Your questions were insightful.”
However, if I don’t have any compliments to give, I just write, “I look forward to hearing from you. Have a wonderful week,” and draw a smiley face. If these efforts aren’t directly rewarded with an invitation for an interview, don’t hesitate to follow up with a phone call. Research when it is convenient for the reporter or editor. Keep in mind that we don’t like additional work under high-pressure deadlines and neither do they. Rather than interrupting, calling after business hours is always an option. If you do choose to call during normal working hours, without knowing the reporter’s most convenient time, simply ask when you get him or her on the phone, “Is this a good time to visit?”
Congratulations. You have the interview. Now what do you do? Go and survive. Details should come in the next posting. Smiles to you and best wishes.