you a marketer in the mode of promoting products, services, or branding
a company name or URL? Do you desire targeted and qualified visitors?
These are the types of questions marketers need to ask when forming a
publicity plan. The key elements to take away from this lesson are:
a media contact list
vs. non newsworthy content
an effective news release
dynamics between publicists and journalists is an important element to
understand. Theoretically, the relationship between publicists and journalists
is a great relationship upon which they both can utilize one another to
provide the public with the most up-to-date information possible.
However, when it comes to power, journalists have it because they hold
the pen. Whether companies hire a PR firm or serve as their own publicist,
company marketers need to empathize with the press who are constantly
bombarded with press releases, information, and deadlines.
addition, if a journalist calls a publicist for information, often the
journalist expects the publicist to drop everything and serve their
needs. Unfortunately, this does not always hold true when a publicist
needs help from a journalist. Reporters are always looking for "hot
topic" stories and most of them don't mind if they ruffle a few feathers
to get one. One hint: don't ever say anything to press, if you don't
want it printed. "Off the record" is a distant memory.
journalists could name one problem they have with publicists it would
most likely be related to receiving press releases that have no relevance
to their publication, since e-mail can be easily used to contact journalists.
Likewise, journalists can easily delete an e-mail if they feel they
are being spammed. Even worse, an unrelated message has the potential
of inspiring a less than appealing message about a company.
usually place the company at the forefront of new releases.
Journalists, on the other hand, generally have the interests of their
audience at the top of their considerations. Journalists are
looking for newsworthy data to share. As a business marketer, your
job is to accomplish both: 1) Communicate with the target audience
of the company, providing information that is in demand, and 2) Make sure
the information is unique and newsworthy if press coverage is the goal.
A plan is essential to executing a publicity campaign. On a deeper
level, marketers must know their audience before developing a campaign
a Media Contact List
first action should be to identify who will be visiting and using the
company web site. Marketers also need to discover what other online
and off-line mediums their audience uses. From their research they might
consider utilizing more than just Internet related means to reach their
audience. For example, if some potential customers sell accounting and
tax services, results may occur by publicizing the site in an accounting
magazine rather than a web marketing web site like Clickz.com.
next important move after finding appropriate publications is to find
the right journalist who would be interested in writing in writing about
the company event or other newsworthy announcement. Nothing labels
marketers "amateur" more than sending a press kit to every editor found
on a list. Before taking such action, marketers need to realize that
news organizations are internally specialized. Reading through
the publication or site being targeted is very wise prior to disbursing
a press release. Read publications for tone and assistance in
writing format each news organization.
help with PR efforts, consider developing a few relationships with writers
before sending out press releases. The writers will be able to
provide insights and might be more inclined to read a press release
from an organization they recognize.
term that may be helpful to know when dealing with the press is a Non-Disclosure
Agreement (NDA), commonly known as "embargo." Theoretically,
embargo means that the information sent to the journalist will
not be published until a specified date. Most journalists will keep
within the parameters set; however, there are a few exceptions to the
rule. If concerned, marketers might be able to get journalists to sign
a non-disclosure agreement.
writers make themselves available through e-mail. While reading articles
about important topics in a specific industry, marketers will need to
keep a database of e-mail addresses they pick up from bylines or bios.
-vs- Non NewsWorthy
Database of Journalist Info Should Include:
a media list is possible, but there is a good chance that list has been
used and spammed. Experts suggest that it is more important to have a
few good contacts than a lot of bad ones. In other words, it would be
better to send 50 e-mails to people who are interested in receiving your
message than 200 e-mails that will ultimately be sent to the trash or
worse, labeled as spam and blocked from their server.
Time (Most editors have various amounts of times to finish a story)
Outsourcing a professional public relations firm
is one avenue marketers might consider. Since PR firms already
have a lot of connections and relationships in the industry, outsourcing
can help get a jump-start in promoting a company. However,
research is needed on any company being considered for hire, especially
if the company is on a tight budget. Here are some companies to consider:
Additionally, researching some media directories which are frequently
updated and are subscription-based is recommended. Medimap, located
in Boston, seems to be the most popular media directory and can be found
to publications or corporate news outlets that a new design has been launched
on a company web site has not been newsworthy since 1995. Unless,
of course, your web site added a section that sells flying cars. The point
is entrepreneurial organizations may need to work harder to get publicity,
unlike publicly-traded companies that can make routine changes and still
draw interest from corporate news centers. To assist in evaluating
whether or not news is truly newsworthy, marketers should ask themselves
if the news informs the media of something unique to the marketplace or
is freshly beneficial in some way. Marketers should strive for compelling
stories that describe benefits. Something that isn't unique is not
worth the time to write or send.
worthy news story has a good hook with a human interest, local pride,
or celebrity spin on it. A newsworthy story could even be
humorous, exciting, or have irony.
are some possible hooks for online entrepreneurs:
on findings from a survey
putting together information for the news release, write down answers
to the following questions:
is the point the company wants to share with the public?
is the image the company is trying to brand in the eyes of the public?
the following in mind when you draft a news release:
What? (What is the purpose?)
Why? (Why are you releasing the product
Where? (Where is it being release? Is
it national or international?)
When? (When was/ will the product be
the press release is to communicate an event, be sure to include the
financial cost of and time frame for the event.
the event open to all or are there limitations or restrictions on
who is invited?
the content newsworthy?
Writing Effective Press Releases
to writing press releases, companies need to establish a marketing niche.
With a marketing niche in place, marketers are prepared to state to the
world what benefits to expect. A primary public relations goal is
to get the right messages to the right people. In other words, create
a systematic plan that includes writing and distributing press releases.
press release is a short summary of information sent to writers or members
of the media, containing news surrounding a company. Sending news
announcements or providing expertise in a specific area of specialty
should be a primary factor within any media campaign strategy.
Marketers should remember that the media is sent hundreds of e-mails
everyday. Before deciding to produce a release, marketers should
ask themselves if the information is timely and relevant enough to be
considered. An example of a good time to send a press release is when
a company has just released a new product or service or if the company
just opened a new office or has won an award.
all, keep releases short -- equivalent to a page and a half of printed
text. Press releases are occasionally posted verbatim. If
a release is longer than a page, providing a link at the bottom for
additional information on the subject is recommended. Providing
an e-mail address, phone and physical address is imperative.
Converting to E-mail
Obviously, most journalists use e-mail so it is
likely that they would prefer to receive press releases as e-mail.
However, it wouldn't hurt to ask them what their formatting preferences
are concerning sending information. Example: Discovering what word
processing program they use or any other software format they prefer for
you write a release in Microsoft Word or other word processing software,
remember, when you cut and paste your information to your e-mail message
that line lengths should be limited to 65 characters. Limiting
line length can be done by manually counting lines, while some programs
such as Textpad have the ability
to limit line length. Not limiting line length will cause spacing
problems which make reading the message difficult for many recipients.
And if you're wondering why not just send the word processing file as
an attachment, the answer is simple: Attachments from unknown
or expected sources are often deleted prior to opening due to the rapid
spread of viruses.
Basic Formula of a Press Release
The goal of a press release is to clearly and
concisely communicate the message. Following a predictable formula
so that a journalist can easily scan a press release in search of relevant
information may mean the publication (or non-publication) of the release.
A typical press release outline is as follows:
A headline is a statement of a few words that
gets to the point as quickly as possible. A headline is strait forward
and leaves guesswork aside. Use the Associated Press style as your guide
on rules, grammar, tense, etc.
Name, Last Name, e-Mail Address
Provide the name and e-mail address of the person
who compiled the news release (or the name of the chairperson).
Release should be made Public
Include a date the company would like the
press release to be sent.
Release was Written
Include the date; you never know when a journalist
may use it again as a reference tool. And include "For Immediate
Release" at the top of the document.
Be sure to include a title an any subtitles
desired for the press release. Including these removes error
in spelling, grammar, and content
Include the location of the generating company
Provide the press with a contact person to call,
if different that who've then been discussing things with.
A lead follows a headline and is the most important
part of the release as it is a statement that covers the news essentials
of who, what, where, how, and why.
Use quotes to move the story forward.
Quotes are best used as opinions or in making claims.
A boilerplate is a short description of the
company and what it does. Keep this part under two sentences.
Always include company contact information.
A company who doesn't want to provide a phone number, e-mail address,
street address, and fax number doesn't want business. If
applicable, list availability of products, services, and prices.
are many sites that post press releases and then distribute to target
audiences. Before beginning to send new releases, researching the online
resources for targeting abilities is highly recommended. www.businesswire.com.
Rules to Follow
a link for posting press releases free of charge: http://www.prweb.com/login.php
addition, press releases can be sent to discussion lists and newsletters.
Many e-zine publishers scour the Internet looking for sources - new
content to add to a regularly-sent newsletter. If contacted,
express interest in building a networking relationship and offer to
contribute news or information to an e-zine focusing on a personal specialty.
In fact, do not wait to be contacted by an e-zine, look for them.
E-zines and press releases serve the same purpose - build trust by providing
information. Both are also forms of viral marketing.
sending a news release to a writer or editor, send a short introduction
of yourself to give the press release some background and clout.
After developing communication with a writer, get to the point as quickly
as possible. Don't be afraid to be up front; most editors appreciate honesty
and clarity. One way to emphasize points is to bullet or bold main
points, which breaks up the paragraph for easier reading and helps it
stand out. Above all, pay close attention to length. Keep
press releases under a page or within a screen size so receivers won't
have to scroll down to see all the information.
Traits Sure to Cause Pain
keep in mind that even if your company meets the above criteria
there is no guarantee that the media will use your release. Keep
researching and keep trying.
the press is like tending the seeds in a garden--both need attention or
else they will die.
Don't Promote a Poorly Developed and Maintained Web Site
First rule: Do
not add reports to e-mail press release distribution list without asking.
rule: Don't send attachments without
prior consent. Writers and reporters can be inclined to trash attachments
for fear of viruses.
Keep It Short and Simple (KISS).
Fourth rule: Use
common sense and netiquette.
site that takes more than a minute to download through a 56K modem, or
one that has navigational problems or broken links will quickly burn future
visits. If you don't want to publish a fully functional web site,
publish a business card web site that provides basic contact / business
information. * Important note: Business card web sites should not
be promoted until they contain something of interest on it..
the Company Site Hot or Cold?
executing a grand publicity scheme, an honest assessment of a company's
value can be done by evaluating how many people visit the site and
how long they stay. Visitor statistics are available through many host
providers and statistical software. Please note that visible hit
counters are extremely unprofessional and reveal nothing of relevance
to a management team. A careful evaluation of a site may also
reveal the reason for accepted or denied press releases. Web sites
in the "cold" category are sites responsible for inherently discouraging
company press coverage due to poor design and usability issues.
in public to targeted groups. Even if the group is small, the viral marketing
spawned from such an event may be worth its weight in gold.
an opinion. Look through magazines, newspapers, and other publications
to see if you can offer an opinion, suggestion, or insight on a subject
at hand. Many online forums are good resources.
professional organizations that offer membership and an opportunity
to share professional insight.
a radio or local television station and offer your time as a guest on
the show. Be prepared to concisely and clearly explain the specific
topic the company representative plans to share.
articles about the specific industry and specialty of the company.
Then submit the articles to various content sites.
mentioned, marketers should follow a predictable format so journalists
can quickly scan the content for relevant information. So
try a template.
you have access to Microsoft Word, you will need to use it for this
Word has a built in Press Release Template. To find the
template, click File, New, Business Planner Templates.
The file is named "press release.dot". There is also a
public relations planner template, named "public relations planner.dot"
that may be of interest to you.
the template and completely fill out the template.
2 resources for distributing your press release online.
one e-zine that you could offer to write a publication for that would
enhance your credibility and promote your site through increased awareness
and viral marketing principles.
to test yourself:
eMarketing Association -All Rights Reserved