Publicity is the most effective way to gain customers. It differs from advertising, as you can’t control the message or the timing, but the benefit is great. A news story in a local or national publication can give more details about your business in a way that allows your expertise to show through. People skim through the advertisement sections but are more apt to read informative articles. And how do you get an article written about you? Start with a media release (also known as a press release or news release).
A media release is a prepared news story that you write and send to the media. If it contains the type of useful information an editor needs, your chance of publication is greater. An editor may reprint all or a section of your release as an article. Or it may be used as background information for an article already in the works. And if you’re lucky, a journalist may be sent out on assignment to interview you for a comprehensive story about your business. A photographer is sometimes used, which will maximize your exposure.
Choosing an Editor
A media release must be submitted to the appropriate editor if you hope to see your name in print. If your business is technical in background, don’t submit a media release to a publication that is geared to family entertainment. It’s not only a waste of the editor’s time; it’s a waste of your time and efforts. You must know your target market and what they read then submit to the appropriate editor. It will take some research on your part but it will pay off.
Writing your Media Release…
As more businesses are opting for free publicity, it’s imperative that you make your media release stand apart. Design the set-up to be easily read and make the story compelling. When emailing a media release, make sure you copy the release into the body of the email – never send as an attachment as it will not get opened. It may help to print your media release on brightly coloured paper and send it by mail so it doesn’t melt into the rest of the white pages off the editor’s fax machine. One editor told me that she personally opens all hand-written envelopes. Try it – your media release may be the first envelope she looks at in the morning. Your best chance of having it read, is to send it by the editor’s preferred method – so find out in advance how he or she wants it sent.
When writing your media release, consider what is different about your business. What makes your business stand apart from your competitors and worthy of being printed? Are you doing something unusual that is of interest to the readers? And remember to write in the third person: say, “ABC Business announces…” not “we announce….” Your media release should not read like an advertising supplement.
A well-written media release must include the 5 W’s & H.
- Who is doing it?
- What are they doing?
- When are they doing it?
- Where are they doing it?
- Why are they doing it?
- How are they doing it?
The lead sentence of your media release must contain the “hook” to grab the editor’s attention. It should tell what impact your story will have on the community or why your story is newsworthy to your target market. Don’t forget to include a contact name and phone number at the bottom of your release. Editors receive many releases with no mention of how to contact the sender, so some great stories never receive the publicity they deserve.
Your work is not over when you’ve emailed or faxed your media release to prospective editors. You can’t just sit back and wait for the telephone to ring. It’s time to take action. Call the editor and ask if the media release was received or if more information is needed. But only call once – don’t antagonize the editor and don’t despair if they can’t use your story. It may take several attempts to get the coverage you want. But your persistence can pay off with the ultimate exposure money can’t buy.
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