Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Journalists Offer Tips for Making Sure You Get Media Buzz

Some journalist friends were commenting online recently about the best ways for small businesses, small nonprofit organizations, and others to get that free media attention known as publicity. They gave me permission to share their advice here so that more could benefit from their wisdom:

  • Keep your press releases short and as to the point as possible.
  • Always ask yourself this question: Would YOU read about your press release topic if it featured another business?
  • Watch for trends and use them to pitch stories that will help put a spotlight on your business or organization.
  • Be willing to tell the story of how you coped when things went wrong. Conflict is the crux of a good story.
  • Put the point in the first paragraph of the press release. If you're telling me about your new restaurant, get the opening of a new restaurant in the first graph, don't give me four graphs about the local foodie scene and the chef's mother first.
  • Include complete contact info.
  • Don't send giant photo files.
  • If your press release is in plain text and in the body of the e-mail rather than in an attachment, I already like you better than people who sent attachments.
  • Who needs a press release? Just send the basic facts in a basic format. "Hi. I'm John Smith and I have a story that I think your readers will be interested in."
  • Show that you read the paper. Suggest where your story might fit. If you send it to several editors (and that's OK), you can mention that you did so and we won't hold it against you.
  • Respond quickly when a reporter calls you. They may be looking for sources who are available that day or that week. If you're not ready, they will move on to someone else. I used to do shopping guides, and I was amazed at how many stores refused to answer basic questions, such as hours. So I left them out and moved on to someone else.
  • If you are the business owner yourself, you can call a few times to follow up. If you are a local PR person, you can call once. If you are an out-of-town PR person, don't call.
  • Don't call to find out if your item has been in the paper, don't ask me to help you find it on the Web site and don't ask me to send you a clipping. It shows you don't read the paper, so why would I waste my time putting you in it?

This is all just common sense, but sometimes we need to be reminded.


Tracy said...

Oh, good information!

I usually put the body of the press release in the email itself but always wondered if that was the right way to go about it.


Sandra Beckwith said...

Hi Tracy,

How are you? (The photo didn't fool me.)

Yes, paste the press release into the body of the e-mail.