Public Relations Tips You Can Take to the BankCopyright © 2005 Mary Eule
There are two vehicles for having your company’s information show up in a newspaper or magazine… pay to advertise or let the press do it for you. The latter occurs as a direct result of public relations (PR) efforts - actively seeking publicity as a form of marketing communications.
While each of these is valuable, a solid news story can give you with a higher ranking on the credibility ladder. Why? Because people understand that an ad is placed by you so are far more suspicious of its veracity. (Recent consumer studies confirm that most consumers think that all advertisements include outright lies and/or misleading information.)
However, articles written by others are viewed as more objective (especially if the author has no stake in your company’s success or failure) and thus, more believable.
It’s important to understand how this process works so you’ll be able to take advantage of newsworthy opportunities that may come your way.
Most newspapers (and other media such as TV and radio) have a designated employee (usually called an assignment editor) who has responsibility for decide what’s news and what isn’t. They are tasked with reading and evaluating press releases. The ones that make the cut are sent to another editor for follow-up and inclusions, the others are usually trashed. The vast majority, up to 90%, end up in the rubbish.
This is why it’s so important to get it right if you expect to compete with the hundreds of others vying for the same space. Here are some handy tips:
• Let a professional public relations expert write your press release and put together a press package for you. There are many freelance experts around who won’t charge you an arm and a leg. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, good public relations professionals network well and have media contacts the rest of us don’t! Also, keep in mind there are few boring stories, but many boring ways of telling them…another reason to seek wise counsel from a professional. (Chapter Eight contains several good resources)
• Focus on content versus form… Yes, there is a proper format, but it is far less important than what you say. Remember, newspapers need information as much as you need publicity. They are looking for timely, educational and informative information… so provide it. Conversely, local radio stations may be interested in airing stories that are funnier, quirkier or more controversial.
• Human interest stories are popular across all media types… one reason talk shows are so popular. So, if you have a compelling personal story, one that others will find interesting, tell it.
• Make sure that your story is timely and not late. If your store opened three months ago, it’s old news. Also, understand that journalists work on very tight deadlines, so it makes more sense to fax or e-mail, rather than mail, your release.
• Edit, Edit, Edit… If an editor sees typos and other errors, it may cause them to question the accuracy of your content… a real killer.
• Make sure that you include accurate contact information… Provide precise and complete information so you’re easy to find - phone (including cell) and fax numbers and e-mail, website and mailing addresses. The last thing you want is to miss an interview because you couldn’t be reached!
• The more back-up information you provide the better… The easier you make it for a journalist to cover your story, the more likely they’ll be to include it. Include photos, samples, interview availability times, research backup, and the like.
• Make sure to send press releases to all media in your area, no matter how small…. It’s much easier to get local, rather than regional or national, coverage.
• Contact journalists and offer yourself as an expert in a particular field… One they can count on to provide them with accurate and objective information on the subject
These are just a few tips to get you moving in the right direction. However, as I’ve said before, best cost is not always least cost… so get a professional to help you with your public relations efforts. It will save you time, money and aggravation in the end.
Mary Eule specializes in helping small and medium-sized businesses get and keep profitable customers. Formerly a Fortune 500 marketing executive; founder of two successful small businesses and award-winning speaker, Ms. Eule is President of Strategic Marketing Advisors, LLC. and co-author of a new book, "Mandatory Marketing: Small Business Edition".
She has a BA in Journalism/English from the University of Maryland and earned her a master’s degree in marketing from Johns Hopkins University. Log onto her website: http://www.StrategicMarketingAdvisors.com for free articles, newsletter and helpful marketing tools, tips and templates… and/or to purchase the book.