profitable and often overlooked free publicity generator is the news release.
News releases are not only great marketing tools but also far more credible and
believable than advertising since they appear to come from an objective third
party. All too often, however, business owners view news releases as a form of
advertising. If you're guilty of this, the media will most likely tell you that
you should have called the advertising department instead.
The media are
constantly on the lookout for good stories that are of interest to their
audience. Reporters, writers, and particularly editors also have a particular
interest in reporting on stories that help to enhance sponsorship interest in
the medium that they represent. So, what makes a good story? While the answer to
such a subjective question can be difficult, here are a few pointers in order to
guide you in writing and targeting your news releases.
More often than not, reporters like stories that are related to a current
event or issue, or those that have emotional appeal. They also like stories that
appeal to a wide audience, which is particularly true for the larger media.
Targeted or specialized media, on the other hand, love to report on stories that
appeal to their specific market and in turn help to capture more of it.
news release should "tickle" reporters. In other words, it should provide enough
information to generate interest but just enough to incite them to want to know
more. In doing so, it is only logical that it must provide good contact
information if they wish to follow-up. (You would be amazed to know how many
news releases fail to mention even the simplest of things, like a phone number
or a contact name.) It must give all of the relevant data (i.e., phone numbers,
email addresses, physical addresses, contact name, dates, references,
More important, your news release must be devoid of any conspicuous
fluff. Remember that a reporter is not just a middleperson whose job is to
report your story for you. Keep in mind that your release must sell the reporter
on your story as well. Therefore, write it to read like a story. Look at it from
the reporter's perspective. In other words, write the story for
News releases are often used as excellent business tools. They can
announce important company changes, new recruits or appointments within the
organization, recently or soon-to-be launched products or services, and so on.
There are many more ways that new releases may be used, including identity
branding or pre-empting negative publicity. In short, it could be anything new
-- hence, the preference of the word "news release" over "press
Being the first in some way is
an effective tool that can also help spark more interest in your news release.
If you can support the fact that your firm is the first to provide a certain
product or service, that your product or service is the first in its category,
that you're the first to provide an ordinary product or service in a unique way,
or that your event is the first or the largest in its category, you can and
should use that information in your news release.
A company claiming to
be the best is certainly not a news item. But a company claiming to be the first
in some way is. Capitalize on that leadership when approaching the media. Try to
sell your story in a different way, possibly with a new angle or twist. Adding
your unique experience, even blending your story with a current news item or
issue, will up your chances.
For example, someone sends out a news
release in which he announces the opening of his new company. Sounds like a
trivial story? It's not if that person suffers from a disability. In other
words, bring your unique angle into your news release. Give it a human feel. The
key is to capture the reporter's interest. It must appeal to him or her and not
just the marketplace.
For a great example of an effective news
release, see one developed by Leslie Spencer at http://www.bizine.com/prhbwm.htm. She sells memberships in her company called
"Home-Based Working Moms," which is a business offering information and
resources for home-based businesses run specifically by mothers. Her goal was to
get exposure to, and to increase memberships of, a specific target market. (By
catering to a specific niche, Leslie also follows the first rule.)
wrote an excellent release that successfully blended the benefits of her
business with a current and important social issue: The challenges faced by
work-at-home mothers. Her news release, entitled "The New Entrepreneur: Shorts,
Shirt and... a Stroller? Moms Find Ways to Combine Career with Children,"
provides the media with a great story to tell.
Remember that the media
get thousands of releases each day. Therefore, being unique or having a unique
story to tell is what can often captivate their attention. For example, if your
release is about an event, then how different, unique, or special is your event
when compared to any other? Think of it this way: If you were a reporter and had
your release in your hands while at the same time there is another interesting
story on which you could report, what would cause you to choose your story above
the other? The answer is by being different.
Finally, targeting the media is just as important as targeting your
audience let alone your market. Special features writers, columnists, radio show
hosts, special interest publications, and specific programs are particularly
beneficial for two reasons. First, targeting your release to specific reporters,
news anchors, or programs (instead of the newsroom or media entity) increases
your chances. While it may require a little investigating, remember that the
media are made up of people. They like the personalized approach just as much as
your clients do.
Second, targeting your news release is more effective
for the purposes of marketing since it will be reported in a medium that caters
to your specific target market. Ask: "Where does my niche or target market hang
out? What publications do they read? What shows do they watch? What radio
programs do they prefer?" Your hit ratio will thus increase
Based on a previous article, you know that targeting
your release is just as important as market targeting (http://SuccessDoctor.com/article5.htm). The
media love to report on stories that inform or affect their specific audience.
And if that audience matches your own, you'll know that your story will be
noticed by people that are in a more qualified position to buy from you. The
more focused you are the greater the outcome you will achieve.