Most of what you read, hear or see in the business or features sections of the media is provided by companies, not written by journalists. Although a good Public Relations Agency is worth their weight in gold if you have the need and the budget, it is quite possible, as the owner of a small company, to do your own PR without employing someone else.
Writing a news release is a relatively low-cost marketing option which mainly involves your time and perhaps the investment in a professional picture. As many small companies will not have a PR strategy writing regular news releases could give you that competitive advantage.
Why you Need good Media Coverage
If it is done well, PR can raise awareness of your company through positive media coverage and editorial endorsements which are more believable then advertising or sales brochures. Media coverage can be via the radio or online platforms as well as in newspapers and magazines.
Creating favourable coverage for your company enables you to present a positive image and influence public opinion in your favour both of which increases your credibility, customer touch points and ultimately sales.
However, remember that everything published (apart from advertorial – paid for editorial) is subject to either editing, interpretation or investigation by a journalist or editor. So it is not for direct selling, free advertising or creating a false image, it is about creating a favourable impression, indirect sales, improving relationships, image and reputations. In the end it does have to be news worthy.
If you want your story to get noticed, there are lots of tricks of the trade to ensure your news goes into the media and not in the bin. Here are my golden rules
Golden Rules for Writing a Great News Release
Invest the Time – and the energy in carrying out your plan it will pay dividends! It probably needs a couple of hours, twice a week to plan, write and circulate your news releases.
Be persistent – if you don’t succeed with your first release, keep trying. Change the angle, talk to the media and see what they want. Send regular releases to keep the awareness up you might even be asked to provide a comment on a topical news item because the journalist knows who you are and what you do.
Be creative – think outside the box, everyone wants to report something new or different.
Copy other people’s ideas – If you can’t be creative, take a look at other companies, particularly those outside your industry or location – after all imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!
Research your audience and media – keep your eyes and ears open, targeting and amending your releases for each audience or publication makes it more likely to be published then a mass mailing to a generic audience.
Drop the hype – don’t write an advertisement, think about what would interest the reader or listener, develop your story and spark people’s interest to follow your story up
Grab the attention – whether through your headline, a great first paragraph or with an eye-catching picture. Find a hook or angle to draw people in to read and act on your message.
Follow the rules – a professional press release has structure and key elements that make it easier for a journalist to extract information. The easier it is for the journalist the more successful it is for you. For example, write it in the third party, use short sentences and paragraphs, include a quote and contact information at the end.
Write, re-write, check and re-check – as you become more proficient writing for the media will become easier.
Develop your media relationships – talk to them, invite them to events, or just start an email dialogue with them, they are only human but don’t harass or hound them as they are always busy!
Don’t just report the news -make the news! – become an ‘expert’, offer free advice, give presentations, sponsor an award or competition, get your name out there.
Present your News – make sure you add it to your website, display articles and press cuttings in your reception area or office and in sales presentations. Regular news makes your company look dynamic. Create that buzz!
Public Relations can be a very cost-effective way of spending your time and it should form a part of your wider marketing mix. Remember, regular news releases are better than piles of out of date printed literature in your cupboard!
If you need help in crafting a great news release, get in touch! Kim@connect-consultancy.co.uk