St John's Communications: Media Releases and how to get publicity

by Norman Greenfield
Provoco Status Quo

In the old days a press release was one of the primary ways you communicated the news about your company to the media and through to your potential and current stakeholders. Today it is but one of the ways to communicate with reporters, editors, and producers who are all hungry for news.

With the advent of the internet, and the fractious nature of our media the problem for public relations practitioners, is how to get the message across to the reporters, editors, and producers and why it is a story.

With the decrease in staff at the television, radio or newspaper newsroom the media release, press release, or media advisory is now the main source they depend on for both cut and paste news and tips on new and unusual products, company trends, tips and hints, and other developments.

Much of what you read in newspapers, magazines, or trade publications, hear on the radio or see on television originated in a press release form.

Much of what you send out will be among as many as several hundred press releases each week.

The vast majority of which end up getting filed in the round filing cabinet.

Make sure the press release is news worthy.

Use these 10 tips to write a release that will get noticed.

  1. Use an active headline to grab the reporter's attention - in e-mail subject line and press release
  2. Be active and to the point - Editors are not engineers, 'insiders,' or get inside jokes.
  3. Put the most important information at the beginning - Answer the five or six W's here
    • What
    • Where
    • When
    • How
    • Why
    • Who
  4. Avoid hype and unsubstantiated claims - Editors have seen it all, heard it all, and read it all and have incredible BS detectors
  5. Keep your release to one page
  6. Include a live contact - Make sure this person can answer all questions, arrange interviews, and photo ops.
    The person doing the interview should not be on the inside of the issue, but must be literate, a clear speaker, and able to boil the issue or idea down to about 8 to 10 second sound bites.

  7. Keep lingo to the minimum - Buzzisms Kill!
  8. Stress benefits - "Why do people need to know this?"
  9. Be specific and detailed - But concise
  10. Proofread, Proofread, Proofread

Publisher's note: Norm Greenfield passed away in 2007.

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