IT YOURSELF PR
Fundamentals of Media Marketing
by Jeff Richards
Forty-Five Reasons to Send a News Release
"It is not uncommon for one well done press release that
is properly executed, delivered and timely followed up to 10-20 news sources to yield 2-3 feature stories."
even the local ones, can receive hundreds of Press Releases and PR kits a day and national sources can receive thousands
of requests each month. The competition is fierce, but that should not deter you from this great, low-cost marketing
strategy. If your press release or kit is opened at all, at most, you have two to three seconds to capture
the attention of the reader and convince them that your story would interest their audience.
Even for a small business in
a small town, there are often ten to twenty media sources that might be interested in featuring your story. And whether
you are a home-based business or a large company, there are media opportunities available that far outweigh the cost
and results you can get from traditional advertising.
So the question is ...how would you do this? Follow these simple steps and your company success rate will increase dramatically:
- Customize the release to each individual media source either by editing each release, changing the headline or by adding a short note or letter that offers
compelling reasons why their audience will want to hear about your story. Get familiar with the news source before you
begin, so you really know what type of stories interest them.
- Spend the most amount of time
on your title and first paragraph of the release, 2-3 seconds
is all you have to capture the reader's attention and convince them that your story is worth pursuing. Many news
releases that are accepted are often never fully read, only skimmed.
- Format your news release
as news. Never use bullets or do anything that would
be similar to advertising copy.
- Spell check the document and have friends proof read it an provide you with input.
for a feature story with every release. A feature
story will often involve phone or in-person interviews and either photos by the news source's photographer or use of photos
that you provided. Feature stories can often wind up with teasers on the front page of a newspaper or magazine and in
when in print, often exceed one page and have multiple photographs. Sometimes small newspapers or trade magazines will
take your story and photos and use the story word for word, but in most cases there is at least some editing.
- Keep your release with your contact information on one page and do not use any unusual fonts. Times New Roman, Arial or Garamond are the best fonts to use, size 11.
Bold your headline.
- Centered at the
top of the page of your release include, The current date,
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE or FOR RELEASE on (The Specific Date) and For More information, contact (full name of the person) and
include a business phone, cell phone, email address and a website if there is one. Provide the link for an Online Press
Kit if you have created one.
- End your Release with this symbol centered at the bottom: #
- Make it easy to be contacted. At the top of the page, include every source point of contact possible
such as full name, cell phone, business phone, email address and a website if you have one.
Release Lead Times. Allow at least a three-four
week lead time for most releases to newspapers, radio and television unless you have real media-stopping breaking news.
Allow up to three months lead time for trade magazines and six months to a year for national magazines. Not paying attention
to lead times and expecting your story to be accepted with enthusiasm is not realistic, it just puts a strain on the news
department and team who are often overworked and understaffed. Use the FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Title if your story is
good to use now or anytime, otherwise date the release at least to the month that will be the most applicable.
- Research the best contact to send your release to for every media source. Do this by calling and asking, researching their website and also comply with any press release guidelines that are posted on their website.
your release by mail, fax and email unless the media source directs you to do otherwise.
- Hand address your press release package and minimally use a large, professional
business envelope rather than folding your release and sending
it in a number 10 envelope. Clearly include the person's name and department. If you send a cover letter,
keep it short and to the point, just a few sentences on why their readers, viewers or listeners would have interest in your
- More mail gets opened on Tuesday, Wednesdays or Thursdays
than does on Monday or Friday. Keep this in mind when mailing, emailing or faxing your release.
the most attention can be received by using Federal Express to overnight your package to the media contact, but of course you will need a larger budget to do this.
Photos that Stir Emotion are the only photos that should
be sent with your mail package. You don't need a professional photographer to take them, just planning ahead
and use of your imagination. Send a minimum size of 5x7 quality photos in both black and white and color.
One to two good photos will suffice.
- When sending your release by email, do not attach your
photos, in fact
it is better not to send any email attachments. Instead direct the media source to a web link where
both web and print quality photos can be downloaded. The same with your release. Format a version for email because
media contacts are leery of opening attachments of any sort from people they do not know. You may also want to provide
a complete online media kit, one page that will include your release, and photos and provide links to download each.
- Follow up by phone and email 24-48 hours after you know the release has been received. Get used to hearing that the media contact never saw it and cheerfully
send another and follow up promptly as well. Leave short cheery messages when you call and be prepared to call once
everyday for a week if necessary to reach the contact directly. TIP: Ask the operator when a good time to catch
them directly might be!
- Always respect the news media's guidelines, news deadlines, and anything they
request of you. If the deadline for getting their
magazine out is on the first Tuesday of each month, do not call on that day. If the contact tells you he/she is not
interested, do not keep calling about the same release. If they ask you to email photos or provide any additional
information, get it to them almost immediately. Be cooperative and friendly and often you will be thanked for providing
the story idea!
- Never indicate that you are sending your release to any other media contact, but if asked and no one else has yet shown interest, be honest about it, but
compelling in why your story fits their audience.
Frequently Asked Questions About PR
What if the time
is expended for a successful release and there are no immediate results?
Even when you receive no response
from your release or communication attempts, often your release will help to identify you or your business as an expert in
your field and your release may be filed for future contact So your efforts are never wasted.
How often should our company
send out press releases?
Even the smallest home-based business
usually has creative opportunities to send out news releases that would be welcomed at least once per quarter.