When most small business think Public Relations (PR), they think expense and that media coverage is somewhat easily achieved. Whilst most media coverage takes a lot of work behind the scenes, especially developing relationships with journalists, no-one can expect media coverage without doing a little bit of hard work.
The benefit of using the media as a marketing tool is that it is often seen as an endorsement by the newspaper or publication - and that far outweighs the benefit of advertising. By identifying stories and making regular press announcements about news within your industry or your company, you can raise the profile of your business and create a unique point of difference from your direct competition.
Most PR companies can help you get announcements to the press. After all, when you work with a PR firm you are paying for their skill in communicating your message and also their existing media relationships.
If you choose to go it alone, you can increase your chances of getting press coverage by following these simple guidelines.
It’s important that you:
-Always write your press releases on headed paper, with your logo at the top, the current date and the words Media Release (or similar) listed near your logo.
-Ensure that a contact name is put at the end of the media release, just in case a journalist wants to get hold of you for more information.
-Include a succinct explanation about your company and its activities. Limit the propaganda and stick to the facts.
-Keep the release short and punchy. Keep promotional content and jargon to a minimum. If possible, keep the release to a page in length.
-Send the release to the right journalist. You are selling your company and your brand, so don’t waste their time and yours by sending press releases to the wrong people.
-After you’ve written the media release, check, check and check again. Try to get someone different to look at it. Ask yourself Who, What, Why, When, How and check to see that nothing has been omitted.
-Don’t send attachments. Journalists are busy people, they are on deadline constantly and receiving large files which take a while to download is likely to get you in the bad books.
Sending out meaningless releases that are not considered newsworthy will waste time, likewise is calling a journalist to see if they are running your story. And remember, never talk ‘off the record’ – the phrase simply doesn’t exist.
Stuart Evans is a professional copywriter, PR practitioner and freelance journalist. He runs Vibe Communications, a communication consultancy specialising in helping small to medium sized business.