Tailor stories accordingly. Read the press in which you want coverage.
Reseller titles want a different angle than the end user press. Get the
advanced feature lists of your key titles, find out who is writing relevant
articles and find out what sort of information they need for their deadlines.
Build up a database of freelancers, as well as staff writers. Update it
frequently. Journalist change jobs regularly. Writing to a previous incumbent
is counter productive. Spell people's names correctly.
in quality photography
Don't rely on someone's Box Brownie or passport photos. A few hundred
pounds spent on decent photos can help secure thousands of pounds worth
of editorial coverage. Avoid clichˇs like "Two men in suits shaking hands".
sure your stories are interesting
Be controversial and provocative. The bits that the CEO will want
to delete are the bits journalists will want to print. For every press
release that gets reported, ninety-nine are spiked. Look at issues from
a third party perspective. If your story was about one of your rivals
or a company you had never even heard of, ask yourself if you would be
interested in it? If not bin it and start again.
Especially between 6pm and 7pm - journalists are rarely at their desk
before 10.30am and work late. Editors are always up against impossible
deadlines - an hour's time might be too late. Never lie. Never say - 'no
comment'. If the press unearths some bad news, prepare your own line on
the matter in a positive manner as possible and stick to it. If this is
all you say, that's all they can print. 'No comment' implies everything
that is written is true as does 'Unavailable for comment'. Nothing is
ever off-the-record, but journalists protect their sources of confidential
up a rapport with key journalists
Be natural. Don't put on an artificial corporate hat. If you are a
nice person editors will probably like you. If you are not a nice person
appoint a spokesperson who is. Don't bore journalists to death with a
sales pitch. Offer opinion on an industry wide basis, rather than blatantly
plugging your own company and its wares. Feed contacts with gossip and
scandal. News is what someone else doesn't want printed. Being seen as
an authoritative voice will confer premium status on your company and
its products or services by inference. Meet them for drinks at exhibitions.
Buy journalists lunch - come to London, journalists are like cheap wine
they don't travel well. Ask them if they would like to attend your corporate
hospitality events. If a journalist asks for a piece of kit let them have
it on extended review or give it away as a reader competition prize.
expect celebrity overnight
Today's coverage is often a result of relationships and effort going
back many months, maybe even years. Persevere, it's worth it. PR costs
a lot less than paid for advertising. Impartial third party endorsement
is a lot more powerful than a biased paid for message.
even think about holding a press conference
Unless you are a major player and have the announcement of the decade.
Even then hold it in Monaco or the Caribbean. Hold one-to-ones, or meet
several relevant journalists from different magazines from the same publishing
company with a single hit.
offer advertising as an inducement
Or its withdrawal as a threat. You can't buy editorial in publications
worth being in. Market leading companies with good products tend to get
written about because they are news worthy and are serious about their
PR. They are probably major advertisers too. They haven't bought their
coverage. Don't get paranoid and don't take umbrage if you don't like
what is written about you, unless it is libellous. Journalists aren't
there to plug your company. And they sometimes get things wrong. Perhaps
you didn't explain yourself clearly. If something is seriously amiss speak
to them and send a letter.
press releases as if you were writing for a tabloid
Rather than spec sheet. Use the classic 'pyramid' style of writing. Sub
editors should be able to cut from the bottom, without losing key material.
Say everything in the headline, say everything but with more detail in
the opening paragraph. Put the most important information first; flesh
out the story with some facts and quotable comment. Omit cliches, like
'market leading' and 'we are very please to be working with'. Include
background information under 'Editors' Notes'. Have pricing and availability
details at the end. Finally, list contact details. Get a sceptic, rather
than a sycophant, to read it for interest level. Print the release on
to your letterhead or get news release paper specially printed.
a third party to 'leak' important 'confidential' information
About your company in advance of a general announcement - a journalist
will then assume s/he has stolen a march on his/her competitors, making
the story more appealing.
call a journalist on press day
Unless you have news of earth shattering importance. Never call to ask
if a release has arrived. Call with an 'update' or 'development' or the
offer of a photo or review unit. If you1ve got something really hot, call
and "sell" the story. Offer key journalists an exclusive ahead of the
story being issued to their rivals.
Monthly titles are often writing for titles for three months hence. If
you are launching a new product at an exhibition in the middle of October,
a monthly magazine will probably want information in July for the show
and pre-show coverage. But hold on to information aimed at weeklies or
dailies until nearer the event. Post hard copies of press releases - don't
fax them, unless asked to do so. Journalists hate faxes unless it's truly
a front-page lead. Some journalists don't like emails others insist upon
them. Find out which category they fall into and act accordingly.
ignore local media
Often the local press are desperate for stories other than church fetes
and school jumble sales. If you raise money for charity or a local good
cause try to get a local celebrity or MP to hand over the cheque. Look
for a good photo opportunity: an unusual location, the opportunity to
wear builders overalls, uniform, or hat. If you have raised money to improve
a school sports field, repainting a school cricket sight screen, have
a photo of the MD with brush in hand, rather than handing over a cheque
to the headteacher.
forget local radio and TV stations
Which outside London often struggle for good material.
your PR work for you
Today's news is not tomorrow's chip paper. Use reprints for direct mailings
When you are featured in the press, tell your customers, and send them
copies. Use your quotes in advertising and below-the-line marketing material.
Even judiciously edited snippets from awful play reviews get quoted outside
a press cuttings service
They're not expensive. There's no point in getting the coverage if you
can't see it. Make your sales staff aware of the coverage and get them
to monitor sales leads just as they would to your advertising. Keep a
press cuttings file in reception.
letters to editors of titles that carry letters pages
Few people do. Send brief career histories and a photo of all new
staff to publications that carry a new appointments page. Small regular
exposure implies that your organisation is in the ascendancy, with their
former employer moving in the opposite direction.
are the single most cause of column inches
You don't have to commission Gallup or Mori. Editors' want interesting
findings, not details of your quantitative methods. Statistics can be
cleaned from a variety of sources including your telesales team call sheets,
customer mail shots, even your accounts department.
speakers available for seminars
A nd the platforms that are often available at conferences and exhibitions.
you haven't got time to do the above yourself
H ire a decent PR agency. They're cheaper than you think. Offer them an
annual contract after an initial three-month probationary period. Remember
that you are on probation as well as the agency. A PR campaign will probably
cost a lot less each month than a single page of advertising. If you hire
someone to do PR in-house, budget for the assistant that they will want
to hire within 3 to 6 months.
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