Thursday, December 5, 2013

Make Your News Releases Count!

So ..... you plan to put out a News Release to try to get some free PR for your business. Do you know what makes your information "special" enough to keep it out of the trash? The prime thing to remember is the phrase, "VIVA LA DIFFERENCE." You need to dazzle a journalist (online or off line) with what makes YOU and YOUR BUSINESS different from thousands of others that he/she could write about.

Make sure you call attention to yourself in a way that catches their eye first, then holds their attention long enough for them to realize that there may be a story in it for them. And you only have about the time it takes for them to read the first paragraph.

While you want to appear professional and organized, writing a news release that says "professional and organized" isn't going to get you any publicity -- lots of businesses are professional and organized. What's new and different about you? What makes YOU 21st century . . . ahead of the pack? What's going on in your industry right now that you can take advantage of and use to get some publicity? Can you add humor or "tips" to make it newsworthy and give it pizzazz or purpose?

Also, don't overuse PR. Nothing turns off reporters more than the person who clutters their desk with a new release every week. Wait for the opportune time, which by the way, is NOT to announce the launching of your new web site. That was news a decade or more ago. Now it's routine in the business world, even if it is a new concept for you. Things that may work for you: a seasonal message that you can impart (news release in the guise of an article); a major change of some sort in your company focus or administration; development of a unique, new product and how it will benefit the consumer; expanded services that make you stand out from the crowd in your industry; volunteerism -- "local company volunteers to paint home for elderly hurricane victim" -- something that makes it "NEWS" as opposed to "looking for a free ad".

We're all looking for free advertising and reporters know that. But remember, newspapers and magazines (even the modern online variety) aren't in business to give away advertising. These publications exist on paid advertising fees. So when we "push it" by being obvious in our attempt to get free ads, they lose interest and may actually decide that you have nothing at all to say that they want to hear -- ever. That's when your releases start to the hit the trash almost before they get out of the envelope (or the email).

My final suggestion: don't put all your eggs in the News Release basket. There are many effective ways of calling attention to your business. How can I write releases for my clients when I feel that way? Because sometimes they can work very, very well. But it's a rare instance when a News Release captures the elusive heart of an editor. So if you're going to use them, use them with discretion and objectivity, and make every word count.

--- © Carol Daly Auclair (reprinted with permission) 

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