Monday, June 29, 2009

14 Reasons to Write and Send Media Releases

14 Reasons to Write and Send Media Releases

Why Media Releases Work

Many small businesses have limited budgets when it comes to marketing and public relations. If your budget forces you to choose between spending your dollars on advertising vs. spending them on public relations, a good PR person will get you more bang for your buck every time.

The job of a PR firm is to get you face time in the media, whether in the form of an article in the local paper or a spot on a national news program. Which do you think carries more weight with readers and viewers? An ad they know you paid for, or a third-party story about you, your company, or your event?

QUESTION: Do you have to hire a PR firm to get your media release noticed?

ANSWER: It’s a good idea — but it’s not always necessary.

It is possible to have your story picked up from a media release you write yourself. A well written media release, put in front of the right editor or news programmer at the right time, can generate a story — regardless of whether you hire a PR person to write it for you, or you write it yourself.

So What's Newsworthy About Your Business??

Find something newsworthy about your business or organization. Some PR newsletters suggest sending out a minimum of one media release per week, the idea being to get your name in front of the people who can help you, and keep it there.

There’s a fine line, though, between being persistent and being a pest. Make sure you don't cross it.

Here are 14 reasons to write and send media releases. These aren't the most creative ideas and won't necessarily get you a big story, but they may get you a mention in the "Movers & Shakers" column for your community paper or Web site. The other thing they will do is keep your name in front of the reporters/editors you want to remember you. And if you get creative, you may find ways to make these routine notices newsworthy!

1. You have a new branch or location. Promote the newsy angle here — why is your location unusual, helpful, or noteworthy?

2. You are offering a seasonal product/service. In the real estate industry, this could be related to graduation, wedding season, summer or winter visitors, new school years/semesters, etc.

3. You can tie your product/service to a popular trend. I will write more about this in a future post — but follow what's going on in the news or pop culture and tie some aspect of your business to it.

4. You’ve added exciting new staff members — or landed a highly sought-after board member.

5. You’ve established a new partnership. Put on your thinking cap to get creative and start brainstorming ideas about good JV (joint venture) partners for your side of the real estate business — and then tell the media!

6. You've secured a distinguished new client. Depending on the client's preference, you may need to tread cautiously here, but most people appreciate being appreciated. If you can help promote your client while simultaneously getting some media attention for yourself, go for it!

7. You or one of your staff receives an award or promotion. If you haven't received an award in a while (or ever), self-nominate, or ask a friend to nominate you! Get out there and blow your own horn — and then tell the media!

8. You or one of your staff has been acknowledged for a significant achievement. This does not have to be business-related! It could be a civic, religious, political, or other recognition. Yes, you might want to tread lightly where politics is concerned, but I have my own thoughts on that one. (Perhaps yet another blog to come!)

9. You have a specific event to promote. OK — we established in my last post that a networking event does not really count as an event, at least not as a newsworthy event. UNLESS you do something really special and creative with it. Dust off that thinking cap — I know you've got it in you!

10. You’ve exceeded your quarterly or annual financial goals. This one probably isn't going to work unless they were noteworthy goals in the first place; it will be even better if you had media about the goals in the first place. But let's say you thought you'd sell 10 houses by midyear, but you're on track to sell 40. That might just be newsworthy.

11. You are sponsoring or participating in a community service event. This is a great place to get involved and get noticed! Find the organizations that speak to your heart, and make time for them. Then, tell the media! They will love you for the publicity, and you'll be helping your own business at the same time.

12. You are partnering with a charity or community organization to create opportunities for the less fortunate. The possibiltities for this suggestion are only limited by your imagination.

13. You are sponsoring a networking event. Maybe you host a midnight wine tasting at your favorite chi-chi wine bar and invite everyone in your networking circle or leads group ... or take the opportunity to reach out to neighboring businesses. Admit it — there are a lot of us who do our best work at midnight and would be raring to mix and mingle if we just had the opportunity!

14. You’ve donated money, goods, services, or volunteer time to a nonprofit organization. Take care not to make this sound self-serving. Promote the nonprofit organization first and foremost. Inlcude why and how you became involved, but do not make yourself the focus of this release.

For answers to your questions about writing, editing, marketing, or design e-mail Laura or visit Write | Market | Design, where we specialize in teaching our writers to think like marketers!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Want the Media to Cover Your Stories? Pick Up the Phone!

Want the Media to Cover Your Stories? Pick Up the Phone!

Back in January, when that US Airways plane ended up in the Hudson River, the local news here in Phoenix didn't initially learn about the incident through the newswire, but rather from a US Airways employee stationed at Sky Harbor Airport. He saw it on an internal company communication feed - right before the internal feed was turned off - and called the local media to alert them to the situation. Would they have eventually learned of the situation? Of course - but they were able to get a jump on the story because of one alert individual who wasn't afraid to pick up the phone and call them.

How does this relate to you and your real estate business? Well, if you've ever wondered what was the best way to get a reporter to cover your story - this is the answer. Pick up the phone!

Many - if not most - people have the mistaken belief that the media are inaccessible. Not true! The media - print, radio, television, and Internet - need content! And where do they get the vast majority of that content? From the public . . . meaning people just like you.

Now, there is a trick to it, and that is that it is vital that you have something newsworthy for them.

Calling them up to ask them to report on your next networking event is virtually assured to get you nowhere . . . unless there is something spectacular about the networking event. Someone famous is your keynote presenter. Octomom's next door neighbor will be a featured guest. All the proceeds will benefit a charity and you're charging $250 a plate. You get the idea. A standard-fare chicken caesar luncheon is a big snooze to reporters looking for an interesting angle.

Chances are good, though, that you DO have something newsworthy for the media to report on. Or, you can create something newsworthy.

For example, what if you were to stage an old-fashioned street fair in an exciting new area of town? Get a local celebrity to come join you as the featured "dunk tank" guest and MC. Collect nonperishables for a local foodbank, or have vendors contribute money to a local charity.

Do you think something like that would be newsworthy? Perhaps more so in some populations than others. But in the right area, you could actually get a LOT of PR out of a simple event like this, particularly if it occurred on a slow news day.

As my friend and Phoenix PR maven, Eileen Proctor, always says, "Don't do things to get press. But if you do things, get press!"

Whatever you're doing in your business, find the interesting angle. Then, go for it! Pick up the phone and call the media. Write a fantastic news release with a sharp hook and send it to everyone. And then, be well-prepared when they call to follow up.


For answers to your questions about writing, editing, marketing, or design e-mail Laura or visit Write |
Market | Design, where we specialize in teaching our writers to think like marketers!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

To Comma or Not to Comma, That Is the Question

To Comma or Not to Comma, That Is the Question

Last weekend, I was chatting with a Toastmasters friend who happens to be a Realtor. She's a very interesting woman who's had a colorful professional life. We were talking at a party, and she told me about a man she had worked for who refused to use commas ANYWHERE in his writing because he believed they could cause readers to misconstrue his meaning. My response to her was that your writing can just as easily be misconstrued without commas.

I learned this in a technical writing class almost 20 years ago. An actual lawsuit was filed over the distribution of money in a will because the will stated that the money would be shared evenly between "Jim, Jan and Carol" as opposed to "Jim, Jan, and Carol." As a result, Jim got half, and Jan and Carol split the other half.

Whether or not to use that comma before the and/but is an old debate, but this example settled it for me. Journalistic writing that follows the AP Style Manual still omits that comma – and loses clarity, in my opinion. When I'm editing for AP style, I adhere to the "no comma before the and/but" rule. In all other writing, I use it.

What does this have to do with YOUR business? Nothing – unless you want your docs to be clear and easy to understand!

Suggested reading on commas: Commas Are Our Friends, by Joe Devine.


For answers to your questions about writing, editing, marketing, or design e-mail Laura or visit Write |
Market | Design, where we specialize in teaching our writers to think like marketers!