Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Share a Compelling Story in Your News Releases

Share a Compelling Story in Your News Releases

Have you ever sent a news release and had no response? Zero. Zip. Nada. It happens a lot - and for a variety of reasons.

Things like:
  • The media release is boring.
  • There's no hook in the headline, so the reporter/editor/producer tosses it before he finds out you landed a Sarah Palin as the MC for your charity event. (She's out of work right now - might not be such a difficult thing to do, now that I think of it.)
  • You spelled their name wrong.
  • You sent it to the wrong reporter/editor/producer.
  • You forgot to include your contact information. (Yes, this really happens - a LOT!)
  • Your release is single-spaced, in 9 point type, and goes on for 3 pages.
But it's that first one that is probably the biggest reason releases get tossed into the recycle bin. If the release is boring, you are not giving the reporter/editor/producer anything creative to work with. It's your JOB to paint a word picture that inspires them to see the newsworthiness of your story.

I had a marvelous testimonial from a guy who took this advice to heart - and scored stories in SEVEN local newspapers.

I was privileged to attend a class at a networking event where Laura taught us how to do a News Release. I was new in my field and had only a few clients at the time, but one of them had a very moving story. I wrote out the story and Laura assisted me with editing and coached me in techniques that would make it more attractive to the print media and readers. After that, she provided me a list of contacts and I sent the News Release to them. I was amazed that 7 local publications returned my calls and e-mails and asked permission to print the story! Laura's talent as an editor and coach really paid off!
- Doug Hibbard, Mortgage Broker with Great Southwest Mortgage
So do I share this story with you to show off? Well, it is always nice to have people validate that what you're teaching them really works. But no, that's not the point here. The point is that this man who was new to his industry and had NEVER written a media release before was able to get SEVEN local publications to pick up his story. This was back before the housing market collapsed - the story was about a couple with a sick child who were having a hard time qualifying for a home. Doug's patient persistence paid off and they were able to move into a home near their child's treatment center.

Is it the most newsworthy story ever? No. But it's a good human interest story, and we were able to give it the precise tone to entice these reporters to cover it.

If Doug can do it, so can you! Start by finding the heart of your story. What's "real" about it? What will make the readers/viewers form an emotional attachment to your subject? Make it personal without making it about you. Don't get discouraged if your first news release is not picked up. Keep trying. But look for the stories that move you. Reporters/editors/producers are people ... if the story moves you, it might also move them.

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!

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