Publicity is NOT About Press Releases!

Publicity is NOT About Press Releases!

In dealing with clients and the public regarding their perception of public relations, we are continuously
amazed that people time and again equivocate publicity with press releases. In other words, write a
press release, send it out and – poof! – you'll magically get publicity.

Well, we're here to tell you that, despite what you've heard, that could not be further from the
truth.

Sending out press releases is not the first step in obtaining meaningful media coverage of your product, service or business.

It's not that there's never a place for them. There is. Every once in a while. If you have
a huge announcement to make. Or an event you want to get a listing for.

So, why are not press releases the publicace panacea you might have thought they were?

First, reporters and editors are flooded with press releases. Some of them receive hundreds of press releases every day, most of which are self-serving and completely un-newsworthy.

For media, press releases have become the equivalent of junk mail. They just do not have the
time to sift through all of the press releases that they receive every day. So, what do they do? They
ignore them or hit the delete button without even bothering to read the content.

Second, most newsrooms have cut their bills way back. As a result they are extremely short
staffed, and what staff they do have is strictly underpaid and overworked.

That's good news for PR people and others who knows how to help these individuals, because it
means they are looking for ways to make their lives easier, and that they are open to solid story leads. But it also means that, once again, they do not have time to sift through a bunch of press releases that flood their in-boxes on a daily basis. They are doing the jobs of two – and sometimes three – people, and they are extremely stressed out. They want ideas that will make their lives easier, not junk mail that takes up a lot of their time and offers them little or no substance.

Now that we understand a bit more about just why press releases are not the way to entice
the media to cover your product, service, or business, let's talk about some strategies that
will interest them. If you follow these ideas you will be sure to win friends in the media and
garner positive coverage for yourself in the process. Here they are:

1. Offer yourself as an expert source to reporters covering your industry.

Reporters are always looking for experts that they can contact for quotes in articles. Offering yourself as
an expert source on your industry is a great way to form a relationship with reporters, show them that
you are responsive and knowledgeable, and get yourself media coverage. Being quoted as an expert
source will go a long way toward establishing you as an expert in your industry, a leader in your field, and ahead of your competition in knowledge and expertise. It's also a great way to get to know
reporters and to show them that you are available to help them when they need it. Once you establish
this type of positive rapport, it might even open the door to your suggesting other story ideas to these
same reporters – ideas that, of course, highlight your company and result in even more in-depth
coverage.

How do you offer yourself as an expert source? All you have to do is read your local papers
(or trade publications covering your industry, or even national publications) and find out who is writing
about your industry.

Next, write up a short bio on yourself, highlighting your experience in your industry, your
areas of expertise, and issues you are available to comment on.

Then, e-mail or mail this information to the reporters with a short letter introducing yourself,
saying that you have noticed that they often cover your industry, and offering yourself as an expert
source.

You might even follow up with a telephone call a few days after you send this e-mail. But be sure
that you never begin a conversation with, "I just wanted to make sure you received my e-mail …."
There is no surer way to make a reporter groan.

Instead, tell them that you have noticed that they often write about your industry, and that you
would like to help them by being a readily available expert source that they can contact for
commentary. Let them know that you have sent them a bio on yourself and offer to re-send it in case
they never received it (this will get them off the hook in case they can not find it or accidently deleted
it).

Once you offer yourself as an expert source, be sure that you are readily available to answer
questions and provide commentary on a moment's notice. Reporters work on tight deadlines, and
offering to be of service to the media will only backfire if you do not follow through on your promise
to provide timely commentary to fit their needs and suit their deadlines. You want to gain the reputation as being a valuable resource to the media, and you will only gain this reputation by being available and responsive. The last thing you want to do is to offer your expertise and then be hard to reach, take a long time returning phone calls, etc.

2. Offer expert advice in the form of by-lined articles.

As I mentioned above, many media outlets are so short-staffed, and their reporters and editors are
stretched so thin, that they do not have time to write all of their own content. So, what do they do to fill
the pages of their newspapers and magazines? They turn to "expert sources" (there's that term again) to provide content in the form of by-lined articles.

So, just how can you increase your chances of getting your-lined article published?

First, identify a common problem or issue related to your field of expertise. A good place to begin is with common questions that you are asked by your clients.

Once you have established the "problem," figure out what information you can give to help solve it.

Once you have identified a topic and you have your readers' "problem" and your "solution," you are all set to write your article.

But before you do, it is important that you remember a few things:

o Do not use "jargon."

Every industry has it's own "language" that's commonly understood by insiders but often completely alien to outsiders. If you use jargon in your articles you will only serve to frustrate your readers rather than helping them. Rather than coming across as an expert, you run the risk of appearing out of touch with your readers. And chances are you will not be invited to contribute to repeat articles to the same publication.

o Use sub-headings and bullet points where appropriate.

Sub-headings, which serve to identify the information following them, are a nice way to break up copy and make reading easier. Bullet points highlight information within the sub-headings and again make
reading easier by breaking up copy. You'll notice that I'm using both sub-heads and bullet points in
This Special Report.

o Be yourself.

Often when people write that they try too hard to sound "academic" in an effort to come across as
knowledgeable. There's no need to do this and, just the contrary, such an approach will make your copy dry and uninteresting (how many academic journals have you cuddled up to in bed at night?). Instead, try illustrating your message with short anecdotes and be sure to let your true "voice" shine through. You do not want to be someone in your writing that you're not in person.

o Keep your articles tight.

Unless you're told otherwise, the length of a typical by-lined article is about 850 words. Trade journals
are sometimes longer, so be sure to ask beforehand. You do not want to turn it in only to find that you
have to cut away half of your work!

o Do NOT be sales-y.

This is the most important point of all. Writing an article that's just a platform to talk about how great your company, product or service is will result in a direct route to the editor's delete button. Your goal
is to educate your readers on an important issue related to your industry, not to do a sales pitch. In
fact, in most instances (except it's a case study you're doing), the only reference to your company
should be at the end in your by-line.

3. Identify a trend in your industry and offer your company as an example.

Reporters and editors are always interested in trends, and this is a great way to become part of a
broader article. Never let your ego get in the way and refrain from pitching "trend" articles to reporters because you're afraid that you will not be the only company spotlighted. After all, it would not be a trend if it were only happening to you!

I hope that this article has helped you realize that press releases are not the primary
ingredient to garnering meaningful publicity coverage for your product, service or business. By employing the ideas mentioned above you will show the media that you are a true expert in your field, and that you want to use that expertise to help them deliver timely, quality news articles to their readers. Now that is a sure way to get publicity.

Copyright 2006, Diana Laverdure

All rights reserved. You are free to use this material in your print or e-mail newsletter, as long as you do not alter its content in any way and you include a complete attribution, including a live Web site link.



Source by Diana Laverdure

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