As Communications Director of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, I developed this handy PR Quick Course on getting the best media coverage for members.
Today, I have updated this for "Start Up Nationeers" who need some FREE publicity from your local media.
So here goes....
Design Ideas Marketing Associates
How to Get Effective Public Relations
Here`s a short "how-to" course on writing an effective press release for your business.
Six Basic Publicity Questions
What makes your business different from the competition?
How is your product or service better than the rest?
Are you using techniques or procedures that are new? Exciting? Out of the ordinary?
Do you have something controversial or provocative to say about your field? About the local business community? About how best to serve customers?
Are there any colorful "characters" associated with your business? Tom Purdue, Orville Redenbacher and Lee Iacocca didn`t become famous by accident. The news media loves offbeat business people.
Is your business associated with philanthropic causes? Are you helping local charities or schools in unusual ways? Are you involved in worthwhile community projects or local sports teams?
How to Write an Attention-Getting Press Release
Here`s my 15 point plan:
1. Always include the five W`s (Who, What, When, Where, Why) in the first two paragraphs. Newspapers cut from the bottom up when printing press releases, so the most important information should be at the beginning.
2. Press releases must have news value, i.e. they should be timely, have a local or human interest angle, or convey a sense of urgency or call to action. Don`t send a press release just to "get ink" or you will quickly wear out your welcome with the local press.
3. Whenever possible keep press releases to one page. Newsrooms are inundated with press releases every day, the more succinct your release is the better the chance of it being read.
4. Use short sentences.
5. Use an interesting headline to play up interesting facts or details. For example in the case of a new business opening, the release headline should feature anything unusual that will be happening. Instead of saying "ABC Restaurant to Hold Grand Opening" say "Free Appetizers for First 250 Customers on Restaurant`s Opening Night."
6. Avoid use of acronyms or industry jargon that may confuse a reporter.
7. Post date all press releases for the date they will be received to keep them timely. For example if you are mailing out the release on Friday, but it won`t be received until Tuesday, use Tuesday as the dateline.
8. Always include a contact name and phone number in the upper right hand corner of the press release. Reporters will call this contact person if they need more information.
9. If a press release is more than one page, the word "MORE" should be typed at the bottom of the first page.
10. At the end of a press release, type "###" or "-30-" to signify the end. This may seem strange, but as a former newspaper reporter and business editor, I know these are the terms used inside the journalism industry. By adding this to the end you are speaking their language.
11. Send Photos - Many newspapers (especially weeklies) will run photographs that are sent with press releases. Be sure to include a caption on the back of each photo sent. Captions may either be typed on a label which adheres to the back, or printed clearly, and should identify all people (left to right) who are in the photo.
12. Create a list of local media outlets and contact information, and update it often. There is frequent turnover in the news business the person who was News Editor last month could be long gone this month. If you aren`t sure, call to confirm before mailing the release.
13. If possible, send press releases out at least two weeks prior to your event. This gives the media enough notice to plan coverage.
14. It is wise to follow-up with media outlets a few days prior to your event. At this time you can confirm if they received the release (if not you can fax another out) and play up any details that may entice them to cover the event. With TV and newspapers you will want to play up any visuals, ex. Ribbon cutting, check presentation, and ice sculptures or other displays. With radio you will want to play up sounds such as Musicians performing or dignitaries speaking.
15. When calling members of the press, always ask if it is a good time to talk. Remember, these folks work on deadline. If they tell you they don`t have time to talk now, ask when would be a more convenient time.
Let me know if these points help you. Constructive criticism is always welcome - ALWAYS!