DIY Public Relations
There are no secrets to getting your company and its products and services in the media. It just requires following a few ‘rules’, a fair amount of tenacity and knowing a good story (or how to create one).
No media (national newspaper, local rag, specialist magazine, broadcaster, or website) is desperate to fill their space with just anything. They all have far more material than they could possibly use – which means that your story has got to be relevant to their readers and stand out from the crowd. A local business magazine editor recently told us that he got over 100 stories each day!
Create a Story
Make your story compelling. Just because you or your company is doing something that you think is interesting does not mean that it’s of interest to the media. Always ask yourself:
Is this new?
Is this unique?
Is it relevant to the readers of the media I am approaching?
If you are still not sure read through the news and feature items in the target media and see how your story compares.
Writing a Press Release
Once you have decided on your story then it needs to be presented in a way that will attract a journalist’s attention. This is where the press release comes in – a short and to the point piece of copy that communicates your story effectively and succinctly.
Give the press release a snappy headline that will encourage the journalist to read on. Present the main points of the story in the first paragraph – if you can’t capture the journalists interest as quickly as possible they will not read any further. Make sure it covers all the important points: who, what, where, when (and how much if relevant).
Make sure it ends with your contact details so that the media can get back to you for further information.
Write the press release in a ‘matter of fact’ reportage style. This is not sales copy and nothing turns journalists off more than over hyping the story, the product and the company.
Contact the Media
You probably know your own trade media and can make contact with them via the internet (many publications have a web presence) and others are increasingly just available online. It is a good idea to find out who exactly is the right person to contact and email them your story.
Local media love local stories and you should contact the news desk of each publication and let them know about your story and get the email address to send it to.
Don’t be shy about phoning the journalist to whom you have sent your release and talking them through it. If for no other reason this will reinforce your story in the eyes of the journalist and make it more likely to be used. It is easy for your release to get lost among the 100-odd stories the publication receives each day.
The Value of Good Photography
Have a good picture to go with the story. An excellent image can get you extra coverage, but don’t make it too branded – they won’t use it if your logo appears in anything other than a subtle way. Make sure any image is high enough resolution to be usable in print media (around 360 dpi) but a small enough file to email (under 1mb).
You could get a knowledgeable colleague to take the photograph for you, but we strongly recommend hiring a professional photographer to do it. Such photographers will be listed in your local phone directories, or you could call your local newspaper and ask them to recommend someone. They usually have a raft of local freelance photographers on their books.
How to Give Interviews
If the journalist is interested in the story they may want to interview you. This can done face-to-face or over the telephone. Either way the journalist will just be looking for some additional material to add to the story in the press release.
Here is a simple checklist on how to give effective interviews:
- always ask who is interviewing you, for what publication and why they wish to do so
- prepare your message
- three points that you’d like to get across, reduced to simple statements, for example these might cover
a. What you company is launching
b.Why it is unique
c. How readers can get hold of it
- don’t forget to mention you company name and products
- make sure the journalist has all your company contact details including your website address
- and don’t worry about the interview
- it is just a conversation about your story