"Do News Releases Work?"
Invariably, when I talk with business people on-line, someone asks that question. Many of us have sent out a press release only to be greeted with silent indifference from the media. But that doesn't have to be the case. The media needs, must have, craves, can't do without a steady stream of usable news. YOU are the person that can supply the news they need. And you can get free publicity for your business at the same time.
Even better, you can email your press release to the media. That makes it much cheaper to send a release to lots of media sources.
The news release is the time honored method of putting information before the media. This is especially true for businesses and organizations. It takes the form of a page or two detailing your message, generally slanted a bit to favor your goals. In its most basic form, the news release has your name and contact number at the top, followed by some points that will interest the media outlet.
You Gotta' Be Newsworthy!
Make sure your story is something that the reporter will agree is important. Newspapers don't like it if you send in an ad for your business to be used as a news story. Their attitude is, "Hey, if you want to advertise, call the advertising department and buy and ad." You have to cloak your message in a story that is newsworthy, a story that readers will find helpful, interesting, simulating, sad, or hopeful.
If your message seems too commercial for your local daily newspaper or TV newscast, try sending your release to a trade publication in your industry. A story that is of little interest to the general pubic will often be welcomed with open arms by a more specialized industry newsletter or e-zine.
The bottom line is this: think like the media, shape your message to fit their likes. Do that and your message has a good chance of being used. Above all, don't let up.
While one media manager may not have the slightest interest in your idea, another will welcome you with open arms. The media needs piles of fresh stories everyday.
Where Do You Find the Addresses for the Media?
It used to be that you had to shuck out a few hundred bucks to buy a media guide on CD-ROM. Now that just about every media entity in the world is on-line, the process of getting accurate addresses is much easier and cheaper.
Gebbie, a well-known guide, has jumped ahead of the pack and put their addresses and links on a well organized web site (http://www.gebbieinc.com/misc/sbn.htm). I recently sent a press release via e-mail to over 1000 of the radio stations Gebbie has listed and hot very good results.
Remember, bulk mailing your press release to media is not the same as spamming individuals. Media expects to get unsolicited promotional announcements. That's the business their in.
There are also companies that will send your press release out for you, although I'm not so sure you'll get better results than the do-it-yourself method. Mostly automated press release services make the job much faster. The top press release agency in the corporate world is PR Newswire (http://www.prnewswire.com or 800/832-5522).
PR News Target (http://www.newstarget.com) claims to have cultivated a relationship with thousands of editors covering a variety of industries. I would take that with a grain of salt. When I worked in media we often got calls or cards from PR firms asking if we wanted to get their stuff. We usually said yes because they would sometimes send free hats, shirts, and other trinkets. The press releases often went into the trash. It's much better if YOU cultivate your own relationship with editors.
Jennifer Howard of American Small Business Association does a fine job of sending to over 5,000 media outlets for $250 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also check out Automated Press Releases (http://www.gapent.com/pr). For the nice price of $12.50 per hundred, they'll send your release to any of their 7,600 media sources in 37 countries. While you're at the Automated site, read through their "Pet Peeves of the Media" article.
Some PR firms will write your press release for you. The price usually runs around $200 for a one-pager. (Don't do it! I'll write it for you cheaper.)
Here's a simple example of what a standard press release looks like:
USE THE MEDIA
210 State Street
Contact: Kevin Nunley
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DOGS WILL BE HAPPIER THANKS TO UTAH FIRM USE THE MEDIA.
Use the Media founder Kevin Nunley donates 20 cases of dog polish to the Midvale animal shelter.
Midvale, UT: Lost dogs will have a lot less to be worried about this Christmas as local consultant Kevin Nunley has provided for their well being with 20 cases of high grade Amco dog polish. Midvale animal shelter director, Monica Lewinksy, said, "These will give the dogs exactly what they need to get adopted by families this holiday season."
Dr. Kevin Nunley works with businesses on marketing strategy, copywriting, and web site development. He can be reached at: