Is your public relations campaign getting the results you want?
If you're still counting on traditional press releases to spread
the word about your business, the answer is probably no.
There's only a small amount of space available in traditional
media, and there's tremendous competition for that coverage. The
Internet provides a host of tools that let you have direct
contact with customers and potential customers yet most
businesses are still ignoring them.
There's more to media than the press. Today, media is a
collective term for the producers of content for mass
consumption. Newspapers, radio and TV each are powerful mediums,
but they are no longer the only - or necessarily even the best -
outlet for news about your company or product.
Web sites, e-zines, newsletters, Mail Lists, Online forums,
newsgroups, Blogs, reputation management sites and e-mail also
are all powerful mediums created by the Internet. They can have
as much or more influence than the press. In fact, journalists
troll these mediums for stories.
Think like a wired journalist To get publicity now you must
think like a wired journalist and realize that the fact your
company exists is not news. You must understand what the
journalists' audience wants to read and what they, by virtue of
this, want to write.
And you need to learn where wired journalists look for news so
you can be there. Understanding this perspective is the basis of
a system I call Reality PR TM. Here are the principles upon
which the system is based.
Do not bullshit Pride yourself on your ability to make complex
topics simple by unburdening them of jargon and MBA-speak. The
more you stick to answering questions instead of spewing mission
statement rhetoric, the more likely you are to be sought out for
your opinion. At least make the pretense of maintaining an
Write an elevator pitch Write down your story idea in one
sentence. Explain it in plain English the way you would tell it
to a friend during an elevator ride. Get it down to 30 seconds.
Before you write a press release ask yourself where you have
seen an article published like the one you want to write. If
it's a release about your new Web site, your first anniversary
or the company president's speech, chances are - unless your
company is large and publicly traded - the answer is nowhere.
Write tight Writing short and tight is hard. Keep your press
pitches to an absolute maximum of 300 words including contact
information and headlines. Keep your posts in mail lists and
forums short and pointed.
Think vertical The Internet has created a new demand for
vertical content that covers niche subject areas and smaller
industries. Look not only at traditional media but also at
specialized newsletters, e-zines, forums and newsgroups where
your information can be of value.
Be visible Make it easier for a journalist to come to you than
to your competitors. If your posts in newsgroups and forums are
smart and helpful, you can create a reputation for yourself as
an expert. And journalists want to talk to experts.
Find the names of editorial directors of major Web sites,
editors of e-zines and Online newsletters and analysts and
address your pitches directly to these people.
The traditional press release is dead Journalists almost
universally express disdain for the traditional press release.
The vast majority of releases are formulaic, rambling and if
they have a story to tell it is usually boring as hell and lost
amidst superlatives and marketing babble.
Want to win coverage? Start by throwing out the tattered old
print press release. Write like you have 10 seconds to make a
point. Because online, you do.
The new message for new media Ten well-constructed story
suggestions will do the work of 10,000 press releases.
Stories have to be individually tailored to specific outlets.
The expectation of blandness, poor writing and bias is so
ingrained in journalistic culture that the form of the press
release has become entirely devalued.
Moderators of forums, newsgroups, Mail Lists and web sites have
no use for the traditional press release. When you practice
Reality PR you will learn the format they do need.
The Internet has rendered traditional made-for-print press
Don't SPAM the Media While it is perfectly acceptable for
pitches to be unsolicited, you need to observe a number of
Relevance is the key. Read the publication, watch or listen to
the show BEFORE you pitch. Better yet, study several editions.
Learn its point of view and the type of stories it features.
Identify the writers who cover your sector.
Give away your knowledge Write articles for online publications.
Volunteer to be an on-call exert for a major web site. Make a
genuine effort to help people who participate in forums, mail
lists and newsgroups. Skip the bluster and bluff.
There is more to PR than publicity. If you're Number One in a
field that affects millions of consumers, the media will seek
you out. At the least, they will listen when you call or read
release you send because a story about your industry wouldn't be
complete if you aren't included. Approximately 100 companies in
the United States fall into this category.
If your company is small to mid-sized, not publicly traded, new
on the block or a behind-the-scenes business you'll have to
learn other skills for spreading the word about your virtues.
About the author:
B.L. Ochman BLOchman@whatsnextonline.com Internet marketing
strategist, journalist and speaker is the author of a new e-book
on Reality PR ™ http://www.whatsnextonline.com