Archive for press releases
One of my favorite blogs, “You Don’t Say,” by Sun copy desk chief John E. McIntyre, offers a preview of worn-out holiday cliches that editors and reporters – and press release writers – will be tempted to use in the coming weeks.
If you’re thinking of leading off your piece with “‘Tis the Season…” or “Yes, Virginia,” John has a news flash for you: we’ve seen it already. Same goes for “white stuff” (are you listening, AMS certified meteorologists?), “Christmas came early…” for good news stories and references to “The Grinch” in stories about holiday thefts. It’s a list worth reading (and checking twice).
Image: George Eastman Hous
In putting together a by-lined article pitch to an industry trade publication for our client AHC-Greater Baltimore, I have been reminded of the many panel discussions by reporters that most of us have attended through the years. Almost without exception, at least one reporter on the panel wearily requests, “please do your homework before you pitch me — know my beat as well as the types of stories I cover.”
With those words clearly in my head, I’m fine-tuning my pitch in anticipation that the lucky editorial recipient clearly sees, and therefore immediately agrees, that my article idea is both relevant and newsworthy.
Then all I’ll need to do is deliver on the promise.
A recent return visit to the Newseum (a must see and see again, IMO) I discovered this quote carved into a wall: “News is what somebody, somewhere, wants to suppress,” from Lord Northcliffe, a British newspaper publisher who died in 1922.
Based on that quotation, what was true in Lord Northcliffe’s day is even more so today, yet harder to accomplish given the amount of traditional and online sources of news and information.
Given the opportunity, how would he edit that quote today or would he say “stet”?
Q: What is the best way for a business to generate and leverage PR opportunities?
A: You need to be prepared ahead of time to tell your story. That means having your company’s key messages and talking points in order well before you receive the phone call or email asking for a comment.
The PR team should help the media do its job by having information about your company and products readily available, and today that means having a current and easily accessible press section of your website that’s stocked with bios, product fact sheets, recent press releases and images. One of the most important elements of a press room is the press contact – not a generic “email@example.com” email address, but a real name, an actual person’s email address and their telephone numbers. That’s typically one of the media’s top complaints about press rooms – there’s no real person to contact when a reporter is on deadline and needs to know someone is available and working to get a response.
Finally, you need to keep your press releases up to date. If the date of your most recent press release was nine months ago, it communicates a lot about what’s going on at your company – or not – whether you like it or not.
NBC’s Sunday morning ‘Meet the Press’ is among our favorite media training tips because of its nearly unfailing showcasing of basic but key interview tips including bridging, flagging and counting. David Gregory asks questions while the guest then acknowledges them before offering information about topics/issues that s/he prefers get aired.
In our opinion, taking control of a media interview, as guests routinely do to one extent or another on such interview shows, should always be the goal. A media interview is your opportunity to communicate your messages using tips and techniques designed, crafted and time-tested to help you do so clearly, concisely, consistently.
On an upcoming Sunday, view “Meet the Press” or similar programs with an educated eye and ear towards the guests and their skill with taking control of the interview. You’ll see the results of media training at its best, happening right in front of you.
Does your website press room offer the information the media expects to find there, including an image library, useful contact info for your spokesperson and easily-printable fact sheets and background material? If not, you’re making a journalist’s job more difficult and that could reflect poorly on your brand.
Here’s a link to an informative blog post based on research on “what journalists really want from an online newsroom,” by David Bowen of Bowen Craggs & Co. and posted on the MyNewsdesk customer blog. [Thanks to Keith Childs for sharing it on the FIR FriendFeed room.]
Today we got our hands on the August issue of Baltimore magazine and inside is an article about seniors housing communities that includes our client, Crystal Spring. It’s a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) coming to Annapolis in 2012 that will also include village center-style townhomes for people of all ages and a destination retail village with shops and outdoor cafes, as well as a cultural arts center and village green. A boutique inn and spa is also being considered. It’s all on one “campus,” and is the new way CCRCs are being designed and built vs. the old stand-alone model that isolates the residents from the broader community.
Sawmill has been working with the writer for many months. In fact, the paragraph were I am quoted comes from an interview I did back in January. Proof that publicity also requires patience.
Inc. is a favorite magazine of mine because I always learn something and enjoy a good read as I do so. Imagine my chagrin when editor Jane Berentson took the PR profession to task with yet another trip to the woodshed for irrelevant pitches and obvious email blast pitches.
When will we learn?
Ms. Berentson shares that, for her, the best story ideas “unfold in a conversation about this and that” which provides valuable insight into her approach for exploring and discovering stories that reside beyond the obvious and the expected.
Our challenge is to find a way to be a part of one of her conversations about “this and that” and in so doing, uncover a story that neither one of us knew was there.