PR from the journalist’s perspective

Quite often, as a journalist, I get asked about PR. Sometimes people like to know just the basics of getting PR, who to send a press release to, how to structure a press release and so on.

Obviously, having worked as a journalist and having been sent tonnes of press releases from PR companies and individuals over the years, I’m pretty familiar with the structure of a press release.

Today I was asked by a stranger for some feedback on a press release. Instead of looking over it in a Good Samaritan kind of way and providing feedback, I decided to write up some pointers. I wasn’t being mean with my time, it took time to come up with the tips I sent to the individual in question. I hope they are of some help, and if they’re not, that’s exactly why I would recommend businesses work with a professional PR outfit to get their message out.

[Irish spinner and spinning wheel. County Galway, Ireland] (LOC)

You can spin your own press release at home

PR Tips

  • does your press release include something new i.e does it contain newsworthy information?
  • do you have a catchy headline?
  • are the most important details in the first paragraph?
  • do you have who, what, when, where, why, how covered off?
  • so you have some interesting, useful quotes in the press release?
  • have you mentioned the USP of the product/service?
  • have you kept it to one page of a word document?
  • have you included a mobile phone number so radio stations can contact you easily?
  • have you considered doing up a different release for local media – have a look at how a local paper will cover something differently to specialist areas such as music or technology
  • have a look at irishpressreleases.ie to have a look at other press releases, try and seek out ones written by professionals to get a feel for how your release rates in comparison.
  • when sending a release don’t carbon copy (CC) journalists on the one email with their email addresses visible, it’s best to Bcc or send individual mails
  • ensure you’re sending the press release to the right person – you can pick up the phone and check with the relevant publication beforehand
  • journalists really don’t like getting a raft of phone calls ‘did you receive my press release’ or ‘will you be running with this story?’
    • it is quite likely they will have received your press release and they may not honestly know till closer to publication if their editor will run with it.

The above tips are absolute basics and in no way replace the expertise of professional PR people. As with everything, you can DIY it but in many cases that doesn’t mean having the same finish as having a professional in to do the job.

If you’re looking for professional PR help have a look at the PRII website or the PRCA listing of consultants or drop me an email and I can recommend some PR consultants.

What are your tips for getting PR coverage?

Quote unquote: case studies

What do you think of testimonials? What do you think of recommendations on LinkedIn?

Sometimes you don't get the full message

Sometimes you don't get the full message

When buying a book or a DVD is the few words of praise from a well know writer, journalist or publication enough to make your mind up and hand your money over to the cashier? Or will you have made up your mind based on in-depth reviews or interviews with cast/crew/authors?

When it comes to choosing a service will you rely on testimonials on a company’s website or brochure to make up your mind? If they were available would you make up your mind based on in-depth features, articles or case studies on the company/service?

When it comes to your own business, do you think potential customers or clients might make a positive buying decision if they knew the full story of how you can help, how great your customer service is, etc?

If you think that’s a possibility, have you ever thought about useful and informative articles on your website, written in a journalistic style? Why not just ditch the boring About page and replace it with text written in article style, quotes and all telling readers about the company/organisation/product? How about a profile with quotes and background info from each staff member that would normally have appeared on the ‘Our Team’ page?

And when it comes to testimonials, do you think they give enough of a picture to a potential client about how you provide a solution to their problem? Why not tell a story?Tell a story with details of your client’s business, their problem, your solution and how you used this to solve their problem. Written in a journalistic style, with background information and direct quotes, it’s bound to help them more than a sentence or two on how great and wonderful you are.

Get attention, get content, inform, get more than a pat on the back, get people interested.

Using Electric Picnic to gain attention

This is not a ploy to get a free Electric Ticket. I’ve already been offered one and declined, in a moment of exhaustion. Though by 5pm Friday I will be cursing myself and dying to go!

Now we’ve that out of the way, let’s get started with the blog post. Before my freebie ticket had been waved in front of me I was entering competitions left, right and centre for free Electric Picnic tickets. Two of these were entered by clicking ‘Like’ on certain Facebook pages. And I wasn’t even doing it for myself, a friend really wanted to go to Electric Picnic but was insistent on not paying.Electric Picnic 2010 poster

Lots of people, I have heard anecdotally, are insistent on not paying. Those in the media were hanging on for media passes (and quite a number of friends only got media pass approval in the last week). Others, I hear, are insistent in not paying because €240 for a weekend pass is too much in the ‘current climate’. Others are hanging on for announcement of a day pass at the 11th hour, because as rumour has it ticket sales have been poor this year. One person said they heard only six or seven thousand tickets had been sold, someone else had it that 80% of tickets had been sold.

Other years, people who missed the boat and didn’t get a chance to buy tickets before they were sold out would have been the ones clamouring to win a ticket whichever way they could. This year it seems to be the people who just don’t want to or can’t afford to pay not only for the price of the ticket but everything from the food to the drink to the EP t-shirts. So, if your marketing budget allows it, why not try and gain followers with the lure of Electric Picnic tickets. Or some other event that people can’t get tickets to for financial or other reasons. Just make sure you know who you’re targeting and they’re the kind of followers you want and need.

For the record, I wouldn’t consider myself as someone who would normally have followed MyHome.ie on Facebook or SpunOut.ie on Facebook. But… I haven’t unliked either of them since hitting ‘Like’ on both Facebook pages in an attempt to win tickets. And, interestingly, though I’m sure I’m well above SpunOut.ie‘s target age group, I’m finding their updates interesting. And maybe sometimes that’s all that matters – keeping people informed and entertained.

Do you think freebies are enough to gain and retain Facebook likes? Or are people sick of entering competitions and not winning them? Oh and by the way… Why not hit Like on our Facebook page? You won’t experience disappointment from not having won a prize to do so – there’s no prize or competition in place (at the moment). Go on, go over to http://www.facebook.com/webcontent.