Everyone’s talking about social media. How do you maximise your likes? What are the most engaging blogs? How do you maximise your LinkedIn contact base? Ironically, the marketing community never got together half as much as they do these days to discuss social media!
I can’t knock the platform I’m publishing on however, I do agree with former BBC journalist Simon Hall in that there’s something special about ‘earnt’ media coverage. Content has to go through a filter of credibility (in most cases) and will have past the test of journalistic integrity before being published – it carries more weight, and therefore your message resonates more with an audience.
And it’s not as tough as you might think to earn column inches, airtime, or even film seconds.
Here’s my 7-step guide to getting your press release published or your story picked up by the broadcast media- with content, entirely credited to Simon (@simonhallnews)
- Find an angle
Think about the corporate message you want to convey, and then think about how you can present it a unique and compelling way. How can you give it an emotional connection? Tie it into a local event? Or a national trend? How can you present it so that it interests the reader, listener or viewer? It’s not about ‘you’ at this stage, it’s about entertaining or informing ‘them’- the audience.
All journalists will ask, “why is this relevant to my audience/ is it topical/ how will it change their world?”
- Consider the Audience
If you are crafting a press release for a B2B trade or Chamber magazine, your content will have a different angle and tone to the one you will craft for your local B2C newspaper or radio station.
- Craft your press release properly
Journalists have short attention spans and are short of time. Make sure you:
- Come up with an impactful headline (use this as your email subject line): crow cryptic; the power of puns; alluring alliteration;
- Come up with a ‘Top line’: 20 words which will really grab the audience’s attention. Make sure to put them in bold;
- Use the ‘Pyramid Structure’, putting the most important stuff in the first 3 paragraphs (Who, what, where, why, how, when). Then add additional information (including quotes to tap into the passion/ feelings of the reader). In the final paragraphs add some colour;
- Include your contact details and a bit about the business at the end.
- Add a great photograph
Make sure that the composition or subject matter is portrayed as creatively as possible. If you don’t have a DSLR camera, a Smartphone on HD should be sufficient. For a fun twist, you could even use video! Simon’s advice is to consider adding video “It’s really worth getting involved with video- it’s really impactful”.
- Check it
A written piece riddled with poor spelling and grammar mistakes, or poor video production will be an instant turn off for any journalist. Check your work for mistakes and ask someone else to check it too to catch anything that may have slipped through initial editing.
- Send as email, not as a word doc in an email
Ideally, you should send your email on a slow news day. The afternoon is better than the morning and weekends sometimes work well, too. Don’t worry about using the same release for different media, but amend for different audiences.
- Follow up
It’s worth a call to check if the journalist needs any more information. Do your best to build a valuable relationship over time but don’t be a stalker! You could also think about organising an event. Journalists love a free beer and a canape.
Nothing to worry about there then. Give it a go. The media has an avaricious appetite for news. You just need to make your news ‘tasty’. Good luck.