Do-it-Yourself Public Relations – Getting in the News For Free

So many people don’t understand the difference between editorial and advertorial. Well – here is a simple definition: editorial is free and written by journalists; advertorial (usually some words to go with an advert) is paid for. Now, while you have total control over the wording of your advert, or advertorial, you have to pay for it. And that can cost a lot.

Editorial is free. And, because it is free and at the discretion of the publication (or journalist), they aren’t obliged to publish anything at all, and they can change the words or emphasis to suit. But – and here’s the good news – if you have a great angle then there is every chance that you could interest a journalist in publishing your story.

The best way is through a press release. And that release has to have a really good angle to attract the reporters’ eye. It’s no good sending in a story saying that you are the best thing since sliced bread, even if you are. You need a hook, a peg to hang the story on, an angle.

So what about some of these for ideas?

  • Your business has reached its 10th, 25th, 50th, 100th birthday
  • You have developed a new product
  • You have clinched a fantastic deal/contract
  • You have sold your millionth widget (!)
  • You are relocating
  • Your have taken on staff and doubled in size
  • Your business is being patronised by royalty
  • You are selling in some great stores for the first time
  • You’ve come up with a new invention
  • You’ve done a survey among clients into their eating/sleeping/anything habits … anything which gives you an excuse to get your name and product out there.

Now you have your angle you need to write your release. Remember

  1. Get to the point in the first paragraph
  2. Include all the vital information like who, what, when, where, why, how
  3. Keep it short and simple (two sides of A4 at the most).
  4. Include your contact details and any extra useful information (notes to editors) at the bottom
  5. If possible, get some photos to go with the release

Read it through, then read it through again and then ask someone else to proof-read it/edit it to make sure it is word perfect, makes sense and conveys your message.

Now send it off to the right people, along with the photos. So, that means try and find out the names and direct email addresses for the sort of journalists you want to target. In other words, don’t send a feature idea to the sports editor, and don’t send a business piece to the fashion editor.

Follow it up a day or so later – make sure they received the email, make sure they have read it, check if they are interested, use your powers of persuasion (but don’t be annoying).

If all this leg work seems like hard work, and you aren’t confident of your writing skills, then employ a PR professional. This need not cost an arm and a leg, and will doubtless be much cheaper than advertising. PR professionals (especially ex-journalists, as some of them are) know the hooks to get the interest and often have very good media contacts, so you are increasing your chances of publication. Also, it is worth bearing in mind that the public gives more weight to editorial (which they think is more likely to be true) than adverts or advertorial.

So there you have it – don’t hide your good news story under a bushel – get it out there.

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