Seven Tips To Get Your Press Release Noticed

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If you're seeking to promote yourself or your new business on a limited budget, you probably cannot afford the benefit of hiring a public relations agency to work on your behalf - at least not in the beginning.

You've probably spent considerable money to get to the point of your grand opening or new product release, which could easily fail if nobody cares that you exist.

The cost of hiring a marketing professional is usually worth your money as what you're ultimately purchasing is results. In theory if they don't deliver, you don't pay.

However, there are no guarantees. It is probably easier, less time consuming and less stressful, to pay a professional to perform this work for you. But if you don't have a lot of cash as you start out in business, you can still get people and publications to notice you without spending a fortune to hire a public relations agency.

If you've been down the solo road of self-promotion in the past and were not satisified with the final results of your "PR" efforts, you are not alone.

Does the following scenario sound familiar to you?

You developed an innovative service or produced an incredible product. You did your homework on how to write an effective press release. (And it sounded so easy...)

You followed the standard directions to compile your targetted media list and distribute your announcement according to their preferred guidelines. (And it seemed simple enough...)

You invested in some stamps, paid to use a public fax machine or formatted your release for email submission. You finally got to the point of sending it off to dozens of online and offline publications.

You relaxed for a few days, figuring you'd better store up some energy, to field your anticipated flood of calls from editors anxious to interview you to get more details about the exciting offer outlined in your press release.

A week, maybe two weeks, passed and you were still staring at your phone waiting for it to ring...

You could wait another month or two for the sweet sound of some unknown editor's voice to surprise you on the other end of the phone.

Chances are you'll continue to hear your mother or ex-husband talking when you pick up the phone and won't that just do wonders for your hope and self-esteem?

If there is a positive aspect of this experience, it may be the knowledge that you are not alone.

Regardless of how remarkable your new offer is or how perfect your press release is, the results of your efforts to promote it to publications may not please you to say the least.

Why didn’t your press release produce the outcome you expected?

There’s a few possible reasons and facts about publications, editors and press releases.

Most editors get hundreds of press releases every week. Seldom do they have the time to read every single announcement.

Some press releases don’t stand a chance of being read depending on the editor. If they do not immediately recognize the contact name or the headline does not scream success at them or if they’re just having a bad day, your hard work hits the trash without a second thought.

Sometimes your press release never even makes it to the correct editor. It may get stuck in the fax machine or the mail room may accidentally deliver it to the circulation department. It may be at the bottom of a stack of unrelated faxes or letters and not see the editors desk for weeks, if at all.

What can you do to prevent this disappointing scenario from dampening your spirits and detracting from your potential success?

1 - Follow up every press release submission with a phone call. Do not settle for speaking to the receptionist or leaving a message on voice mail. Do not talk to the sports reporter, who happens to answer the phone, if your press release was intended for the features department. Keep calling until you reach the right person.

2 - Contrary to popular belief, the editor may not be the best person for you to promote your press release to. If you do not receive satisfaction by speaking to the editor, consider other contact options, like reporters, interns, or an assistant editor.

3 - If you’re sending your press release to publications that you read frequently, you should be able to identify a few reporters, who write articles about the service or product you’re promoting. Ask to speak to one of those writers by name. Request to be connected directly to a reporter’s personal voice mail instead of the editors' general mailbox.

4 - If you don’t know the names of any reporters, ask to speak to the "business" writer or the "features" copy-editor, based upon the type of product, service or event you’re promoting.

5 - Think of any contacts or friends of friends whose name you could repeat to an editor or reporter as a familiar reference that may help to establish your credibility. It can make a difference in some cases.

6 - Try to remember any previous events you attended where a reporter was present. Even if you had a very brief encounter with him or her, it’s worth mentioning. Generally speaking, reporters see so many faces and meet so many people every week that they probably will not be able to recall whether they were ever introduced to you or not.

7 - Compliment the reporter on his outstanding coverage of the latest celebration or in-depth series of articles about the best businesses of the year. Or schmooze the editor with similar praise of his writers, front page design or choice of featured content.

The bottom line is simple. If you write a killer press release, slip it in the mail to a slew of publications and wait for your phone to ring, you may wait forever.

An Inside Line To Editors?

Regardless of how well your press release is written (although spelling and grammatical errors certainly detract from its effectiveness), there's a few facts about editors and press releases...

Most editors get hundreds of press releases every week.

Seldom do they have the time to read every single announcement.

Some press releases don't stand a chance of being read depending on the editor.

If they do not immediately recognize the contact name or if they're just having a bad day, your announcement may be tossed before they get to the second graph.

Sometimes your press release never even makes it to the correct editor.

It may get stuck in the fax machine or the mail room may accidentally deliver it to the circulation department.

It may be at the bottom of a stack of unrelated faxes or letters and not see the editor's desk for weeks, if at all. The following ideas are designed to ensure that your press release gets read by the right editor!

(They come from a freelance newspaper reporter and former Public Relations writer - talking from experience on both sides of the fence...)

Follow up every press release submission with a phone call. Do not settle for speaking to the receptionist or leaving a message on voice mail. Do not be satisfied with talking to whichever reporter happens to answer the phone. Keep calling until you reach the right person.

Contrary to popular belief, the editor may not be the best person for you to talk to about your press release. If you do not achieve the response you're seeking by speaking to the editor, consider other contact options, like reporters, interns, or an assistant editor.

If you're sending your press release to publications that you read frequently, you should be able to identify a few reporters, who write articles about the service or product you're promoting. Ask to speak to one of those writers by name. Request to be connected directly to a reporter's personal voice mail instead of the editors' general mailbox.

If you don't know the names of any reporters, ask to speak to the “business” writer or the “features” copy-editor, based upon the type of product, service or event you're promoting.

Think of any contacts or friends of friends whose name you could repeat to an editor or reporter as a familiar reference that may help to establish your credibility. It can make a difference in some cases.

Try to remember any previous events you attended where a reporter was present. Even if you had a very brief encounter with him or her, it's worth mentioning. Generally speaking, reporters see so many faces and meet so many people every week that they probably will not be able to recall whether they were ever introduced to you or not.

Compliment the reporter on his outstanding coverage of the latest celebration or in-depth series of articles about the best businesses of the year. Or schmooze the editor with similar praise of his writers, front page design or choice of featured content.

Remember the goal of your press release. Be able to tell the editor and/or reporter in 20 words or less why your press release is important.

© Danielle Hollister (2004) Danielle Hollister is the Writing Editor at BellaOnline and Publisher of the Free Ezine for Writers http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art157.asp

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