Marketing Fundamentals

8 Tips for PR Success

By Christine Dubyts, Dubyts Communications

1) Advance Prep Pays

Do your homework.

Check out the media calendar of the newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations you'll send your release to. Who are the screeners, editor(s), program coordinators of the subject you are writing about? What is their preferred method of receiving releases? How much lead time do they need to provide the coverage you're after?

The more information you have about who you need to send your release to, how they prefer to receive it and the special circumstances of their medium the better the chances of getting coverage.

2) Its Not What You Know... But Who You Know

Once you have a contact name of the editor and/or decision maker, try and get to really know them. Phone or make contact with them. Make yourself available as a source/resource of reliable industry information. Facilitate a win-win relationship.

3) Immediate Impressions Can Make-It or Break-It

What impression does the screener/reader get when they glance at the overall appearance of your press release?

Is it professional? Does it have a catchy headline? Or is the top of the page crowded and busy with unnecessary information and images?

Is it readable? What fonts at what size and what imagery did you choose?

Is it intuitive? Or will the reader have to search the release to find the important information? Is the contact information easy to find?

And probably most importantly, can the reader discern in 5-seconds or less what the release is about?

If immediate impressions under-whelm it may not get filed under the “g” but an unprofessional, visually unappealing release is definitely a strike against you.

4) Headlines Get You Half-Way

Even if the first impression doesn't wow them you may get a chance to redeem yourself by offering a great headline.

The headline is the most important part of the release. If you can give the screener/reader an attention grabbing, catchy, interesting headline you're half-way there.

5) Newsworthy Makes Good News

The screener/reader will try quickly to figure out if your story has information people need or would like to know. They will also try to establish how much of a potential audience there might be for that information.

How newsworthy is your story?

6) Write for the Right Medium

Write your release for the medium(s) you are targeting. Ask yourself, “Who's going to be reading this, and what do they need to know from me?"

Savvy PR people take the time and specifically tailor a release to the medium they're targeting.

The readers of your release typically look for news story ops that have characteristics that match their medium.

  • Newspapers, magazines and other print media look for the depth of the story.
  • TV news wants visuals of people or something that is action oriented.
  • TV/radio talk or "magazine" shows look for engaging guests to interview or topics to discuss at some length.

7) What's it “Really” About?

What is your press release really about?

Many releases are written to sell a product and talk mainly about that product or their company and offer no news value.

Don't insult the reader or waste their time. Remember, a news release is supposed to be about NEWS. It should read like a newspaper article, not a promo flyer or brochure.

If you're just looking to pat yourself on the back for some self-glorification it is fairly self evident and self-serving and usually offers little interest to journalists.

Match your release to the media (#5) then provide information that offers readers/viewers something that will keep them engaged and prevent them from changing the channel or turning the page.

You need to convince the screener that there's something in the release that will compel their readers to look at the page long enough to notice the ad to the left of the column.

If you can give them information that keeps their audiences engaged, you've got a winner.

8) Ask For It!

Just like you might ask for the sale, follow-up on your release and ask when you might expect coverage. As always, be professional and positive and remind them why your story is suitable for their medium and why it will engage and interest their audience.