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Press Release Tips
How To Promote Your Business With FREE Media Coverage
By Kevin Nunley
We've all seen it. Somebody gets a bright idea or develops a new
product and the media jumps on it. PRESTO!---everyone wants that
person's product or idea. Does this happen because the idea or
product is a truly new and brilliant one?
Hardly. More often than
not, THE PERSON SUCCEEDED BECAUSE SHE OR HE KNEW HOW TO USE THE
MEDIA. (Pardon my shouting, but THAT is the most important
message you'll ever hear, next to "Your house is on fire!") And
YOU can do it too. Read on!
We live in a mass society. Millions of people spending billions
of dollars and talking about trillions of ideas 24 hours a day.
You can reach a FEW of those people through old fashioned word of
mouth. But to reach HUGE numbers of them--which is what you will
have to do to get the big results--you must use Mass Media.
Do News Releases Work?
That's the question which people always ask me. If I host a chat
on America On-Line, as I often do, its guaranteed several people
will want to know if sending out press releases will just be a
big waste of time.
Well..the answer is "yes." Yes, if you don't know exactly what
you're doing. But having said that, let me need, must have,
crave, can't-do-without a steady stream of usable news. YOU are
the person that can supply the news leads they need.
Preparing a Press Release
The news release is the time honored method of putting
information before the media. This is especially true for
businesses and organizations. It takes the form of a page or two
detailing your message, generally slanted a bit to favor your
goals. In its most basic form, the news release has your name and
contact number at the top, followed by some points the media
outlet will be interested in.
News releases don't work for all situations. Radio stations get
bags full of them each day, and almost all go into the trash.
Television doesn't do much better. The real province of the news
release is the newspaper. Now the journalistic turf of the
newspaper is being shared by the on-line community--thousands of
e-mail newsletters, newsgroups, discussion groups, web sites, and
Unlike most other media sources, newspapers require a very large
and steady flow of new information coming in on a daily basis.
Reporters keep all options open as sources of news. If you can
dump a good message in their laps, they will use it.
Reporters usually call their own shots. Following a few
guidelines set up by his or her editor, the reporter has the
freedom to decide which stories to pursue. Call the newspaper and
ask which reporter handles stories like yours.
If your message is fast breaking and can't wait for a news
release to arrive in the mail or for the reporter to check her e-
mail, phone the reporter and tell them about it. Make sure you
have all your facts clear and correct. Reporters despise
inaccuracy. Set them up with bad facts and they won't come back.
Also, make sure your story is something that the reporter will
agree is important. Newspapers don't like it if you send in an ad
for your business to be used as a news story. Their attitude is,
"Hey, if you want to advertise, call the advertising department
and buy and ad." You have to cloak your message in a story that
is newsworthy, a story that readers will find helpful,
interesting, simulating, sad, or hopeful If you're not sure, you
can often leave your message on the reporter's voice mail, and it
has the effect of demanding less urgency. When the reporter says
your message is no big deal, as some occasionally will, it will
reflect less on you.
Get on Talk Radio -- It's Easy!
Talk radio is booming. There are now well over 1000 radio
stations in the United States programming talk shows full time.
If you count individual talk shows, the number zooms up to 3000.
This is a tremendous opportunity for small business people. The
promotional boost that talk radio gives you can be immense and,
best of all, it's free.
All of those 3000 shows need guests. Nothing scares a talk show
host more than the idea of having to go it alone. Hopefully, the
telephone rings with lots of interesting callers, but that's not
always the case. Radio talk hosts everywhere know that you NEED A
GUEST to make the show fly.
That's where YOU come in. A talk show guest gets to put on
display--in front of thousands of ears--their expertise and
business. Do you have to be the best in your business, or be a
good talker? No! All you have to do to be on a talk show is have
some information that will interest the show's listeners.
That can be as simple as giving listeners some ideas on how to
fix their car, save more money, grow a nicer lawn, stay out of
legal trouble, pay fewer taxes, or anything else that will make
their lives easier and happier. If your business can be related
to some current topic in local or national news (for example:
your employees are helping the mayor clean up graffiti) then
expect to get even more attention from talk radio.
Even if your business is not all that interesting to the general
public, maybe you have another interest that is.
Getting on TV...It's VISUAL!
The most important thing about television is that it is VISUAL.
In many cases, the story may not sound interesting or be
interesting, but if it LOOKS interesting, it gets on TV.
Once at a fund-raiser, all the media personalities in town were
gathered together for a banana split eating contest. Knowing that
every television station would be sending a camera to cover this
novel and VISUAL event, I decided to be the most novel and visual
person in the contest.
We all sat down, television, radio and newspaper people alike,
and prepared our chops for the starting whistle. As the eating
commenced, I pulled out a giant silver spoon the size of a small
shovel. The television cameras immediately swung to me.
That evening, at the neglect of all the other media contestants,
footage of my spoon and I were prominently featured on the news
of several television stations. The visual approach to TV worked.
Five Things TV Producers Look For
There are five basic categories of stories that television likes
to cover. You won't find these written down anywhere on a news
room bulletin board. They are instinctive to assignment editors.
Number one are political stories. Anything that has to do with
local, state, or federal politics gets on TV. If the Gotebo,
Oklahoma dog catcher does something that upsets two people, it's
somehow viewed as a worthy news story. Expect to get on TV if you
mount an accepted challenge to a government official, entity, or
Big community problems get the same kind of coverage. These are
often things that touch everyone. Potholes, mosquito eradication,
garbage service, flood control, and crime all fall into this
category. Activities that solve big community problems, or
potential problems, get attention too. This could be something
like people planting fifty trees in the city park.
Education and Health earn a lot of television coverage these
days. The first one is because everyone is concerned about kids.
The second is because television news viewers are
disproportionately middle-aged. They have an increased interest
in health information and issues.
Celebrities always get television time. The reasons are obvious.
The man or woman who couldn't care less about the other topics
mentioned will always look up when the local NBA star or visiting
movie star comes on.
I will awkwardly lump sports into this category as well. Sports
make up to 50% of local news in many towns.
Finally, television loves novelty. Some experts say that anything
visual and original will get on. I'm not sure I agree. Strictly
original stories often leave assignment editors wondering why
they should cover it. You are far better off doing something
that's done once every year or two. The cameras will show up for
something that they know from experience will be a winner.
Contestants diving into a swimming pool of green jello to grab a
key that starts a free car is the oldest stunt in the book, but
it invariably brings the TV vans out in droves.
Above all, remember that getting covered by major media isn't
easy. You probably won't get much response with the first press
release you send out. But keep after it. Keep sending your press
releases every few weeks. Editors and producers will get to know
you and soon your free media coverage will be flowing.
Kevin Nunley has written thousands of top-notch press releases
for his customers.
See his affordable press release deal at
Before going online in 1996, Kevin was on-
air at major radio and TV stations for 21 years. He knows what