Thursday, 19 February 2015

Ten things to do BEFORE you send a press release

Taken from my talk at Big Breakfast Club Hungerford this week. Many thanks for inviting me to speak!

1. Read the papers

If you want to appear in the press, then you need to read your local papers to get a feel for their style and to know what kind of stories they use. You also need to see what the competition is up to! Reading around your own trade is essential too and only takes a few minutes a day. It's also a good idea to know what's going on in the national news as this will help inform your writing and keep it up-to-date. It will also provide great ideas on which you can piggyback. For example, there was recently a buzz about David Tennant's debut appearance on Just a Minute where he successfully delivered a full minute on "Exeunt, pursued by a bear" without deviation, repetition or deviation. If you were a professional speaker, then this would be a great opportunity to promote what you do!

2. Prepare a bio

Just have a paragraph ready on your work achievements, awards and anything else that highlights your expertise. It's also worth including your age plus anything quirky you do outside work.

3. Make sure you have a good quality headshot ready.

Not a picture from your phone. And not one with your dog or one where you've hastily chopped someone else out!

4. Make time to brainstorm.

Set aside some time every week, with your team if you have one, to find out what's going on and what they're up to. You'd be amazed at what you find out!

5. Follow newspapers on Twitter.

Also follow your favourite journalists. They often will post queries on Twitter and if you can help, your name will be the first they think of when they need an expert in your field.

6. Know who does what.

Familiarise yourself with various publications and make sure you don't send motoring stories to the sports editor.

7. Know the deadlines.

Make sure you're not calling at a bad moment as this will get you remembered for the wrong reasons.

8. Case studies

Always ask your customers whether they're happy to be quoted as it gives credence to the service you offer.

9. Be nice.

Journalists, and call centre staff, seem to be the only people that get shouted at over the phone. Always be polite and professional. It sounds obvious, but I can't count the number of times people have shouted at me about something that, as a reporter, was out of my hands!

"The picture is in black and white!"

"I wanted to be on page 18, not page 31!"

"I'm a Ms, not a Mrs!"

10. Keep going.

Don't give up after one press release. Try to do about one a month so if it doesn't get used, it's not the end of the world.

Good luck!


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