spin stories, not wheels

You have created your media outline and now it’s time to develop your message into a release.  This is the most challenging part.  It’s hard to be objective and create an effective news release that will garnish the attention of news editors.   I have met many business owners who put hours into drafting what they think will generate pick-up, and in the end, accomplishes nothing and they feel they have spent more time spinning their wheels rather than stories. 


When planning to write a release, there are a few things to consider that will improve your chances for publication.  An effective news release provides as much interesting detail in as few words as possible.  A simple statement of the facts is the best approach here. Editors appreciate simply knowing what to expect from the release. From the release content, the reporter should have just enough information to develop a short but complete news story.


In order to create a release that is newsworthy, it is a good idea to think beyond an event or occurrence to the story behind it.  Consider why a reporter should spend time covering your news, why an audience would want to read or listen to it, and how they will relate to the information.  Processing these questions first will not only help shape the release but also help in “pitching” it to the media.


Identify the specific audience you wish to address or target.  Is your story targeted to the public, future consumers, a specific industry, or is it for the media?  News releases can increase visibility and an organization’s reputation, but will not accomplish intended goals unless they are written for the targeted audience.


The news release starts with a short, relevant heading.  It should catch the reader’s attention, but does not have to be gimmicky.  I have seen far too many pitches in my lifetime that try this, which can instantly diminish any creditability you have established with the media. 


Quotes demonstrate integrity and are a great opportunity to insert an opinion about the news to support the facts.  When used properly, quotes can expand the relevance of the news to the target audience, add a human element to the news release and create a sense of trust with the editors and readers.


Timing is everything.  Most newspapers, radio, and television stations will not need releases far in advance.  Magazines, however, often have longer lead times and require releases months in advance.


I highly recommend using a wire service to distribute your news.  Wire services can send releases, (for varying fee structures), to a broad national distribution, to specific communities or target segments of the media according to the content of your release and relevance to your business – such as business, travel, fashion editors, etc…


Whenever possible, you should cultivate a relationship with reporters who cover your business so that when they do receive a release from you, they will be knowledgeable about your company and interested in your latest efforts.  While sometimes daunting, making a telephone call is the best way to ensure that your information has been received and that the reporter or editor pays attention to it.  Keep in mind that editors and reporters are extremely busy and are pitched hundreds of stories each day.  The more you are able to engage a reporter in your story, the more it is likely to be covered.


And the most important advice I always give, is this… There is nothing wrong with waiting until you have a story with enough substance to issue a release. It is possible to undermine a later, more significant opportunity by conducting media outreach before there is newsworthy information to share.  PR professionals can help craft a story that is tailored to your needs, but most importantly, to the media to accomplish your desired outcome.  While no one can guarantee placement, a well-written news release can play a significant role in securing media coverage.


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