Whether it’s sent via e-mail, snail mail, or fax, a news release is the best way to connect with media. Media lists, media trips, media kits, and photo libraries are your other vital publicity tools, and they’re all interdependent.
The fact is that news releases can work incredibly well, but most of them don’t. A lot aren’t newsworthy, are wordy and poorly written, or don’t look like professional products.
A news release is exactly what it sounds like: Genuine news sent to media with the aim of generating stories. The trick is to get the right stuff to the best people at the most opportune moment.
A lot of tourism/recreation businesses send their releases to magazines and newspapers alone, pretty much ignoring radio, TV, freelance writers (people who aren’t formally affiliated with a particular publication), and (hard to believe) the Internet. But it’s even more effective to contact the whole range of media – if you have a story that’s news for them all.
Publicity is a competitive world. The best way to get media attention is to understand how writers and TV news anchors and radio talk show hosts think – and what they need from you. To make their and y
Let’s take the example of travel writers. With every contact, you need to be smart and professional, persistent and courteous. Remember, they’re in business too, finding good stories, meeting deadlines, satisfying readers/viewers, keeping the boss happy, and staying employed. The way to their hearts is to reach, intrigue, inform, help, and thank them – then stay in touch. And remember the “24 Hour Rule” – respond to any queries within 24 hours.
Your release has three to five seconds to grab attention with the right presentation and real substance. Here are some tips about making an optimal impression:
- Try to get details on whether your contacts prefer a release via e-mail (by far most likely), snail mail, or fax.
- Be concise: maximum 2 pages, or 1 page with maybe a fact sheet.
- The whole release matters – appearance as well as meat.
- Make sure your logo, physical address, web site, email address, etc., are clear.
- Include the date it’s sent out.
- Have a great headline, lead sentence, and lead paragraph – those are your grabbers!
- Tell a story; give it life and personality, with quotes and guest testimonials (with their full names, and place they live) for credibility. (This helps differentiate your release from advertising.) Make sure you have permission to quote these people and that they’re willing to be interviewed.
- Avoid or explain technical jargon (non-ski editors can be mystified and irritated by phrases like “V-1 technique” and “power tiller”, and they don’t have time or desire to research terminology).
- You may want to cover not just skiing but also snowshoeing, fat biking, snowmobiling, dog sledding, a new chef… – evaluate the whole gamut of what you offer and choose what’s most striking.
- Your text should be in descending order of importance – then end with a conclusion, don’t tail off.
- Keep sentences and paragraphs concise – around 15 or so words per sentence and three sentences per paragraph.
- Include enough information that an editor doesn’t need to call you, can just use your facts and quotes and wording. Remember that minimal editorial alteration means you communicate ideas directly to your potential guests.
- Use active verbs.
- No spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors!
- Leave at least an inch of white space on both margins.
- Single-spaced material is okay, with a blank line between paragraphs.
- Number the pages.
- For snail mail, use letterhead and envelopes that look and feel substantial.
- Use easy-to-read not-too-small fonts (our eyes are aging along with all the rest of us).
- Fact-check everything – then have someone else read the release for quality and accuracy.
- Work out whether you should attach photos (generally not), and if so what types of photo will be most welcome – but in any case, let them know photos are available.
- Send the release in a form that can be edited, not as a jpeg.
If you hit the bullseye, be prepared for phone questions, maybe interviews or a visit, even network TV. So:
- Trace results as much as possible (your release may generate an article without your knowing it).
- Stay in touch with any media who give you coverage or seem interested.
- Remember that publicity can be a numbers game (the number of releases multiplied by the number of media contacted). It may take numerous contacts before your first success – keep at it!
© Copyright Jonathan Wiesel, Nordic Group International, 2019