How To Bait Your Press Release Hook

FISHING 1In this multimedia world of promotion, there’s a lot of competition out there. More and more businesses are all elbowing each other for prime coverage in a limited number of promotional slots. Just sending out an informative press release isn’t good enough anymore. It’s noisy out there. Editors are scanning piles of releases and completely ignoring most. Here are a few key tips on how to put the right bait on your hook to get your business noticed and to help secure the coverage you desire.

Give it a catchy title
Catchy, not “Company X announces the launch of their new line for Fall.” Boring. Sorry that one will end up in the trash. Flip through the publications that you are pitching and get a sense of their language. Write the title for them in their style. Use metaphor, humor or other elements of language to catch the immediate attention of the reader.

Customize it
There’s nothing worse than mass produced press releases that are not targeted to anyone in particular, just “the press.” Draft a general release, but tweak it a bit depending on the publication that is being pitched. Say something that speaks to the recipient, do a little research and know what they are looking for. This takes more time and work, but results will be greater if your release is tailored to appeal specifically to the recipient.

Channel an editor when writing

Write your release like a journalist rather than an ad agency. You need to tell a story. But it isn’t just about a telling story; it’s about how you tell a story: the hook. Write the story with the intent to make the job of the editor easier and to grab their attention. Hand the story and the telling of the story to them on a silver platter and your business will get the coverage that you desire, and the editor will be a hero for coming up with a great story, your story.

Give it some emotion

It’s true that the best press releases are the ones that have all the elements of a great article. The worst ones read like a blurb in a catalog. If it’s too hard for the recipient to make a story out of it, they won’t get past the first sentence. Find the emotion behind what you are pitching and let it out. Use stories with humor, empathy, courage, sacrifice, passion or innovation to entice an editor into connecting with your business.

Relate it to the big picture
Connect your story to something bigger – relate it to something going on in the world at large. Don’t be too self-centered. You may think you have the best widget on the market, but not everyone will. Make it relatable to the big world.

Give it some personality

Add a couple of meaningful quotes from key players that show the personality, the heritage or the philosophy of your brand to add richness to the writing. Let the image that you want to create for your business shine through.

Give up ownership
There have been numerous occasions when I have seen copy from my press release reproduced verbatim in publications with someone else’s byline underneath the title. Although I may have had a momentary mind blip thinking, “Hey, I wrote that, not them,” I quickly snap out of it and realize that there was no better result that could have happened. They wrote exactly what I wanted them to write, sending my message for the brand that I am representing out there to the right audience. No chance of misinformation, misinterpretation or misquoting this time. There’s often not a whole heck of a lot that you can control when the writing about your brand is put into the hands of a magazine editor. If you write your release well, that problem will be solved for you.

Write it so your grandmother could read it

Literally. Don’t use tiny type. Don’t single space it. Boil it down and edit it. Then re-edit it. Think about how your release looks, not just how it reads. Make it visually easy to look at. No one will read a lengthy catalog blurb that you need a magnifying glass to see.

Hire a professional

Most everyone can type, but not everyone can write. There is a craft to effective writing and an art to knowing how to compose a press release to get a business noticed. Sometimes if you are too close to something, it’s hard to see what’s right in front of you. If you are struggling with getting attention for your business, then hire a professional to help you get off the ground. (And oh, by the way, I can help with that ☺)

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Local Press Is Global Press

dailynewsMy husband and I were at a trade show in the Boston area recently that was full of vendors from around the world. We sat down to take a look at one vendor’s sample books when the rep looked at the two of us and said, “Oh I know you. I saw a picture of the two of you with your line of shoes.” No big deal, right? But this was someone from China, who we had never done business with before, never met before, and the picture she was referring to was one that was taken by my local newspaper, which serves a little community north of Boston.

My husband and I founded a children’s footwear brand about two years ago, and the first piece of press coverage I secured was in the local newspaper called The Daily News. I figured what the heck, I’ll start with my local paper. I pitched the story to them, they grabbed it and sent a photographer and someone to interview us. I had no idea that this one piece (not that well written and complete a few misquotes, I might add) would prove to be probably the most powerful and widest reaching pieces of journalism about the brand and the story. I since went on to get coverage in key national trade and consumer magazines as well as lots of blog coverage and even got some TV and celebrity placements. But I have heard from more people about that one little silly article in our tiny local paper than the editorial placement in Parenting or Parents Magazine or any of the other national publications that have massive circulation. That article has been seen and read by investors, vendors, customers both wholesale and retail, as well as other press, all contacting us because they read this seemingly insignificant article.

How did that happen? My small town Daily News has an online version. Most magazines do not, or if they do, the content is completely different, or they only  feature a select few articles that were in their print versions. Most local newspapers duplicate their print copy online, and in turn the articles are picked up by other sites, reproduced and word begins to spread.

So when you think that local doesn’t matter and won’t have any impact globally, think again. National coverage obviously is important, but don’t sell local short. Local can have the power to go all the way around the world and back again.

What’s your strategy? What has your experience been with local going global?

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Ready, Aim, Fire: How To Pitch On Target

targetI just read a post on Amber Naslund’s blog about her perspective on the ineffectiveness of pitching in corporate-speak language. It got me thinking about writing pitches in general and how a one-size-fits-all pitch never works. There is an art to pitching. The bottom line is that when you craft a pitch, it needs to speak to the person that you are targeting and/or to their audience. Naslund’s perspective is coming from the angle of social media. In that case, corporate speak is not effective, because that’s not how people in social media talk. In other instances, a more formal tone may be more appropriate. The key here is to know who you are pitching, know a bit about who they are, know their style, and know what it is that you want them to do and if that actually is something they can and may be willing to do. Do your homework and adjust the tone of your pitch depending on who you are approaching. Pitching a blogger is different than pitching a trade magazine. Pitching a consumer magazine is different than pitching a potential corporate sponsor. Speak their language. Put yourself in their position and try to understand how they will respond.

For example, I recently got a pitch from someone at a product company that, although his email started with “Hi Cheryl,” clearly he had never read my blog or taken the time to understand what I do. He went on to say (cut and pasted) that he really enjoyed my blog and all the great giveaways that I host. Um, folks, do you see any giveaways here? He wanted me to host a giveaway for his product even though that’s not what I do. Delete. No, actually, I first emailed him back and told him what I do, and that if he found his current email campaign to be ineffective, then he could hire me to help him craft a more effective one. Then I hit delete.

If you don’t take the time to try to know or understand the person or organization you are pitching, then why would they take the time to care or act upon what it is you are asking from them. Tailor your pitch to fit your mark and your successes will be greater.

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