• The News Release: Writing the news release is probably the easiest part of the process although many releases submitted to the media are not well-written. Too often, companies over-exaggerate their news and release news prematurely. A news release should be written only when a company believes its news is newsworthy — not when it wants to send a message to its anxious shareholders. A well-written release reads more like a news story, with statements backed up by facts and the overall tone being informational rather than self-serving. For some, the most difficult part of the process is what to do with the release once it is written.

  • Wire Services: There are two types of wire services — one type is fee-based and one type is news-based. Let’s discuss fee-based first. The two giants of the industry are PR Newswire and BusinessWire, both offering comprehensive services that meet full financial disclosure (for public companies). For a fee (based on the number of media outlets selected for distribution and the length of the release), these wires distribute full-text versions of news releases to the media and to the financial community. Several newer services are now available but, for the most part, their track record is not yet established. Getting your story onto fee-based wires is simply a matter of paying the fee. Getting your story into actual news organizations (newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, online Web sites) is a matter of whether the editors, reporters and producers find the news release to be newsworthy. Your job is to create the most newsworthy releases possible and then supplement the wire release with personal media contacts.

    The second type of wire service, news-based, is represented by such biggies as Associated Press (AP), Reuters and Dow Jones. These organizations typically generate original content on topics they believe are newsworthy. They may decide to write your story after reading it on a fee-based wire. More often, their decision will result from a personal contact from your company or its PR representative.

  • Media Relations: To maximize your company’s best news opportunities, you need to do more than just send out a news release on a fee-based wire. A media relations program consists of developing a customized media database that includes all of the media outlets, reporters and editors likely to be interested in your news; creating an "A" list of top media and developing ongoing personal relationships by phone, email, fax and/or snail mail; utilizing "media tours" focused on key media outlets when the company has major news to tell; using trade shows to increase exposure through trade press, and more. It is important to develop a good rapport with the key reporters who cover your beat. Media relations is time-consuming but will be rewarded in the form of regular coverage.

  • Video News Releases (VNRs): A video news release is not typically used by start-up companies due to the costs involved. However, when a company has a strong news or feature story with compelling visuals, a VNR may be the perfect tool. VNRs should be produced by a professional video company familiar with this specialty item and then disseminated using a professional satellite distribution firm. Both elements are essential to success. A good result will provide your company with exposure on the evening news all across the country.

  • Maximizing Your Interview: Part of a successful media relations program involves leading reporters to the company CEO or other key executives for interviews. These opportunities can be few and far between for young companies so each opportunity should have maximum impact. A few tips: make sure to find out as much as possible, in advance, about the news outlet and the individual reporter doing the interview; determine no more than 3 or 4 key message points you want to deliver during your interview and try to get those across if at all possible; realize that EVERYTHING you say is "on the record" even after the notebook is closed and the microphone is turned off; if you are being interviewed for radio or TV make sure to talk in short sound bites that can be easily edited; try to be as "quotable" as possible (be provocative within your comfort zone); understand that the reporter is trying to get a newsworthy story, not promote your company; don’t think of the reporter as an enemy — most are not trying to hurt you or your company.

  • Clipping (Monitoring) Services: When you embark on a media relations campaign, it is important to capture the "hits" about your company. Two primary reasons to obtain copies of your editorial coverage are: 1) reprints can be made and sent to anyone interested in your company (for sales and/or investment purposes) and 2) knowing what is in print, on the air and on-line about your company is helpful when dealing with customers, prospects and Wall Street. A variety of monitoring services are available that can look for mentions in print media, radio and TV broadcasts and Web sites. Prices and efficiency vary — check out a few before deciding which service to buy.

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