- 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.
Lets 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.
Relations: To maximize your companys 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.
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; dont think of the reporter as an enemy
most are not trying to hurt you or your company.
(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
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.