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Posts tagged ‘journalists’

Engage journalists through social media

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Alternatives to press releases

What’s to do when press releases aren’t fashionable anymore ? Some tips here from Claire Celsi via PR Daily.

1. Pitch email. More than 90 percent of reporters claim they want to receive pitches via email. Given that you’re already emailing, just put your pitch in the form of a story, with bullet points emphasizing the most important details you want the reporter to know. Here is the key to a successful pitch email:

 Google the reporter’s name. After ensuring that she still writes for the news outlet, click on one of her recent articles. Make sure it is within the same genre as your pitch. In other words, if you are pitching a health-care story, make sure she covers health care.
• Write a one-paragraph personalized intro for every email you send. “I read your series on health-care abuses in the nursing home industry…” Show some interest in the reporter’s work.
• The remaining portion of the email can be the same for every reporter. This is your brief opportunity to capture the reporter’s interest with your pitch. Make it short, and make it interesting.
• Write a subject line that gets attention and describes your pitch. “For your information” is not a good subject line.


2. Make a website posting (preferably a blog post). 
If your client has a newsroom or a blog, post your pitch material in the form of a Web article or blog post. Use story-telling language, not a standard press release format. Tag the post with keywords, and link to the company’s website or to other information, if possible. You can start a new blog on Posterous in less than 15 minutes.

3. Send a Tweet. Turn your key idea into a tweet. With a little practice, you’ll be a pro at getting your message across in one or two tweets. Ideally, it would be great to send these messages to a reporter as a direct message, but if all else fails, go ahead and say: @JeffZeleny, did you know that the most outstanding pork tenderloin sandwich in Des Moines is at Smitty’s?” (Of course, you’ll want to come up with your own tweet material.) If the reporter does not respond, follow up with an email pitch.

4. Send a Facebook message. I’m friendly with a lot of local reporters on Facebook, but not so many national reporters. Even if you’re not friends with a reporter on Facebook, you can still send them a message. Attach a link or photo if you have one.

5. Pick up the phone. Sometimes a quick conversation to gauge a reporter’s interest can save you a lot of time, especially when it seems as though a reporter is no longer covering that beat. If you keep your call brief and courteous, the reporter will be happy to point you in the right direction. If they don’t answer or are on deadline, follow up with a pitch email.

6. Offer to meet a reporter for coffee if you’re both in the same city. Sometimes reporters are looking for any excuse they can to get out of the newsroom for a while.

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

Writing press releases for the journalists – tips&tricks

1. Attention-grabbing headline. You need a short, catchy headline that will grab somebody’s attention when they’re scanning dozens (or maybe hundreds) of e-mails. Not sure what that looks like? Look at the front page of The New York Times (or any major newspaper or magazine worth its salt) on any given day. You can tell when somebody takes the time to write a great headline. Your headline should sell the story—in this case, your news. If you can’t sell it in your headline, good luck with your pitch.

2. Picture this. Just like a listing on eBay gets more bids relative to the number and quality of pictures used, so, too, will your news. Is there a great picture that tells your story? Spend the extra money and distribute it with your release. At the very least, include a logo with your release—it will stand out. I’m referring primarily to wire distribution of your release. If you’re e-mailing your release, don’t include the images. Instead, link to them with an accurate description in the release.

3. Paint (your story) by numbers. 
Back your stuff up. Don’t fill it with fluff. For instance, here is a good release that begins with an attention-grabbing stat about the problem of bullying in the U.S. to promoting anti-bullying. Love it. The headline is too busy for me, but it’s one of the best releases out there this week. There’s a lot a journalist could start with here.

4. Keep it short. You don’t need to put the kitchen sink in your release. Get in and out. Give them the high points, and they’ll contact you for the rest. Most wire services charge more when you exceed 400 words. Keep your releases under 400 words, and you’ll save money and increase your chances of getting covered. If you can pitch a journalist in 140 characters, there’s no reason you can’t compose a press release that’s fewer than 400 words.

5. Funny how? Like a clown? It’s OK to use humor. Is there a clever (not cheesy) hook you can use with your release? Work for a bakery? Use a “best thing since sliced bread” reference. Humor is highly subjective, so tread lightly. If you’re in an industry not known for humor, it could work. Ben & Jerry’s just issued a press release that said the company is “proud as peanuts (in a chocolate swirl)” about the announcement. Subtle humor makes releases more interesting.

6. Write it like a news story. Learn to write in inverted pyramid style. Answer the who, what, why, when, where, and how in the first paragraph or two. Read the first two paragraphs of the press release you’re working on. If that’s all you had, would you know what the story is about? Practice writing one-paragraph press releases as a first draft. Then add any necessary supporting information. Your headline and first paragraph are the most important components.

7. Kill the canned quotes. Executive John Smith is so excited about this news. It’s really special and makes everyone feel wonderful. Really? Read a couple of executive quotes in press releases, you’ll see they’re always the same. I know journalists rarely use those quotes (except when a release is used verbatim, of course). Either kill the quotes, or give them one they can use. Read the quotes that make it into print, and model your press release quote after that. They probably still won’t use it, but you’ll give them an idea of the quotes they could expect to get in an interview with the source.

8. Use some bullet points.
 Use bullets to break up your information. Just as they make it easier to scan a blog post, so, too, do bullets help you scan a press release. Unfortunately, very few press releases (that I’ve seen) contain bullet points. What would happen if you included a section of your release that said, “Here are five things you will learn in this press release:” with the five things? You might get the strongest response you’ve ever had from a press release. Test it, and let me know how it goes.

Source: Jeremy Porter

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips and tricks for using WordPress as a journalist

I just received the newsletter from IJNet, International Journalists’ Network. This video is made by the trainer Patricio Espinoza and also he is the journalist who won Emmy award for this video.

Take a look, make notes, be productive. I’m gonna use some tips from here.

P.S.: take a look at the IJNet Youtube channel, it’s kind of interesting.

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

News releases – press releases via Public Relations for Dummies


In “Public Relations for Dummies” 2nd edition , authors Eric Yaverbaum and Bob Bly explain extremely simple the basics of PR for everyone who wants to understand the concept and the need of public relations services.oana vasiliu

Eric Yaverbaum has more than 25 years of experience in the practice of public relations and has earned a reputation for his unique expertise in strategic media relations, crisis communications, and media training. Eric has amassed extensive experience in counseling a wide range of clients in corporate, consumer, retail, technology, and professional-services markets and in building brands such as Sony, IKEA, Domino’s Pizza, TCBY, Progressive Insurance, and American Express, among many others.

Bob Bly is an independent copywriter specializing in traditional and Internet direct marketing. He has written lead generating sales letters, direct-mail packages, ads, scripts, Web sites, Internet direct mail, and PR materials for more than 100 clients, including IBM, AT&T, The BOC Group, EBI Medical Systems, Associated Air Freight.

News releases

Editors get hundreds of press releases weekly, all typed in the correct format,  and they throw out 99 percent of them. A professionally prepared release is important — the editor probably won’t read one that is handwritten on a scrap of grocery bag — but content is what makes your release the one in a hundred that actually gets read and used.

The following factors can help your release stand out from the crowd and actually make it into the publication or program:

  • Make sure that the subject of your release is important to the publication’s readers. If you were the editor and you had dozens of releases but could publish only a few, would you select your own release? Are the information and story in your release really important — not to your business, but to the publication’s readers? If not, forget it and look for a new angle.oana vasiliu
  • Make sure that your release is really news and not just an advertisement in disguise. Editors aren’t in the business of publishing advertising. Almost all will immediately discard publicity that is really advertising in disguise. Of course, most publicity has some advertising value or purpose, but write your publicity to give news or helpful information only.
  • Write your release so that the publication’s readers benefit from it. Your publicity will get published more often if it contains important news that will benefit the publication’s readers. This could be new technology that the readers will be interested in, helpful information, or an emerging trend.
  • Keep it short and to the point. Editorial space is very limited, and busy  editors don’t have the time to sort through irrelevant copy and cut it  down to the main points. Write clear and crisp sentences using only the important, relevant information. Tighten the writing. Keep paragraphs and sentences concise. Avoid jargon and repetition. Use strong verbs. Create lively, but accurate, text.
  • Include what the editor wants in your press release. That is, does it have facts to back up your statements? Include the who, what, when, where, how, and why details.
  • Use subheads in longer stories, at least one per page. A subhead is a smaller head that divides documents into sections, as do the smaller subheads throughout this book. Subheads in a press release help the editor grasp the entire story at a glance.
  • Consider adding a tip sheet for details that would otherwise clutter your release. For example, a new restaurant, when sending out a press release announcing its grand opening, included a separate tip sheet listing five specialty dishes along with the ingredients and recipes.
  • Make the release stand on its own. Don’t include a cover letter. If you feel a cover letter is needed to explain why are you sending the release or why an editor should be interested in using it, then your press release isn’t strong enough. Go back and rewrite your press release until it’s irresistible to editors.
  • Get all the facts and establish perspective before starting to write. Adding and rewriting later costs time and money.
  • Keep the news up front, not behind the interpretation or buried in paragraphs of analysis.
  • Cut out puffery; stick to newsworthy information.
  •  Put opinion and interpretation in an executive’s quotation. For example: “Within a decade, file transfer between different computer platforms will be seamless and device-independent,” says Bill Blathers, CEO, MicroExchange Software.
  • Use straightforward headlines. Forget the cute headline that forces an editor to dig through a paragraph or two to discover the who, what, when, where, and why. The headline should summarize the release so that an editor quickly understands your point.
  • Leave plenty of white space (blank space). Doing so is especially important at the top of page 1 because editors like room to edit. Doublespace and leave wide margins. Never use the back of a page.
  • Write for a specific editorial department: news, lifestyles, real estate, financial, new products. Similarly, provide separate story slants (in separate releases) for different categories of magazines. To publicize a directory of free information, for example, press releases could highlight the free information resources of interest to different editors. A press release featuring free information on gardening, real estate, and do-it yourself tips could be aimed at home magazines. A different release featuring free information on starting your own business could target business editors.
  • Create separate, shorter releases for radio and, at minimum, color slides and scripts for television.
  • End releases with a boilerplate paragraph that explains the organization or division. Many press releases include, before the closing paragraph containing the response information, a standard description of the company and its products. This information is helpful for editors who are unfamiliar with you or want to give their readers a little more description of who you are and what you do.
  • Consider editing the news release copy for product bulletins, internal publications, and other uses.
  • Write to gain respect for your organization and your next release. Be accurate and honest. Present clear and useful organization. Deliver value to the reader. Avoid hype and blatant self-promotion.
  • Streamline the clearance process so that only two or three executives approve each release. Doing so saves time and minimizes the chance to muddy the text.

The information is entirely copied from “Public Relations for Dummies” just because I consider it essential for everyone interested in writing not only a press release, but also any type of material for the mass-media.

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

Journalists vs. PR practitioners: trick questions

oana vasiliuDays ago, I wrote an article about do’s and do not’s for media interviews, from Crisis Communications A Casebook Approach written by Fern Banks. Today, I’m going to write trick questions that journalists use to obtain more spicy information.

  • speculative questions begin with if – “If an earthquake had happened during business hours, how many people would have been killed or injured? “
  • leading questions imply that the reporter already has the answer – “You do agree that the company could have avoided this tragedy, right ?”
  • loaded questions are designed to elicit an emotional response – “Isn’t it true that you knew there was asbestos in the ceiling and failed to do anything about it ?”
  • naive questions indicate that the reporter had not done any homework and does not know what to ask – “Tell me, what does your company do ?”
  • false questions intentionally contain inaccurate details in them – “You fired half of over-50 staff, right ?” where the public relations professional, knowing the statistic is wrong, could counter with “No, only 40%”, not realizing the reporter was aiming for that information all along.
  • know-it-all questions begin with “We have the story. I just need a few wrap-up facts.” The reporter may want you to merely confirm an already formed viewpoint.
  • silence is used by reporters who want you to spill your guts, to talk on and on.
  • accusatory questions are designed to force you to blame others
  • multiple-part questions can be confusing to you as well as to the public. Ask which part you should ask first, then answer each part as separate question.
  • jargonistic  questions are those in which technical words or professional jargon are used.
  • chummy questions are those in which the reporter, pretending to be your buddy, may ask – “Say, pal, off the record, what do you think … ?”
  • labeling questions aim to make issues negative or simplistic by seeming to ask for clarity – “Would you call the company’s work schedule stressful ?”
  • good-bye questions are posed at the end of an interview and may even come after the camera or tape recorder is turned off – “By the way …”

If you want to discover what these trick questions can do, I highly recommend you to watch All the President’s Men , where two journalists Woodward and Bernstein uncover the details of the Watergate scandal that leads to President Nixon’s resignation.

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

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