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Getting more publicity: The three key questions a news release answer

Getting more publicity: The three key questions a news release must answer

I cannot believe what is coming across the wire. So may people are still blasting out news releases that lack the essential information media need. What a waste.

If you want your news release to be maximally effective, it has to answer the primary questions for the media:

1. How many people in my audience are going to be interested in this?
2. What’s in it for my audience?
3. How easy is it for me to use this information (e,g., how much does it cost me to do this?)

Then it must present your proposed story, the facts needed to support and flesh out the story, your ideas, advice, or comments, your skills, experience, credentials and accomplishments in terms of that objective.

You have to offer media everything they need to run with the story using you and the resources you’ve arrayed if you are to meet their needs in today’s fast paced environment and the ever changing technologies we get to utilize.

Being effective when pitching articles

How to be maximally effective when pitching articles

Client was heading to meetings with the National Speakers Association and she asked me if there was anything I wanted to share with them about how to be most effective when pitching articles. Here’s what I suggested:

To be maximally effective with articles:

1. Do your absolute best to help the people they can help the most on the biggest most pressing problem facing them; and

2. Target the right media with exquisite care and realize that you only need to reach the media who can reach YOUR PEOPLE. No other media matters.

3. Deliver the problem solving content in whatever format the media wants it to be delivered so that it can be easily published and utilized.

Have a great time!

The Goal of a News Release

The Goal of a News Release

The goal of the news release it to get publicity and not to sell product.

My experience is that media view endorsements as marketing facts. I don’t believe that media care much about what other people think until they have determined that they are interested in the story first. Only then do the bio and endorsements act to validate that the author and the message are solid and can be trusted. They are not usually newsworthy in and of themselves (although there are no doubt exceptions, e.g., a Sarah Palin endorsement of a candidate).

Media are usually content based decision-makers who make their living publishing. So if you want to be in the media you need to help them do their job. But there are lots and lots of media and you need to give the right message to the right media. How do you do this?

First you have to know your book, author and content.

Then you have to identify your target audience.

To answer the question, “Can I reach this audience?” you ask, what do My People read watch and listen to, particularly when they are most receptive to taking the action that I want them to take?

That’s how you identify and target the right media. I use Cision to create these custom targeted media lists. Hitting the right media is one of the crucial steps because they are the only ones that matter.

Then you tailor your message to meet the needs of those media. To be maximally effective when you do create your pitch, you study these media and evaluate existing coverage for similar projects. You look over the possibilities based on what they do publish or produce, since this is how they make their living.

Then you create and give them a strategically written ready to go proposal for an article or a show that meets those needs using the very best content that the author and intellectual property you seek to promote has to offer.

That’s how you maximize your chances of success for any book, product, service or initiative. You give right media something newsworthy and value laden that’s designed to make them money their way.

This is a very difficult process. There is lots of uncertainty and if you mis-match the message and the target, you simply don’t get the best response.

So many people miss the boat and create general vague all purpose news releases that really are simply ads for the book. They don’t really even understand that media don’t care about the book. They only care about whether a news release pitch offers, news, education or entertainment that the audience will really enjoy, and that’s really easy to publish (e.g., doesn’t cost the media a lot of time, money or effort).

Media simply will not respond unless the pitch is really interesting and delivers exceptional value (news, education or entertainment) and the actions they are to take (write an article or do an interview) are logical, easy and quick.

You give the media what they need and they’ll give you what you want which is bona fide objective editorial high value content laden coverage that promotes the book and the author.

You give them a pitch that looks like an ad, you’ll get a response from their advertising reps. They’ll basically tell you, if you want an ad, pay for it.

Getting Publicity for Web Seminars Is Very Difficult

Getting Publicity for Web Seminars Is Very Difficult

Have to tell you that I have yet to see media (prime media or even bloggers we pitch to) cover web seminars to any great extent. But to answer the question properly I had to ascertain existing media coverage for those keywords.

So I did the following search at Google News for “web seminars”.

http://news.google.com/news/search?aq=f&pz=1&cf=all&ned=us&hl=en&q=web+seminars

You can study the results yourself if you do this search. The proof is right before your eyes.

Here what I saw on Page 1 of the results:

• One AP article from US newspaper article talking about a free government web site web seminar on health insurance (hot topic for obvious reasons)

• One NY Times article on strategies for graduates that talks about using web seminars as a tactic for searching for work

• Three news releases posted at free online news release distribution services (not type of media coverage we are looking for)

• Two online magazine event announcements (topical but online only and good luck finding these unless you specifically look for them)

• Two topical online news service announcements (similar highly limited distribution and actual reach to people issues)

While the AP article appears encouraging, the AP cited to the US government on a hot topic.

The others are all media with very little reach or impact

So there is not one author, expert, or company article to be found in the prime media.

So at least based on this analysis of existing media coverage, the chances of seeing a business web seminar getting picked up nearly non-existent in newspapers, radio, TV, news services and news syndicates.

You may see a few pickups in trade magazines, but the possibilities of people in a given target audience are remote given the extreme paucity of bona fide media coverage that is revealed from the Google News results.

So what can you do?

Stay with the known proven tactics that perform well.

To date, media will run (in order of effectiveness and ROI to you)

– problem solving tips article by authors and experts

– local event announcements with significant community engagement

– human interest stories

– book reviews in media that serve the people you are trying to reach the most

Since the client I was working with was seeking targeted publicity that brands her and she sought to see interested people contact her for books, speaking and consultation, the best tactic I could recommend is for her to use the problem solving tips article approach.

It is the only reliable proven way to let people see and experience what she can do for them so that they act by asking for her to do more of the same for them.

One of the best strategies for publicity success: wish fulfillment

wish fulfillment as a publicity strategy

You see it in best selling books and movies. You can do it yourself if you think about it and try.

The element is wish fulfillment.

It must be so vivid that your audience can visualize it, taste it, feel it.

It can be the feeling of overcoming all odds and achieving success.

It can be the vision of being healthy or wealthy.

It can be the freedom to choose, the enjoyment of love or the magnificence of winning the race.

It can be the indulgence of eating chocolate.

It can be the thrill of flying down a mountainside or soaring like a bird.

It can be the excitement and anticipation of heading into a battle to save people from harm.

You identify the wish you can give to a media audience and then offer it up to the media on a silver platter.

Whose dreams and visions can you fulfill today?

Do your very best. Tell people what they can do to achieve their deepest hopes and desires.

Make their dreams come true.

How Important is a News Release?

What a news release does and why they are so important

How Important is a News Release?

A news release is the key deliverable for those seeking publicity (much like a résumé is for job seekers, or a contract is for contract seekers).

If a news release works you can get an article in a newspaper, an interview on radio or TV and information about you will be placed in front of an audience of people who can take action based on what they learn about you.

With publicity comes increased interest, name recognition, calls from prospects, sales, and profits. Compared to advertising and direct marketing, publicity is very, very inexpensive to acquire.

The publicity you can generate with a news release can be phenomenally valuable. You can inform people and generate interest in your products and services, educate and entertain hundreds, thousands, even millions of people, drive traffic to a website or get people to attend an event and as a result acquire fame and recognition.

But if the news release fails to capture the attention of an editor or producer, your business, event, or idea may wind up in the trash along with it.

When I published the original Trash Proof News Releases in 2001, the primary ways you could send a news release were:

1. street mail
2. fax
3. e-mail
4. in person
5. telephone

Internet based media platforms and personal communication devices have evolved considerably in the past seven years. In addition to those outlets listed above, we now have:

1. web pages
2. regular search engines
3. news search engines
4. specialized search engines
5. online libraries, directories, databases
6. newsletters and ezines
7. discussion groups and mailing lists
8. forums
9. audio and podcasts
10. video (You Tube)
11. chat rooms
12. blogs
13. social media (MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc)
14. cell phones and PDA’s

The technology continues to evolve, get smaller, and faster. The way we receive news continues to change.

But the message you create when you send a news release to persuade media to give you exposure is the crucial starting point. What you write, say, or look like influences their decision and if they decide in your favor people get to read, watch or listen to some version of your message. Your news release to the media is the key – the crucial proposal that determines what media do.

What you place into a news release determines whether you get media coverage. If the message is deemed newsworthy, you can fly across the media and soar to majestic heights like an eagle in the wind.

If the message fails to incite media interest, then it sinks like a rock in a pond, never to see the light of day again.

The successful news release provides a story arc, anticipates questions (who, what, where, when, why, and how?), triggers an emotional connection, and leads the media who reads it to a decision to share you and your message with an audience of people.

In the face of the hundreds and even thousands of other people competing for media attention, this is no easy task.

Oftentimes, you’re trying to capture all the most meaningful aspects of your life’s efforts in one single phrase. You must outshine all the other twinkling stars in the night.

The success of a news release resides primarily in the quality of the copywriting. It must address the needs of the media outlet, its sponsors, and its audience. Those audience members can tell the difference between content and advertisement pretty easily, so your news release must be pitched perfectly if it’s going to accomplish both your aims and the media’s. It must be concise, easy to understand, interesting, believable, value-laden, and actionable.

That’s what you need to do when you create a news release.

Landslide PR Success Story – Get out there and help the people you can help the most

Lessons learned from a landslide PR success for a self published author

I can’t take 100 percent credit for delivering this landslide of publicity, because all I did was provide guidance, counsel and help along the way. What I did was just one of the many things the author did that helped set the situation up so that it could happen. It took several months of consistent, dedicated, concerted team effort for this to happen. Lots of faith, blood, sweat and tears, several people, and then of course, karma and luck.

About six months ago, I started working with a Houston based new self published author D. Ivan Young on his book Break Up, Don’t Break Down.

When the book first came out he did a lot of social media marketing and sought to do a bunch of radio talk shows. He did quite a few blog talk radio shows for the first month. Then I transmitted a news release outreach and he got about 30 book review requests, several additional blog radio interviews and some prime media interviews around the nation.

Then last week he was called and interviewed for a story by an AP reporter who was doing independent research for a story about a particularly viscious and very well reported celebrity breakup about two of the people on “The Bachelor” one of the prime time reality TV shows. He had searched on Google and found Derek and his website, his book and links to his recent media coverage and interviews. The reporter called and got an expert quote from the author, the only book author quoted in the article.

The article came out in the Associated Press on July 4. It then showed up in over 1,000 media overnight.

If you do a Google Search in quotes like this:

“D Ivan Young” and “The Bachelor”

http://www.google.com/search?q=%22D%20Ivan%20Young%22%20and%20%22The%20Bachelor%22&hl=en&ned=us&tab=nw

On July 6, it revealed 1,010 stories – although this will go up and down from here out.

The Google News Search a few minutes later on the same words in quotes shows the link to the AP story and the New York Daily News story and 768 similar stories. This will fade away over the next few weeks.

A grand slam homerun as regards publicity for him and his book. He is quoted saying some remarkably intelligent things about relationships (I’m talking about a guy talking about relationships here, really a regular guy talking about relationships!) and his book is named.

All I could do is say something banal and boring and maybe sing a bar from that song by Neil Sedaka over forty years ago, that breaking up is hard to do.

Duh.

Lessons learned:

Get out there and help the people you can help the most.

Get media experience doing interviews (all types of interviews) and be sincere, authentic, energetic, expert, and knowledgeable about your subject.

Be prepared – because you never know who is going to call.

Persist! Don’t ever give up.

Congratulations to D. Ivan Young.

The length of a news release doesn’t matter anymore.

The length of a news release doesn’t matter at all anymore. This is email. We create and transmit articles ready to go and they are used for both print (even as is), interviews (the Q & A’s are right there), and as a pitch if media decide they want more, less or even something else. It allows them the freedom of choice and they like it and respond to it.

Quality matters. Content, originality, innovation, and value to the audience matters.

We use what creative driven people bring to us and we focus on the biggest problem facing the audience they want to reach. Then we offer to solve that problem and we do our best to help the people we can help the most.

This process works and gets us more coverage in the right places than any other method I’ve ever seen used.

This is how we achieve professional branding that not only results in book sales, but in the case of people with multiple income streams, it sells everything they have to offer.

That’s how come so many experts and people with experience and mature businesses do so well with the publicity they get. Even one single sale of a consulting contract can be worth many tens of thousands of dollars.

Book Publicity for Fiction Writers

22 Questions for Fiction Writers to Answer and Use to Get More Book Publicity

One core set of quality content that’s entertaining, educational and sheds light on your personality and the unique things you bring to your writing and the value it has for people all make for a good recipe for author success with the media.

What can you talk about that’s interesting and invites people to learn more about you and your book?

1. Describe your book in 50 words or less:

2. How did your book come about?

3. Can you tell us about the story and a bit about the main characters?

4. What has been your experience with (the subject of your book)

5. How does it relate to what happens in your story?

6. What are some of the rules or prejudices you’d like to see changed about (your subject)?

7. How did you do your background research?

8. Where do you research information for your books?

9. How has the community responded to your work?

10. How did your work on this get started? Where do your characters come from?

11. What can you say about (aspect of writing) and what it plays in your work?

12. What do you find to be most exciting about (name the issue)?

13. How did you get your start in writing? What, if anything, lit the “spark” to get you started and keep you motivated?

14. What are you currently working on?

15. What are your favorite and least favorite things about being a writer?

16. What do you do in your spare time, when you aren’t writing?

17. What was the last book you read and would you recommend it?

18. How have the books you’ve read influenced the books you write?

19. What do you do when you’re having writer’s block to “shake” it off?

20. Have you ever had to overcome real tragedy or hardship in your life?

21. What makes a good (type of book, e.g., thriller?)

22. What do you enjoy more, writing or discovering other people’s work?

If you write 50 to 100 word answers to these questions you can then offer them to media as a news release, feature story content about your book, an email questionnaire for bloggers, interview article, and Q & A’s for a radio or TV talk shopw interview.

Timing the transmittal of a news release

One of the members of the POD Publishing discussion group asked the following question:

When do you recommend going out with the press release (i.e. on the release date, a month before, etc.).

——-

Timing news releases depends what you are trying to accomplish and where you are at in your publishing or product release schedule. You must first recognize the key event date and then take media lead times into account. If this is associated with the publication of a book or a new product, this is usually associated with the official publication date or release date.

I do not generally advise sending out a news release till you can satisfy media requests for review copies or product test samples and interviews with the right person or people. If you can’t satisfy the media then you hurt yourself since you get a request which opens the door of opportunity but then you can’t satisfy the media’s request immediately. So you reduce the chances of getting the coverage you seek. So it depends when your books are available to you and that usually is a month or so before an official publication date, but this varies and is often a flexible date.

Second, the public has to be able to buy the product when the media publishes the news. So that means it has to be available at Amazon and/or BN.com plus any number of other web sites, and possibly be available in bookstores and or through bookstores so you can financially benefit (that is sell product) from the national or targeted demand your publicity seeks to create. This means you should not launch a news release or publicity campaign until the business system is totally operational. If you need to book to be in the bookstores or retail shops first, then you have to wait until your distributor tells you it is time to hit the switch. You have to be prepared to do what’s necessary to publicize and promote so that the window of opportunity doesn’t slip by and the lack of demand results in returns. Timing so that publicity hits when the product is in the stores is pretty crucial. If you are selling totally online, then this is not as crucial a factor.

You have to factor media lead time into account. This means you look two to three publications cycles ahead of the media you seek to get coverage in or on and then also take into account things like media response time to your pitch, mailing and delivery time, assignment time, the time it takes to read, write, review and then actually publish an approved article. For daily newspapers, this means a week to two weeks minimum and many times usually requires a month; for weekly newspapers, this is four to six weeks or more; for magazines this is four to six months. For radio and TV, it’s seven to ten days minimum, and preferably two to four weeks. Online media can of course react very quickly but many of the response and review times do factor into how soon these media can respond effectively. That’s all assuming you want media to do something with your book.

This means that you really have to stagger your news releases and target your media carefully if you are to take advantage of the medias needs. magazines require four to six months, so you hit them first. You do the short term media two to four weeks before your official public availability date. If you wait till the one month before launch date, then magazine publicity will come last and in some cases you lose the opportunity to time the coverage that you need at the time of product release. Still magazine publicirty at the back end can be a very helpful thing to have indeed since it will sustain your sales once the impacts of the short term efforts and coverage start to diminish.

Let’s say though that you are publicizing an event like a book signing, or a conference, or a work shop or a speaking event. If it is deemed to be newsworthy event or a hard news happening or something you propose media to witness of go to that involves people and photographers and interviews, then the minimum media times apply. We’ve seen newspaper, radio and TV camera crews get sent out and show up within 30 minutes of transmittal holding their Blackberries and iPods in their hand reading the news release and say “where do we set up?”

Finally there’s the day to day timing question. Which day of the week is it best to send out a news release to the media? The prime media tends to work on a five day work week schedule and that means they work Monday through Friday. Saturday and Sunday they have off and fewer people really are working in the office. Monday is a bad news day because the media show up to work and have staff meetings and have to recover from the weekend. Friday is also a bad day since they are wrapping things up and are trying to leave for the weekend. So unless it is really hard news, transmitting a news release on or near weekends is not going to get the best media response. But it really depends again what you are asking media to do. If all you want them to do is say yes to you sending in a book for review, Friday morning may be OK.

Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays give you the best opportunity to catch media when they have the least amount of competition for their attention and the maximum opportunity to devote resources to your project. So that is when I prefer to news releases to be delivered.

Finally, after the book is published, the publicity you seek may be far more issue and content focused and related to current events or some other angle. Regardless, you seek to get coverage for the best ideas, education or entertainment you can offer. This you can do whenever you want to do, but it really helps to get out in front to media and look four to six months out. So for example, today is March 25 so Mother’s Day is six weeks away, Father’s Day is two and a half months away, Earth Day is a month away, Independence day is three months away, Labor Day is four months away and so on.

I’ve created a free publicity calendar to help identify opportunities for people which is a free pdf file download. It contains a lot of unusual holidays so that you can really get creative and think up ways to tie-in to calendar events well in advance of the day they occur. Here’s the link:

Publicity Planning Calendar for 2010
http://www.directcontactpr.com/files/files/Publicityplan2010.pdf

The lesson learned is to be prepared, plan things out carefully, andthink through what you are asking media to do when you send out a news release.

If you’ve done your homework and you know you are offering something that interests a lot of people, has real value to the audience, and you also offer the media what they need to do their job easily and quickly, then when you send out a news release and get it to the right media people for action, then you will often times get what you wish for (which is media coverage).