Press releases can STILL pack a punch

PressReleaseIf you follow me here or on my LinkedIn profile, you probably know I’m a strong believer in the effectiveness of a well-written press release.  In an earlier post, I mentioned that press releases have the potential to go viral and become an excellent lead generator.  Recently, I had a media relations experience that perfectly illustrates my point!

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The Press Release is NOT Dead!

Long Live the Press Release!

It’s a major weapon in your organization’s PR and media relations arsenal and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. They are effective (especially when search-optimized for Google and Yahoo!) in helping customers find your business, and for arming reporters with information about your product or service. I have proof, and it comes courtesy of my PR and marketing clients.

Here’s a press release that prompted executives from consumer warehouse retailers to call my client. Imagine having high-value prospective customers CALL YOU? It happened to Green Delete, which helps firms safely and responsibly delete data from electronic devices. If I hadn’t written and distributed this press release to the journalists who cover recycling, data protection and asset management, these giant companies would never have learned about Green Delete and its expertise in on-site digital asset disposal.

Or check out the release I wrote for Lloyd Bachrach, an amazing, inspiring motivational speaker who also runs Premier Showcasean annual entertainment event to help school administrators and volunteers see the talent before they book their school assemblies. This press release provided valuable, time-saving information that helps time-crunched reporters quickly get the information they need to not only decide on covering my client, but to write a factually correct story. Reporters are so stressed with multiple deadlines and demands, and a well-written press release helps them better do their jobs.  In fact, see the TV and print coverage that I secured for Lloyd who continually reminds me how those news reports helped grow his business and boost credibility among his business partners.

I have scores of other client news stories that appeared in major market media and started with a press release. Just go to my News section here and take a look. Or contact me to learn about why a compelling, helpful, well-written press release should be a key launching pad for your business’s PR efforts.

 

Taking the leap from journalism to PR

Image representing Blog Talk Radio as depicted...

Image via CrunchBase

Career coach Catherine Altman Morgan interviewed me this morning on  Blog Talk Radio about my transition from a career in Chicago Radio (WXRT, WBEZ, and WGN) to a career that helps clients get news coverage on radio, TV, print, online and on the social web. Transitioning from journalism to PR was a huge adjustment for me. An even greater challenge now is living the life of an entrepreneur.

Give it a listen and would love to hear if you’re in the same boat!

And Thanks Catherine for a great time!

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Turning Heads: Farmers on Social Media

This week I was interviewed on Illinois Farm Bureau Radio, which to my surprise is carried on nearly two dozen radio stations in Illinois and Iowa. Host Julie Root of the program Farm Week Now, interviewed me along with Emily Webel, mother of four and co-operator (along with her husband) of a livestock and grain farm in central Illinois. Emily tells her story  through her blog Confessions of a Farm Wife.

We talked about why social media is gaining popularity among farmers and agri-businesses ranging from honey farmers, corn and grain producers, organic farmers and livestock producers.

 

You can listen to the radio interview AND read Julie Root’s blog post on our interview. The audio can be found in a radio box on the left side of Julie’s blog. You can also hear Julie’s entire radio interview at http://www.farmweeknow.com/radio.aspx by looking for the “Morning Programs” and click on the date March 23, 2011. Our segment ran started about 25 minutes into the program. It was a lot of fun!

Follow Julie Root on Twitter @Julie_RFDRadio

 

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Media interview — Thrill or terror?

DFID Youth Reporter interviews Minouche Shafik

Image by DFID – UK Department for International Development via Flickr

It’s the payoff for all your hard work—a news reporter has discovered your company’s fantastic new product or service. She wants to learn more about you. You’re torn between feelings of thrill and terror. Done right, mass media coverage can boost your credibility, increase awareness and lead to a spike in leads or sales. Done wrong, you may miss the chance to communicate the benefits of your product or service and fritter away your 15 minutes of fame.

Being questioned by a reporter is challenging for the inexperienced and unprepared. When I was a news reporter for WXRT and WBEZ in Chicago, I conducted hundreds of interviews every year for 15 years. I could easily discern the skilled interviewee from the newbie. For the skilled, the interview is a tango – a dance full of bold yet graceful moves, with accents on the appropriate twists and turns.  For the unskilled, an interview is like sitting through dental work without painkillers.

The key to mastering any interview is being in control and doing the advance work that inspires confidence. So park your jitters and skepticism at the door. This is the first in a series of tips on preparing for and controlling a media interview.

“Control” doesn’t mean manipulate. It means crafting a compelling message for your target audience and using the tactics and discipline needed to make sure the reporter understands and repeats that message in the story.

Just as the first step in the sales process is to understand the customer’s needs, the first step in the interview process is to know what the reporter needs and to whom he/she is communicating. Even before scheduling your interview, find out details so you understand what the reporter is looking for. Learn about their beat, media outlet and its audience.  As you coordinate scheduling, don’t hesitate to ask the following:

  • What’s your story about?
  • Do you have a specific angle in mind?
  • Will you conduct the interview in person or by phone? (Many now will send questions via email, which is great because you have more time to think about your answers, and you have a written record if you’re misquoted.)
  • Who else have you talked to?
  • How did you hear about me/my company/product?
  • What is your deadline?
  • When will you run this story?

I advise clients not to ask to review or approve the story before it runs. Allowing a source to edit his/her own story is viewed as an attempt to control coverage. Reporters may follow up with you to check their facts. But no respectable media outlet would allow you to edit (or in their view, censor) a reporter’s work.

After getting answers to those questions, do some simple research to learn a little bit about the reporter. A Google search will reveal the latest stories written by that person, as well as their interests, beats, and tone of their writing. Often news organizations will provide a reporter’s bio in the “Contact” or “Staff” directory of the outlet’s web site.

If none is available, keep digging. With so many media people on Facebook, Twitter and other popular social networks, you’re likely to find helpful information about a reporter’s background, personality and approach to his interview subjects.

Next tip: Preparing for the interview.

 Post happily written by Michelle Damico 

 

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Scrap the Obituary, the Elevator Pitch is Alive and Well

Elevator
Image via Wikipedia

That was the question that sparked my interest today, as I read my Inc.com Today’s Small Business Newsletter. It was a post by venture capital blogger Mark Peter Davis who claimed that the all-important elevator pitch, relied upon by business start ups seeking investment bankers’ money, is kaput. Here’s a link to his post.

Entrepreneurs, The Elevator Pitch is Dead

I am not in the VC funding business. I work with entrepreneurs and well-established business people who want to get their messages placed succinctly online and in the media. Before I write any copy, make one phone call or send one email about my clients, I work with them to polish their key messages, and yes, that includes helping them with an elevator pitch. So I had a strong opinion today when I left this comment on Davis’ blog post:

Mark, as someone who spends a lot of time helping clients improve their messaging, I disagree that the elevator pitch is dead. My guess is it’s still alive in the VC industry too. No matter what business you’re in, a business person needs a strong pitch that captures folks’ attention and that’s what an elevator pitch does. It’s also a conversation starter and a way to get a dialogue going by teasing someone to ask further questions.

Also, if you work with the media — bloggers and/or reporters/editors who write for traditional newspapers, magazines, tv or radio — you’ll always need an elevator pitch. The media especially (and the social media crowd as a whole, in my opinion) need that one strong sentence that captures the essence of what you do, how you serve your customers and why it’s important in the first place. In fact, I believe anyone looking for a job should also have an elevator pitch that summarizes their strengths and skills. The elevator pitch should answer questions and get a conversation going.

Something else to consider — this is the era of short attention spans. We’re all multi-tasking as we communicate, so crafting an attention-grabbing elevator pitch about your business or yourself is one of the best ways to get remembered.
What do you think? Do you use an elevator pitch in your daily working life? What would your business be without one? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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