Thursday, August 11, 2011

Writing a Press Release That Gets Attention - Part 2

Just in case you missed it, last week I went over the purpose of a press release and how to decide your angle. Today I want to share some tips on how to get the media to use your press release and how to begin cultivating your list of press contacts.

Getting the Media to Pay Attention

If you take only one thing away from these two articles it should be this: The idea is to make a writer or editor’s job easier. They are always looking for content that their readers will enjoy and you are actually doing them a favor by sharing your story. The key is to find an interesting angle, unique approach, or tie in to a current trend. Additionally you need to illustrate how your story will be interesting to the particular readers of that publication.

Another way to look at it is to write a simplified version of the article you’d love to see published. Include all the necessary details and quotes, refer to any supporting material or articles, and show why your story is relevant. Some blogs that only use short posts may take a paragraph or two directly from your press release and pair it with a few photos. Magazines that write longer pieces will use your press release as a jumping off point, but do their own interview and/or research to flesh it out and provide their own take.

How Do I Even Know Where To Send It?

This is the part of the process that takes the most time and some might even argue is the most important. No matter how well written and informative your press release, if you send it to the wrong person it won’t get noticed. Finding the right person is about doing research and knowing your target audience.

Start off by making a list of magazines, newspapers and blogs that you think would be interested in your story. Then begin the research. You’ll want to look at back issues to make sure they publish the type of story you want to pitch. Make note of what section seems most appropriate, hot new trends, gift guides, profiles, or a feature article. Come at it from different angles, you might be able to get a profile in the small business section of your local paper, product coverage in a national women’s magazine, and an interview in a handmade or craft centered blog.

Then you need to find out who specifically to send your email to. Look at bylines and the masthead for names of writer and editors of the right columns and sections. If you're lucky emails will be posted, but if you can only get a name that’s a start. Also look for writer's whose name you see popping up in several magazines and blogs, they are most likely freelance and will have a number of publications they are writing similar stories for.

Now you’ll most likely need to pick up the phone. This may make many of you cringe, I know it’s my least favorite part of the process. However if you keep your call brief and to the point and even practice what you’re going to say ahead of time, you’ll be surprised at how easy it can be.

If you’ve been able to find the name of the writer or editor you want contact, call the main number for the publication and tell the receptionist that you want to send a press release to so-and-so. Most likely they’ll have no problem giving you an email address. If you don’t have a name to go on give them a brief, very brief, description of your pitch and ask them who the best person would be to send it to. For example: "I sell handmade soaps and we're launching a new line. Who's the best person to send my press release to, a beauty editor perhaps?" Don’t overwhelm the receptionist with details, she wants to help you, but has other things to do.

Building on the Basics

Besides just going to publications you’re already familiar with look to your competitors and target audience for more ideas. See if your competitors have a press page on their website, who’s written about them? Or do a google search to see what comes up.

If you’re connected to your target market via Facebook and Twitter, look at what articles they share or ask them what they read. Do these publications seem like a good fit for you? Also look to your blog circle. Most blogs list links of favorites or friends, look through these to find other suitable outlets. Then do the research outlined above.

Putting together your media list is an ongoing process. You’ll constantly be finding new publications to reach out and your contacts will often change jobs, so you’ll need to update. If you set aside a few hours a month, you can always have an up to date and well targeted list.

Now get sending!

I encourage comments directly to this post, but also feel free to email me directly with questions, reactions, struggles, etc.

If you're an Etsy seller in the San Francisco Bay Area, contact Jen from Mama's Magic Studio about joining SFEtsy!

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