Tuesday, September 21, 2010

PR For Beginners

Guest post by Jim Schakenbach

Using PR correctly starts with constructing your message and its delivery so that your news releases communicate clearly and effectively. So often, companies send out press releases packed with self-congratulatory, cliche-ridden, unfocused information that seems designed to cause editors to either scratch their heads in confusion and throw the release out, or simply fall asleep under the influence of dull and leaden text.

To avoid this, use benefit-oriented headlines that quickly convey the advantages of your product or service. Provide the "who, what, where, when, and how" of your message in the opening paragraph. Craft short, punchy paragraphs that position your product in the marketplace, relative to the competition, to give the editor perspective and background. Concise, "bullet" points can provide a feature-by-feature rundown of what you have to offer without wasting the editor's time with lengthy text. Above all else, use plain language.

If your release is more corporate than product, be sure to attribute all statements to a company spokesperson and provide some good, quotable statements that an editor can extract and use. Then make sure that person is available to speak with an editor and to provide more information. Have contact information, including title, telephone number, and email address right at the top of the release. Be sure also to include your web site URL somewhere, perhaps as part of the address bar at the bottom of the page.

Need to include more information? Avoid attaching documents to your email; instead, include all text right in the body of the email rather than as a separate, attached file. With so many viruses lurking on the Internet, many people avoid or simply delete attachments if they are not sure where they came from. As a result, you may risk having a key part of your message eliminated before an editor even looks at it.

If you supply photos or other graphics, be sure to include a caption to make the editor's job easier and to increase the likelihood of your photos being used. Clearly identify any people in a photo and state the purpose and benefit of any products shown.

In short, if you treat both editors and readers with respect, you will achieve better results. Properly provide all necessary information for editors to make informed decisions about your release - your chances of getting published grow exponentially with a complete, professional-looking news release. Likewise, provide information that is interesting and useful to your audience, not self-congratulatory, self-serving fluff. If they see value in the information you are conveying in your news release, they will see value in your company and its products or services.

Jim Schakenbach, owner of BIGWORDS Content Development, is a freelance writer and marketing communications consultant working primarily with B2B and technology accounts. He specializes in creating clear, compelling marketing messages for complex products and technologies. Email him at  jim@bigwordscontent.com, visit his website at http://www.bigwordscontent.com.

1 comment:

Who links to my website?