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How to Get Media Publicity

by E. Braunstein, Courtship Stories

Here are my suggestions for successful media publicity:

Target your release to the publication. So many businesses think they can fit a square peg in a round hole. Unless you are an advertiser with clout, editors and writers want stories that meet their readers' needs--not your need to sell your product. Is there a "local angle" to your press release? Localize the release and send it to the daily newspaper in the area. Are there different uses for your product? Alter the same press release to fit publications that reach the different audiences.

Examples: I wrote a Courtship Story booklet for a Jewish couple. A press release featuring the Jewish couple was sent to Jewish weekly newspapers with their permission. Then I a wrote about a Milwaukee couple and sent an altered release to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. I wrote yet another release designed for wedding magazines. Editors love press releases that include local angles. Writing different releases takes time but it increases your chance of placement.

Make it easy for editors to give you publicity. Editors and writers prefer PR that makes their job easy, so have all the information in the press kit. Add a fact sheet. Keep your points brief. The points or facts may be used in a graphic about your product.

Write press releases like a journalist. Press releases are not ads. Strip adjectives such as special, unique, highest quality, state of the art. These are meaningless words. Look at articles that talk about similar products and services. Copy their style. Quote yourself in your press release. Following an example of an ad-like media release. If you can write a beginning like this, you'll get an editor’s attention fast:

The wrong way to start a press release:

"A Courtship Story booklet is a unique and different wedding favor."

A journalistic approach: 

"Remember the last wedding you went to? No? Ms. Braunstein of Redlands is about to change that with her business, Courtship Stories. Instead of flowers that fade and trinkets that break, Braunstein prepares keepsake booklets that tell the story of each couple's courtship and love."

Offer yourself as an expert source. If your product is not new or it's something old with a new twist, suggest offering yourself as an expert source for a story. Suggest story ideas in your press release; i.e., a story on the trend toward more personalized wedding favors. Say you'll write the story. Then get help if you are not a writer. You can't quote yourself, but you can ad a tag line after the story that says who you are and what you do. Because you are writing it for free, the editor should agree to run the tag line.

Delivery Guidelines. Unless the publication is an e-zine, you should send press releases by mail. Don't waste your office supplies and extra postage by sending pocket folders, however; they get thrown away immediately. Follow up with a phone call a few weeks later. Ask if they are going to run a story. Ask if there's any more information they need.

Don't Send the Product Itself. If you describe your product well and include photographs, there is no reason to send the product itself. Instead, include photos or art with your press release. Or send a CD that includes the press release, photos and other art (either on CD or mention you can send it by e-mail).

© 2006 by E. Braunstein

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Braunstein is a newspaper journalist with seventeen years’ experience. Before that, she had a public relations firm. Today, she is hired by businesses to write media releases. She also owns Courtship-Stories.com, a wedding favors business that involves the creation of illustrated booklets that tell a couple's courtship story. "Editors are interested in the product because it's a new idea, and because they also appreciate my journalism approach to writing these stories," she says. 

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