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Press Releases: Making Yours Count

We originally had far more content, here. It was provided by "experts" who have since gone out of business! Their stuff was bloated, which is why they went out of business.

Now we have our own tips--from years of working with PR firms from various sides of the desk (as a magazine editor, as a writer for PR firms, as an editor for PR firms, as a PR firm client). So, now you have good information--and it's not a heavy read!

 

Tips by , who works with PR agencies all the time

Tips for working with press releases and PR agencies:

  • Magazines and other media aren't going to focus on your world. They are going to focus on the needs of their audiences.
     
  • A good press release serves the needs of the reader. Thus, it explains how you solve a problem and what benefits you bring. It's not about you--it's about them.
     
  • Press releases need to be short and to the point. A good PR firm will "write tight" and produce short copy that is free of hyperbole. Don't think you're getting a better deal if you get 5 pages instead of 400 words. Don't expect (or condone) blurbs about how great you are or how wonderful your company is.
  • Nobody cares about who your company president is, how hard you work, etc. Readers do care if you can do something for them.
     
  • Every message must be targeted to a particular audience, and provide a focused message that appeals to that audience.

 Services a PR firm typically provides:

  • Press release consultation. What is your message, who is your audience, and what publications do you want to address?
     

  • Press release writing. Most people greatly overestimate their writing ability, while being completely oblivious to the nuances of effective writing. Don't micromanage the PR firm's writing.
     

  • Media relations coaching. Your PR firm should know the media pertinent to your market. Let them guide you into making the best use of your contact with these media. A small error on your part can cause doors to slam in your face.
     

  • Campaign project management. Your PR firm will plan, execute, and track a media campaign. Ask for reports, but don't try to "save money" by working in parallel with them. If you want to save money, ask the PR firm what legwork you can do. Explain your budgetary issues, and ask for workable solutions.

What not to do

  • Don't demand your "money's worth" in the form of long copy. When I was an editor, I would get 800 word product releases even though our guidelines limited those to 100 words. So, those long releases go tossed without being read. Why did PR firms send us these? Because their clients objected to "paying good money for a small product release." The PR firms did what their clients demanded, even though it was exactly the thing not to do. Bigger is not better.
     

  • Don't insist on specific things to be in your releases (product, press, etc.). Let the PR firm conform to the publication's guidelines, or you are simply wasting your money and their talent.
     

  • Don't send a PR firm inflated information. This will only result in failed ad copy. Instead, carefully review your text for accuracy and relevance. Remove all hype.
     

  • Don't make frequent changes. This will send your PR campaign into an expensive tailspin.
     

  • Don't micromanage. You hired a PR firm. Let them do their jobs.
     

  • Don't modify the ad copy. Many people fancy themselves great writers, despite the fact their grasp of Standard Written English is measurably poor. You do your job, and let the PR firm do theirs.
     

  • Don't run parallel campaigns of your own. Instead, coordinate everything with your PR firm. If you ignore this tip, you will probably sink both campaigns.

What not to expect

  • Miracles. A PR firm can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
     

  • Instant riches. Publicity takes time to be effective.
     

  • Constant attention. You aren't the only client. If you act as though you are, the PR firm will have no choice but to lower the quality of service you receive and/or bill you for the extra time you are costing them.
     

  • Automatic inclusion in the publications of our choice. Editors of these publications decide who gets in. PR firms do not. All a PR firm can do is provide the editors with what those editors want and then hope for the best. This doesn't mean it's a crapshoot--editors are very picky about what they will even consider, so a good PR firm is essential to passing that first hurdle.

 

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