The fable about the oil driller who tossed in the towel just feet before reaching liquid gold is a good analogy for what most small businesses term their failed publicity programs. They send out five, maybe even ten, news releases, nothing happens, and they quit disappointed and without a clue of how close they came to achieving the result they so badly desired. To generate publicity for your business, commit to a long-haul program and keep the following in mind:
– Don’t expect instant or even consistent results. Most news releases never make it into the media. Don’t expect to bat 1.000, or .500, or even .250.
– Tailor your story to individual editorial contacts. Universal news releases the same exact releases sent to all media are less apt to be picked up than releases that are customized to specific audiences and news vehicles.
– Don’t try to get news coverage as a perk for your advertising investments. To obtain news coverage, submit newsworthy information and avoid anything that smacks of editorial arm-twisting. Your advertising investment will help your publicity effort only in that it will pave the way by building awareness, so that when your release arrives, your editorial contacts will be familiar with your name and brand.
– Don’t peddle hype as news. If the focus of your story is why you think your product is better than that of a competitor, that’s hype. But if your story announces a major change of importance to the public, that’s news. Newsworthy releases announce financial results, special events, awards given or received, staffing or management changes, reactions to legal or financial difficulties, and announcements of new products, technology, or industry updates.
– Don’t hound the media. Never demand an explanation for why a release hasn’t run. If you are concerned that your releases are being ignored, buy an hour or two of a publicist’s time to receive a professional assessment of your efforts and to obtain guidance for presenting your news in the future. Also see the section on “Establishing media contacts” for help in establishing editorial relationships.
– Aim for quality not quantity. Don’t try to get publicity by papering the world with releases and don’t write releases that are even one sentence longer than they need to be. Send releases only when you have news of interest to readers or viewers. Keep each release hype-free and to the point. Follow a standard or electronic news release format (see the following sections), and get it right in terms of grammar and typing.