Archive for March, 2009

Five tips for news releases that get read

for more RACKAfracka see

for more RACKAfracka see

“So just what is news, these days?” Mr. Higgens asked me the last week. “Should I just go out front and be a flasher? That would get me noticed.”

He’s right of course. On the second part. But is that really news you want for your organization? (I guess it depends on what business you’re in.)

Good media relations are definitely based on offering story ideas and tips to the media that are relevant to their editorial plans, offer interesting links to current events, or present new information that will be of interest to their readers.

I always think back to the days when I edited a women’s magazine. Our tagline line was “Empowering Women,” and a quick scan would have told you that while it was a general women’s magazine, there was a definite feminist slant.

One day I received a typ0-ridden news release from a local strip bar announcing that one of their top strippers was becoming their first female bartender. In the early 90s, this was the bar’s acknowledgment that women, by watching men do their job, could finally move up the corporate pole, er ladder. The accompanying photo was of the new bartender, dressed not as a barkeep, but swirling on her pole. It was news, but I didn’t believe it was news my readers would be interested in.

Here are five tips to help you figure out if you have news of interest – and if it’s good for you to announce:

  1. Be interesting. Would you read your announcement if it was about another business? If you think you should be profiled because you are nice and have a business on main street…sorry, that’s not news.
  2. Do your research. Read the media you are sending to, and learn what they cover and who reads them. Once you envision the readers, it’s much easier to write to them.
  3. Stay informed. Know what’s news in your category and respond to it. If your community is experiencing a rash of break-ins and you have a security business, offer tips to the public to keep their properties safe.
  4. Be genuine. By offering free information to the public, you will earn goodwill for your organization. No media will be interested in a news release suggesting people hire you. For that, buy an ad.
  5. Make it easy. Write your news release as if it is a news story (there are hundreds of templates on-line). Tie it into local news, if applicable, or make your news announcement in the first paragraph or two. Make it easy for the editor and you will earn a fan.

Okay, here’s #6 as an add-on: Include your email and phone number…then be sure to be available if they call. Please remember that the media is doing you a favour, not the other way around. Don’t ask for an interview, then try to dictate the rules. Journalists are very busy and have grueling deadlines; therefore, you are on their schedule. More than one disgruntled person who didn’t return a reporter’s call has had their topic covered but with quotes from a competitor.

As for Higgens, he didn’t flash anybody, nor did he make the 6:00 news. He went home armed with all the local papers, a list of TV stations and an assignment to determine how he can speak to the public.


Wherefore art thou, Canadian media?

CTV cuts 118 jobs

CTV cuts 118 jobs

Last night I attended an excellent evening hosted by Douglas business magazine in Victoria. Highlighting the Top 10 businesses to watch in Victoria, publishers also announced their new city lifestyle magazine YAM.

This is interesting news in challenging times. Earlier the same day, CTVglobemedia Inc. announced the layoffs of 118 staff at stations across Canada, including 18 at A Channel in Victoria. Just three months ago, Victoria’s other station, CHEK, layed off 19 staff and is for sale.

What’s the underlying story? Well at last night’s  event I ended up in the corner with a knot of local journalists and the subject naturally strayed to the current state of the media. It didn’t take much to agree that media is in decline, but we didn’t all agree on what’s next.

I fear newspapers are soon to be dead. Too bad, because I love spending weekend mornings in bed with a pot of tea and a stack of newspapers. But during the week, I depend on RSS feeds and my favourite news sites. Citizen journalists aren’t just a bunch of yahoos…many are professional journalists who are contributing to news sites as events unfold from around the world. This may be the new economic model, and the new social model. Heck, you’re reading a blog, aren’t you?

What does this mean for PR? More social media, yes, but we need to integrate these tools into other areas of PR. We also need to ensure that we remain accessible to ALL  people we need to consult and inform, otherwise our results are seriously skewed.