How many decisions did your organization make last year? How many ideas did committee members implement? There’s a good chance a bunch of those were legitimate news or great feature stories — and you may have missed some opportunities for more media love.
You might dismiss the work you do in the background because it’s just the normal course of business. You’re also so busy doing what you do that you function as though you don’t have time to tell anyone. What would happen if you did a press release every time you made a fairly significant decision about an upcoming event?
I’m not talking about brainstorming sessions; lots of great ideas are set aside or die for a plethora of reasons. I’m talking about the decision to host an event in a particular place or plans that involve other groups, businesses or volunteers.
The opportunities for traditional media coverage are huge in many cases — and taking the time to deliver quality press releases can translate into enhanced relationships with those (mostly) hard-working, well-meaning people working at media outlets and more media love for you.
How do you know when it’s news or not? Put yourself in the shoes of a local chamber of commerce director, a potential member of your organization or prospective customer for starters. Consider how they’d feel if they knew you were coming to a location near them. If you think they might like to know, would be even a little bit impressed, excited, included or more engaged, get your news out there!
You never know when a “slow” news day will challenge someone working to give their audience something interesting and valuable. So, even if you think there’s no way your less-than-major news will make the top of a broadcast or the front page of a print or online publication (think tv, radio, print and screen), deliver it (but don’t you dare deliver it as a broadcast email; see related blog posts on that topic).
Your press release does not have to be long or earth-shattering; as long as it’s not fluff, write it and send it. At the very least it may wind up being used as a feature story (which sometimes can get more attention and traction than a news story).
I think one of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to getting media attention is overlooking the “hooks” that translate into stories in:
- local media outlets (somebody in your organization may be doing great stuff, but you need to customize your press release in a way that “speaks to” those local media people);
- industry publications (your event might be featuring a session or product in XYZ industry — a blip on your radar, but very interesting to that industry);
- special (themed) sections of print pubs (yes, they still exist, and you want to maintain your credibility with them between times you really, really need them).
The way some organizations communicated with me when I was a senior editor in a group of four newspapers irritated the living daylights out of me. They’d be silent for eleven months and come flying in under the wire before their annual event, begging for (and sometimes demanding) an article or few. I’m begging you to not be that way.
Plan ahead. Block time in your calendar (or delegate this key piece of your public education, outreach, or marketing campaign) and consider what has happened in your organization at least once a month. Look at planned events and put a note in your calendar a sold six weeks prior to begin drafting — especially if you need to run your release by another person or few. Take it a step further and see how many other key decisions you’ll be making in the months before the event. Note those dates and consider the possibility of delivering a custom press release or few.
I challenge you to deliver more quality press releases this year than you’ve ever sent in the past. If you follow my “How to Get More Media Love” guide, I promise (this side of a natural disaster or arrest of a prominent citizen trumping your news), you’ll get more stories in more places about your organization. As cool and important as that is, the bonus is enhanced credibility and better relationships with people you heretofore simply thought of as your media contacts.
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