Articles Tagged with article

Yikes! What is stopping you?

Many of us have things that we put off doing.

Yikes! What is stopping you?

Last weekend I started installing loft insulation we bought four years ago. It’s a horrible job and there are plenty of good excuses for doing something else. However, winter is here and the difference in warmth it has made already is amazing.

Of course, now I am asking myself: “Why didn’t I do this before?”

Not trying avoids disappointment

It’s the same with many things in business, especially PR. People think about it, but it can seem a bit scary. What if I send off a press release and no one is interested? What if I call a journalist and get a grumpy rejection? Sometimes it’s easier not to try so we don’t get disappointed.

With my journalist’s hat on, there is nothing that delights me more than an email from a small business that I have featured in the business pages I write. Many are so pleased to see their photo and read about their activities. And many say they get business as a result of their article.

Could we have succeeded?

Although this approach avoids disappointment, it also prevents us from fulfilling our potential. Could we have succeeded? Who knows? But our competitors will probably lap up publicity if we don’t try.

Is there anything stopping you from using PR for your business?

We’d like to hear from you if there is anything stopping you from using PR in your business. If you leave a comment below, we’ll try to provide an answer that helps. Lack of budget is a common barrier, but there is a lot you can do yourself if you have time.

So if there is anything stopping you and you’d like to ask about it, now is your chance.

Three stories waiting to be deciphered

Press releases work best when there is a clear focus on one story. From the headline and the first sentence you know what it’s about.

Sometimes I receive press releases with no clear story or three little stories or even no story. I’ve even had press releases passed to me by colleagues with the comment: “I think there’s a story in there somewhere.”

You have to work hard to figure it out and if it’s not obvious, you give up, which wastes the effort of writing the press release.

If you have three stories, write three press releases to get maximum coverage. If they’re crammed into one article, you’ll lose the impact and, if it does get published, no one will realise what it’s really about.

You could also find that different stories appeal to different segments of your target audience. So you could send one story to publications for one segment and another story to publications aimed at a different group.

Good stories are valuable. Don’t waste them.

How sure must we be of facts?

If a customer asks for a written quotation, most businesses will honour it, even if they attach a time limit to it.

If a customer places an order on the basis of that quotation, they’ll very likely get angry if they get charged more or lots of extras are added without warning. Depending on the wording, they could even take the business to court if they had been misled.

Is there any difference with PR? Not really. Even if what we say is vague, people are likely to remember it and hold us to it. If we maintain we made a spur-of-the-moment remark, it does our reputation no good to withdraw it. Will people trust us again? Probably not.

That’s why it’s important to ensure that information we give out publicly – in a press release, article or spoken interview – is accurate.

Don’t be tempted if you’re not sure

Sometimes journalists will press for figures, especially if they seem impressive. It can be very tempting to blurt them out, like a bee unable to resist sweet honey, but the negative publicity if we get it wrong could be damaging. We could say our profits had increased by 15% and then find they had actually fallen by 5%. Not a good idea.

And remember not to mention sensitive information, especially if it has to be approved by a third party. If a partner organisation or customer or supplier finds out that we have given out information about them that they considered confidential, it could be disaster for our business.

We need to be sure of our facts before making them public.

Keep data at hand

If you find it hard to remember details, create a one-page summary of key information about your business or specific projects on your laptop, tablet device or phone or print it out to carry with you so you always have it to hand.

Build a checklist for details and data into your PR plan so that it becomes part of your business process and you are always prepared for journalists’ questions.

And remember that in the long run it is usually better to say we don’t know the answer rather than fudging it and looking stupid later.

 

It doesn’t matter if you don’t call back . . .

. . . if you don’t want to take advantage of publicity for your business.

In my role as a newspaper writer I continue to wonder at how many businesses lose out on media coverage simply by not returning calls or responding to emails from journalists. If they’ve got more business than they can handle, that’s their decision, but how many businesses are operating at full capacity or don’t need more business?

I know people are busy and can’t always respond instantly, but an attempt to return a call to get a comment or article in the paper at no cost would seem to be worth the effort. Perhaps they think it won’t do them any good.

I know from writing for a local newspaper that editorial does generate enquiries. That’s why many businesses I’ve covered previously contact me again when they have some news they think will interest me.

Perhaps they think they won’t be able to talk about their business coherently. Surely they talk coherently to their customers or else they wouldn’t make any sales. There’s not much difference.

And what if the call is about something negative, such as the horsemeat scandal? If you can comment knowledgeably or have a food business where you can demonstrate traceability and quality, you do have the opportunity to benefit.

So the next time a journalist calls for a comment, take a moment to think about the opportunity and what you want to say before calling them back promptly.

 

Are they interested in what you’re interested in?

When you’ve got something you want to tell the rest of the world, it’s easy to rattle on enthusiastically about what you find interesting, usually something of great value to your business. But how do you know if a journalist or editor will find it interesting too?

Even large organisations and public relations agencies sometimes forget to ask this.

A call to a journalist, if they’re accessible, can confirm what, if anything, will interest them in your story, while familiarity with a publication can help you to tailor your press release, article or other news snippet to its specific readership.

If you’re managing your own PR, you can do this yourself. If you pay an agency, make sure that they are tailoring releases to targeted media.

It’s worth doing, as if you’re going to send out press releases, or pay someone else to write and send them out, you’ll get better value for money if your news has a chance of actually being published.

Posted via web from z2zine

If a picture can paint a thousand words . . .

. . . why are they all questions?

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What is that? Where is it? When was it? Why was it there? What was the point? Who did it? Is it still there? Is that an inflatable? What gas was used to inflate it? Who chose the colours? Where did it come from? Will it be there again? Is that a mountain or a hill? Is it inland or on the coast? What are those brown patches on the hill/mountain?

That’s already 15 questions in just 72 words, so just think how many questions you could ask in a thousand words.

So does that mean words are more effective for communicating than pictures?

Of course not: both are useful in different ways. A picture or photograph can grab attention specifically because people want to find out more about a stunning image. For example, the BBC England website news page often has an ‘England’s Big Picture’ feature showing a partial image to tease viewers into opening it up to see if it is what they think it is. Stunning photography or images that tease can be useful in PR and marketing to attract people to read accompanying text.

In the same way, intriguing headlines can grab readers’ attention so that they read an accompanying article or text. News papers and websites make imaginative use of words in this way and, within reason, press releases and articles can do the same, as long as they do not mislead.

So what are more effective: words or pictures?

Neither. When applied with skill, one will not be more effective but will complement the other. If anything, a great photo will be let down by lousy writing, while a well-written article can be buried by poor illustration or layout.

When they work well together, the reader won’t take any notice of the composition of a photograph or style of writing but be totally engrossed in the message they convey.

That’s certainly our aim.

What can a press release do for me?

When something happens in a business, a press release is often used to tell the world about it.

Fine.

Does the world listen?

Not everyone: perhaps 10, 100, 1,000 or a million, depending on how interesting the news is, how well the story is told and what else is happening that is newsworthy.

So what’s the point of a press release?

To tell an interesting story that people will want to hear.

Is that all?

To be of any use it should link back to you so that people make a note of your name and awareness of your business grows. Depending on the strength of the story, the press release could attract actual business through visits to a web site or real shop, telephone or mail orders, attendance at events or other responses.

But it’s too much to rely on a single press release to drive continuing sales. It’s a good idea to plan a whole public relations programme over a period of time, based on a number of press releases, articles, events and other activities and tied in to the rest of your marketing communications. Identifying an objective (eg getting a new product name known by your customers) and planning your press release can make the difference between it reaching hundreds or thousands of people or just reaching a couple of journalists on its way to the bin. And so can the way you tell your story: bare facts are likely to be as exciting as reading a tax return, while a real story, such as how you turned a near disaster into a success, can capture your target audience’s imagination.

Like everything else we do in business, we’re more likely to get the best out of a press release if we understand what we want from it and how it can achieve this for us.

After Friday’s blog, have you thought about your writing or blogging style and how you appear to others?

z2zine tomorrow: Does anyone know what you do?

Follow us on twitter @z2zine

Taking PR opportunities

Ever thought of writing an article? Everybody seems to be doing it. Only, not all articles are worth reading.

Even I don’t get as much time as I would like to blog on here, because I’m usually writing or editing articles or material for clients.

However, articles can be very useful for promoting your business or demonstrating your industry knowledge or expertise.

On our www.editorialresources.co.uk site we’ve just published a new free prompt on ‘how to write a business article’. It won’t write the article for you, but aims to give you pointers with regard to structure, style and content.

If you want or need to write an article and don’t know where to start, we hope this will help you.

Robert Zarywacz

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