What’s bubbling away in your business?

This morning I was thinking about blog topics for today when the boiling water in the kettle brought to mind a blog by Suzan St Maur about selling the ‘sizzle in your sausage’.

I thought of some of the press releases I receive as a journalist which often have the potential for a good story bubbling away, but never quite reach the boil.

It reminded me that when I receive a press release, I want to be excited by it. Yes, I want to understand it fast, I want it well written, I want accurate details, but above all I want to be excited enough to publish it.

In her blog, Suzan asks Do you know what you’re REALLY selling before you write about it?. Suzan’s blog comments on an article by Tsufit on ‘How To Attract New Clients in Just 30 Seconds’ which asks “If you don’t know what you’re selling, how can you sell it?”

As well as knowing what we’re selling – and Suzan’s blog covers this brilliantly – there is a danger when preparing PR material that the process takes the heat out of the story. This can happen where a press release is written, then circulated to a distribution list for comment and approval, passed by the corporate style police and perfected by committee to leave it stone cold.

But it’s not just big organisations that can freeze a story that is so hot it needs handling with oven gloves. Often we can be so engrossed in form and detail that we forget the story. It’s vital that we maintain the excitement in any story unless we want it to end up as a bedtime tale to send the reader to sleep.

That means expressing all the energy, enthusiasm and excitement of our business or product or service and the reason we love what we do. If we can get all this across, we can excite journalists and editors, and, in turn, their readers.

Thank you to Suzan and Tsufit for bringing me to the boil!

What is bubbling away in your business?

Why are some press releases like lost baggage at an airport?

Why are some press releases like lost baggage at an airport?

When I worked in communications for an international airline, I remember a tour behind the scenes at a Heathrow passenger terminal and seeing heaps of suitcases and bags piled up.

Sometimes I imagine there are similar heaps of press releases which haven’t reached their intended destination or were not clearly labelled.

Where do press releases go?

If you send a press release to ‘the editor’ or not addressed to a specific individual at a publication, you can expect it to land on a heap somewhere.

Press releases sometimes get passed from one journalist to another at a publication with comments such as ‘any use?’ attached.

Is that the response you want when it’s taken hours or days to get information, obtain a quote from a customer and get them to approve the release, met with your PR consultant and paid them to write and distribute your press release?

How much has ‘any use?’ cost you?

Does this really happen? Yes.

Is it your lucky day?

With luck, press releases do reach the appropriate journalist. I always take a look at press releases passed to me, even if I wince at their content and decide not to use them.

I suspect that many more end up on the ‘discarded’ heap.

This is a shame, considering the work, resources and time that have gone into producing them, especially when a little research and targeting could have prevented this.

It’s useful to keep the image of lost baggage in your mind when distributing press releases and, just as when you jet off on your hard-earned holiday, think: destination.

Did they miss your story?

When working as a journalist, I keep my eyes peeled for certain topics. When I read a press release, I expect it to be about the topic in the headline and introductory paragraph, but last week I found a second story embedded further on in a press release. I left this out of the article I was writing, but it happened that this second story was of more interest to me than the main one.

This could have been dangerous for the company sending the press release as the second story could easily have been missed or ignored. They’re lucky as I’ve taken the effort to interview them for a second article, so they’ve managed two out of one, but they very nearly threw away that second story.

I suggest sticking to one story per press release. Many businesses struggle to find any interesting stories, so it’s best to use them sparingly. It also helps to create a flow of interesting stories to maintain awareness.

Busy journalists and editors can skim the beginning of a press release and never reach the bottom paragraphs. Whether that’s right or wrong, it’s not worth the risk of wasting time and money invested in your public relations programme.

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