Articles Tagged with magazine

Make the front cover with a stunning photo

#SillySeasonPR #7

Make the front cover with a stunning photo #SillySeasonPR

Make the front cover with a stunning photo

We spend a lot of time thinking about the text of a press release, but must not forget the power of photos and images.

I was lucky to take a photo of Ilfracombe, where I live, when the conditions were perfect and I tweeted the view. A lot of people loved the photo and a local estate agent asked if they could use it as the front cover of their magazine which is distributed across the UK.

Now, I try to help promote the town so I agreed, making sure I get a credit for the photo.

I always carry a camera with me to capture those ‘perfect’ shots and it’s a good practice to do this in business, so that when something happens that makes an interesting visual image, you can capture it there and then.

Planned photography, where you can set up specific shots, can be very powerful too.

So don’t neglect images. Very often I receive an interesting press release, but when I ask for a photo, receive a lousy image. These photos are often left out and the stories get lost because they are just a column or two of text. If they were headed by a stunning image, more people would read them.

Take action

Looking out existing photos or thinking up ones you can take is your #SillySeason PR task #7.

Good luck and do ask any questions you have.

Tomorrow: ? Visit to find out

Use the content and tips in our videos and posts below to boost your business.


Mix the right raw ingredients to cook up the perfect PR meal

Mix the right raw ingredients to cook up the perfect PR meal
I really enjoy cooking as a way to wind down.

I don’t know if it’s because it takes me away from my keyboard or because it results in a physical product, but anyway I find it very relaxing.

How do you make a meal from individual ingredients?

One of the things that fascinates me is how you take raw ingredients – today it was raw beef mince, onion, celery, carrot, tomato, butter, flour, milk, herbs and pasta – and combine them to make something new and totally different, but hopefully tasty. I was lucky in that today everything came together as a lasagne.

Combine your PR ingredients

It got me thinking that it’s the same with PR. You take your raw ingredients – your story, facts, quotes and photographs – to produce a tasty PR dish. The higher the quality of your ingredients, the tastier the story is for journalists. So if you have a mouth-watering photo, journalists are more likely to bite.

A press release on its own will not necessarily achieve success. It needs to be served in an appetising way, so a spokesperson with an energetic and enthusiastic manner is more likely to be asked for an interview on radio or TV and an eye-catching photo is more likely to be picked for the cover of a magazine.

As in cooking, we have to select the finest PR ingredients and combine them in a way that produces a ‘complete dish’.

Overcome fear to tell your story

All businesses need to create a presence so that customers know that they are there. Whether this is through marketing and advertising or from word-of-mouth recommendations, awareness is essential for getting work.

I find that many people are still wary of trying out many of the marketing tools that are available to them. In my role as a business writer for a local newspaper, I often receive phone calls starting with a business owner saying gingerly “I don’t know if you’ll be interested in this . . . ” and then going on to tell a cracker of a story. Of course, the opposite of this is the business owner who sends in press releases regularly with ‘news’ that is only of interest to them. I believe many businesses have good stories to tell and need the confidence to tell them.

While an effective PR consultant can help, businesses without a budget can . . . and do . . . achieve media exposure through their own efforts. With thought and planning, a clear idea of what you want to achieve and a focus on what you will and what you won’t talk about, public relations can be a very cost effective tool.

This applies not only to PR but also to blogging, social media and more. Perhaps you see your competitors getting exposure and feel that you offer a better service than they do, but how will people find that out? Often a voice can tell us that “no one wants to hear about that”, but it’s probably that we’re afraid of standing up and telling our story, a bit like the fear of public speaking.

I’m often encouraging people to talk about their businesses because so many are fascinating and deserve wider exposure. With social media, colleagues and associates can help to share your stories and support you.

There really are many opportunities to tell your stories and people who want to hear them.

Robert Zarywacz is a copywriter and journalist who has written thousands of magazine and newspaper articles. He also researches and writes press releases, case studies and newsletters for clients as well as managing social media and PR campaigns at Robert is the business writer for the North Devon Journal, chairman of COMBEbusiness and courtesy consultant for the National Campaign for Courtesy. Follow @robertz on Twitter.

NDBA Business Action magazine for North Devon issue 2 . . . now available online

We are pleased to publish the second issue of Business Action magazine on behalf of the North Devon Business Alliance (NDBA), the voice of North Devon Business.

Visit the NDBA web site at, follow it on twitter at @northdevon, on facebook at ndevonbusiness and on LinkedIn at North Devon.

If you’d like to advertise in the next issue, please email.

NDBA Business Action magazine available online

We are pleased to publish Business Action magazine on behalf of the North Devon Business Alliance (NDBA), the voice of North Devon Business.

The North Devon Business Alliance has been established by experienced North Devon business owners and executives to represent the interests of all businesses in the area and, through supporting existing businesses and encouraging start-ups, to develop the full potential of the local economy.

It has been formed by businesses in North Devon to champion business in North Devon and wants the area’s economy to thrive so everyone can enjoy the benefits of living and working in one of the most beautiful parts of the world.

The magazine is being formally launched on Friday 28 May 2010 at an NDBA event in Bishop’s Tawton, North Devon where printed copies will be available.

Get the basics right to obtain press coverage

Here are some thoughts on how to improve chances of obtaining press coverage distilled from my experience of magazine and newspaper writing and editing since 1997.

1. Get news to the right person first time. Check out a publication to see what type of material it uses. Different journalists will cover different sections or topics: find out who deals with the type of news you’re sending. A sports correspondent won’t be very thrilled to receive a press release on innovations in the packaging industry. Many publications list the names and even contact details of journalists or you could even phone up and ask.

2. Submit your press release or news in good time. The deadline for inclusion could be days, weeks or months before publication. If you have time-critical news, eg to publicise an event on a specific day, make sure you get all the information in before the deadline, otherwise you’ll miss any opportunity of getting it publicised.

3. Make sure a press release is relevant to the publication. If it’s a local paper, customise the content to suit the readership in that area. Show how the news will affect local people or what’s in it for them. Local interest or relevance to the specific readership is important.

4. Put in basic facts, figures, dates and check them. Journalists aren’t psychic and don’t want to play guessing games.

5. Make sure that your story is of interest to readers, not just yourself. Sometimes it can be easy to forget that not everyone may share your excitement at your news, so be realistic.

6. Be available if a journalist wants original comment or further details. It’ll be a waste of time if your news is left out because they couldn’t reach you.

7. It’s natural for people new to public relations not to follow the above advice, but amazingly some PR professionals don’t either. If you use a PR consultant or agency, be certain that they target media effectively, are aware of deadlines and provide each publication with what it wants. Otherwise, why are you paying them?

That’s my view from the journalist side, which I apply when producing press releases from the PR side.


Free exposure

This morning I was surprised to see that I was the writer of the star letter in MacUser magazine. Not bad, considering I had drafted the letter in a hurry on a Sunday morning, emailed it and forgotten about it.

It’s a reminder that a well-written letter on a topic of interest can catch an editor’s attention and achieve exposure for you, your views or expertise.

This demonstrates the power of words and the value of using them effectively.

How to work with a proofreader

The client, a business, called to ask how much it would cost to proofread their client magazine. We asked for a word count and a possible sample of the text. Seeing a sample gives us an idea of how much work is involved. Poorly written material can take two or three times longer to proofread than good writing, as much of the time is spent figuring out what the author really means and how it should be amended or whether it needs more advanced editing.

Having agreed the price, dates are set for when the draft magazine will be available and when the annotated text needs to be returned to the client.

The text arrives as a PDF on the agreed date and we proofread it, checking spelling, grammar and punctuation, seeing that it makes sense, marking up inconsistencies and generally making sure it is all fine. We mark up the PDF with electronic notes in Adobe Acrobat.

When completed, we email back the PDF so that the client can read the annotations on the PDF using Adobe Acrobat Reader.

The client is very pleased. It’s all gone smoothly and the magazine will go to print free from error.

That’s how proofreading works – more details at

Just in case you’re wondering . . .

. . . why there’s been a gap in posting, it’s because we’ve been editing a 16-page magazine for an organisation, but finally it has gone to print.

As well as editing the content of the articles themselves, we spend a lot of time ensuring information such as web addresses and phone numbers are correct. There’s nothing worse than reading something interesting, then going to have a look at the web site listed, only to find that the wrong address has been given.

It only takes one wrong character to stop you finding that web site, and that’s why accuracy is so important.

Anyway, we hope that normal blogging service will be resumed from now on.

Robert Zarywacz

Editing a newsletter or magazine

Many businesses or organisations decided to publish a newsletter and launch enthusiastically into issue 1 as their first and last effort. Maintaining periodical production is like keeping a train or heavy lorry moving: it takes a tremendous amount of effort at first, but as long as you keep it moving it will roll along almost effortlessly. The danger is in letting it stop; then you have to start it moving all over again.

Over the years, I’ve edited newsletters and magazines for companies, business organisations and voluntary groups, and the above applies to all of them.

How do you attract people’s interest and participation? Obviously, producing a publication that is worth reading is important, but I also try to reach out to every area of the company or organisation to represent their interests. The result is that people start to send you contributions or suggest ideas for articles voluntarily.

I’m editing a magazine at the moment and have received a variety of articles ranging from the interesting to the ones where I’ve politely suggested some improvements to the writer. While not everyone is a natural writer, nobody likes to be told that their contribution is too poor to publish, and it’s surprising how some positive suggestions can result in an improved article the next time.

I really enjoy editing magazines because of the enjoyment they can give both to contributors and readers. It’s worth putting in the effort to maintain the momentum and keep interest alive.

Robert Zarywacz

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