Don’t let your hangover be the only awareness of your award win

An award win gives you a big opportunity to obtain press coverage.
If you’re a finalist, Robert Zarywacz suggests preparing in advance so you don’t waste your big moment.

It’s the morning after the regional awards. What a hangover! But what a win! And, boy, did we celebrate!” 

(Enough to warrant three exclamation marks.) 

“Now it’s time to tell everyone about how great we are. I’ll just get another cup of coffee and sit down to write the press release.”

pressme: Don’t let your hangover be the only awareness of your award win

Make best PR use of your award win

It can be a big achievement to win an award and it’s definitely useful for obtaining media coverage, but an award win isn’t always enough on its own.

As our bleary-eyed winner sits down to compose their press release at 9.30am on the morning after, a journalist on their target publication has already been writing an article on these awards since 9.00am.

What’s more, another four businesses won awards last night, one of them winning two awards, so they are going to be the main focus of the newspaper article. The journalist has received a press release from one of the other winners and has already spoken to the winner of the two awards.

Add to this press releases sent to the newspaper from two other businesses which have each won national awards that outrank the regional awards, and our friend’s press release is an also-ran even before it’s written.

Does this really happen? Yes, this is based on my experience as a journalist when I observed award winners working to get my attention when it was too late.

Now, there are other ways of generating publicity from winning an award – in newsletters to customers, on social media and on web sites – but free coverage in the press and media is usually worth a lot. Think how much you would pay to advertise.

What can you do to improve your chances of media coverage?

Plan – write your winner’s press release before the awards event. You won’t be able to put in all the details, such as judges’ comments, although ask the awards organisers at the event when you have been named a winner. Get as much material as you can in advance.

Competitors – you will not be the only award winner. What makes you different? Will you win two awards? Will it be the third year you’ve won this award? Have you won other awards this year? What is it that will get you noticed by journalists so that your story becomes the focus of their awards articles?

Photos – usually an official photographer takes photos at awards ceremonies. Find out how the press can obtain photos of your award win. Sometimes photos can be a pain to obtain, so any help you can give journalists will make their job easier.

Move fast – contact the media as soon as you can. If the awards were announced during an evening event, do it first thing the following morning. Remember our journalist who was writing the article at 9.00am. You may be hungover, but the journalist will probably have a clear head and be writing to a deadline.

Respond – if a journalist calls you or emails, respond immediately. They’ll have other articles to write if they can’t get a response from you.

With a small amount of preparation you can do a lot to help your chances of getting media coverage of your awards wins. And that’s another reason to celebrate.

Can your press release grab the attention you deserve?

Got a newsworthy story but fear you can’t compete with professionally produced press releases?
Take heart. Not all PR agency produced press releases are effective.

Does your business have some remarkable news?

Are you bursting to tell the world, but every time you go to write a press release or pick up the phone to talk to the media you stop because you’re not a PR professional.

Please, don’t stop.

Over the years, I have written for newspapers and business magazines and received more press releases than I care to remember, both from businesses and from PR agencies and consultants. As you can imagine, these have included effective press releases and not-so-effective press releases.

Not all the effective ones were produced by PR agencies and consultants. Not even an awards logo on the bottom of an agency-written press release can guarantee its effectiveness.

I don’t suggest all or most PR agencies and consultants do not provide value, especially as pressme exists to produce press releases for paying clients, but there’s nothing to say that you can’t produce a press release that will match the best.

I know this because in my long experience as a journalist and editor I have received powerful press releases written by businesses themselves.

Now, it could be that you don’t have the time or really don’t feel able to write a press release. That’s perfectly fine. In the same way we employ an accountant because we want a professional to calculate our taxes.

But if fear of your press release competing with those written by professionals is all that holds you back, cast those worries aside.

What’s important is to get your story out there for the benefit of your business. This could be by using a PR professional or by doing it yourself.

Your story needs to be heard.

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.

 

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