3 S.R. Johannes: Marketing Monday - Place Perfect Press

Monday, December 15, 2008

Marketing Monday - Place Perfect Press

Today, I will talk about how to write a good press release.

This can be used when you are dealing with media contacts in trying to get placement in newspapers or magazines.

Before, you can use this information, you will need to have/create a story for yourself that you can wrap your press release around. For example: if you are donating your speakers fee and speaking at an under-privilege school about writing. If you are headlining a fundraiser event and giving % of proceeds form your book. You can highlight something in the book that is useful to readers (especially if it is nonfiction).

The goal of a press release is to inform the press of your book and tell the media why you would be a good story to pick up. It is a story that presents your product in a newsworthy way.

  • A press release can be 1-2 pages. One Page is Ideal.

  • This is the first thing a media contact will want to see.

  • Remember, a reporter or media outlet is only interested in stories for its reader. It is not really interested in selling your book.

  • Decide "what is your story?" Are you doing an event, volunteering, speaking engagement. etc. Come up with a benefit for the reader.

  • Place FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE in upper left corner

  • Make it newsworthy. Tie into to an event. Tie into hot stories, other products, list awards/prizes.

  • Change press release periodically (maybe quarterly)

Key elements:

  1. Catchy Headline - You must have a headline that grabs the media's attention so they pick up your story.

  2. Lead - first paragraph should cover who, what, when, where and how

  3. Book Info. - Provide book information such as ISBN, Publisher, Publication Date, Price, # of Pages.

  4. Bio - One paragraph at the end of the press release about you.

  5. Contact information - include phone, address, email

  6. More information - put media section on web site with easily-accessed information

Steps to get press:

  1. Call to pitch story. Best time is 9am-noon.

  2. Don't pitch story right away. Ask if it is a good time or schedule a time to talk about a story idea.

  3. Practice your pitch until you have memorized it and it is natural.

  4. Follow up interest with press kit.

  5. Call again to follow up after press kit is received.



tone almhjell said...

Hi Shelli,

just thought I'd add a little something: try to make contact with a specific reporter, ideally one who often writes stories of the same kind. That way, you can let the reporter pitch the idea in the newsroom instead of leaving it up to an editor, who will have to prioritize. If a reporter cares, and even better, if a reporter can present it as her own discovery to her boss, you'll get a story.

Be tactful, though, you don't want to antagonize by being too pushy.

Carrie Harris said...

This is great info. When I worked in market research, I read so many poorly written press releases. Mostly, the problems that I saw were related to the writing. You want to sound interesting! Who would want to write a story about someone who's boring? And the more specific you can be, the better. It's just like a query letter in some ways; saying that you're intriguing isn't going to get it done. SHOW that you are. Don't tell.

Ahem. Sorry. I'll get off the soapbox now.

Anonymous said...

Ha! I never realized that the best time to call and pitch a story is in the a.m. Sound obvious but it never occured to me to watch for that. Thanks for the tip!