- Locate the media. It's one thing to write a press release. It's another to get it to the right reporters, writers or editors. Bacon's Directories (800-753-6675), Working Press of the Nation, (800-521-8110), and Editor & Publisher Yearbook (212-675-4380)- each provide listings of editorial staff at U.S. media outlets -- both print and broadcast. These plus other resource guides are available at main branches of the public library.
- Build a media contact list. Hit the local library's reference desk. Ask for directories on media outlets, reporters and editors. Spend an afternoon flipping through them and create a database of appropriate contacts for your market. Spend another afternoon in the main library's periodical section looking at all its magazines, again writing down pertinent information from appropriate publications, including editors' names, addresses, phone, fax and email.
- Browse and learn. Local reporters and editors like local stories. Read all of your local and regional periodicals so you know who the beat writers are, and generally what the "tone" of the publication is. You want to write your release to fit the style of the media.
- Learn to write. The better you can write a simple press release, and mail, fax or email, the more adept and comfortable you'll be at sending out such correspondence. Become accustomed to sending news to the media at least once a month. Include such information as how current news or your product or service affects the publication's readers. Tell editors and reporters what makes you an expert resource for your field of work, and why the media should call on you -- now and in the future. Be sure to include a few direct quotes, so if an editor wants to use your information, it won't necessarily require a telephone call to get you to say something they can quote directly.
- Give 'em the pix. A story that includes an attractive product shot or staged picture is more likely to get published than a story without one. It could even be a chart, or bulleted information relevant to your article or story (charts, graphs and bullet points will fax, where pictures won't). Be prepared to email or FedEx pictures to editors or reporters if they ask. In fact, don't make them ask. Offer first.
- Don't be a pest. Journalists dislike (at least) two things: Calls on deadline from pesky P.R. people, and pesky P.R. people who have no idea what the publication is all about. First question to ask when calling a reporter or editor: "Are you on deadline?" If they are, offer to call back. If not, be prepared to pitch your idea, specifically noting how your story will serve their readers.
- Bark up the right tree. Know the go-to-guy. Before pitching your spiel, give a brief one-paragraph synopsis, and then ask if the reporter or editor on the other end of the line is the right person to be talking to about that topic. If they say no, ask who is. While on that call, verify the fax and email address, and inquire by which means they'd prefer to receive press releases. Some people are quite protective of their email addresses, so don't use them without asking.
- Be in pictures. Local business television producers are always looking for someone to have on the show. Don't ever underestimate the value of your product or your message. Even if the show is on public access television on the local cable network, get on there. Your initial experiences will break down any stage fright you might have. With each subsequent appearance, you'll grow more confident. And with each visit, you'll reinforce your message with the audience.
- Generate additional publicity. Write and fax news releases to area business and community publications -- and potential clients (you might want to ask first if they mind receiving such information). Repetition enhances readers' memories. While you're at it, create a Fact Sheet on you and your business, and a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) list that could help people understand what you do and why it's important.
- Speak up. Contact business professors at area colleges and universities and offer to lecture on business topics related to your area(s) of expertise (never limit what your subject area). Then volunteer to speak to area civic and community groups. Read the Monday business section to see what organizations hold regular meetings, and offer to speak at those events in the future. After all, who is an expert? Someone with a business card, a newsletter - and who proclaims themselves to be one.
Today's Top7Business Article Was Submitted By Jeff Zbar (www.goinsoho.com), The Chief Home Officer , is a home-based journalist and business coach specializing in work-at-home, alternative officing, and small business issues. He is the author of Home Office Know-How (Upstart Publishing, 1998), and his CD-ROM, Your Profitable Home Business Made E-Z (Made E-Z Products, Inc.), will debut this fall. He also publishes the free ezine, Home Office Success Stories (www.goinsoho.com/stories.htm [http://www.goinsoho.com/stories.htm]).