Getting your company featured in the right publications is what companies pay top PR agencies a lot of money to do. Why? Because it’s tough to get published.
Over the years I’ve had plenty of companies come to me and ask for a press release to be written – with the belief that all they have to do is to submit it – and it will magically appear in a prominent position in their chosen publications, more information here. This is a myth – it’s much more likely to get ‘spiked’ (that’s old-fashioned press-speak for deleted/thrown away).
There are two ways to get your material published:
- Write good press releases – and submit them to the right publications – and keep doing that regularly, whether or not they get published.
- Find industry journals that need good articles and write something that adds value for them.
They both have their challenges – and I think that 2 is often much easier than 1, but let’s look at the 5 Golden Rules for each of them.
- Make sure you have a real story that is of interest to your chosen publication’s readers. A new member of staff, premises or product doesn’t constitute an interesting story unless you’re hiring royalty, moved to the top of The Shard from a back street lock up or your new product is a serious innovation (like driverless cars).
- Write a good headline – that tells the editor what the press release is about. This isn’t time to get creative – this isn’t email marketing with an ‘open me’ intriguing subject line. The point is that the editor gets the message quickly and clearly or they just won’t bother reading any further.
- Get all the key facts into the first paragraph – for the same reason as above. Don’t make an editor work any harder than necessary. With most publications they will rewrite it in any case.
- This is not an epic novel – keep it short. No more than two pages – but one is even better. You’re looking at a maximum of 400 words. List any images you’re attaching at the end.
- Make sure your phone and email information is at the foot of EVERY page. If the editor likes your story they may want to talk to you about expanding it with more information.
- Don’t write on spec – contact the publication and find out if they accept unsolicited articles or, better still, find out what they would like you to write about. This is best done by phone, it helps to build relationships.
- Lead with value. What do you know about that you could write an article that will help your chosen media’s audience? The more value you give the better the editor will like it.
- Use examples, statistics and quotes if appropriate – it all adds colour (and often creates an opportunity for an interesting graphic. NEVER quote anyone without permission and NEVER invent statistics; ideally quote the source of your stats.
- Although an article tends to be longer than most press releases, don’t ramble. Stick to the point and using sub-headings and bullets helps the reader to process the information.
- If you’re given a deadline – stick to it. If you don’t you’re just going to upset the editor and you may not get another chance. If you’re writing for a monthly the deadline can be as much as 6-8 weeks ahead of publication date. You might want to keep this in mind when you’re writing so you don’t include any references that may be out-of-date by the time it’s published.
Finally – and this applies to both types of item – do not try and sell your stuff in your press release or article. It won’t get published – and will alienate the editor. They know you’re using them for PR, but they don’t expect you to treat them as a source of free advertising. The item has to have value.
This doesn’t mean you can’t mention your products or services, but no direct sales pitch. Most magazine editors are happy to publish your name and contact info or website at the end of any article you’ve submitted. You just need to trust that your article is so captivating that people will want to find out more!