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Forget the resolutions: 5 ways to just do it in 2015 (PR, that is!)

January is over, the groundhog didn’t see his shadow (thank goodness!) and 2015 is well underway. The time for resolutions is over. And even if you made one, for some of us, resolutions simply don’t work.

That’s OK. How about we just focus on getting it done this year? If you’ve been thinking about doing some PR for your business, there are some simple ways to get the ball rolling. Here are five ways you can make it happen when it comes to PR:

  1. If you’ve been putting off that press release, now is the time to write it. You can get a lot of mileage from press releases because there are so many ways you can leverage them. Here are a few examples in my piece on Ragan’s PR Daily, 5 Ways to Make Use of a Press Release.
  2. Neglected to reach out to media? Not sure how to start? Tackle it head on by first deciding what type of media coverage would be most beneficial. Is it local coverage? Coverage in trade publications? Print or broadcast coverage? Then, put together a list. It doesn’t have to include hundreds of media outlets. Focus on five or 10 to start. Even selecting one target to pursue can be a beginning, then you can build from there.
  3. Try a contributed article. This is a great vehicle to build thought leadership. Get your expertise out there by sharing it with an audience who will appreciate it. And, these can also be repurposed in a number of ways (blog posts, social media, etc.). If you enjoy writing, you can do this on your own. If not—and if you don’t have a marketing or communications team–find someone in your company who likes to write. Or, hire someone to interview you and do the writing.
  4. Want to build your credibility as an expert in your field AND bring visibility to your business? Try speaking! If you’re just starting out, look for local opportunities to present at Chambers of Commerce, rotary groups and libraries. If you have the budget to travel to industry events like conferences, many of those accept speaking proposals. If you’re not comfortable flying solo, you can propose participating in a panel discussion with some of your industry peers.
  5. If you haven’t tried to garner any awards, now is the time. Awards are handed out by local publications and organizations, and then there are industry awards and even national awards programs. As always, where you start depends on who you’re trying to get in front of. Once you determine that, you can research appropriate awards programs, deadlines and fees and develop some baseline materials to use to submit to these programs.

These are a few ideas to get you started. There’s no time like NOW to get started on PR for your business! What are you waiting for?

 

Press release timing: Does it _really_ matter which day of the week you issue news?

There’s always been debate among PR professionals about which day of the week is best to issue press releases. An interesting study came out last week regarding this. PR.co looked at 50,000 releases and published this infographic that shows which days press releases get the most views.

I always advise Tues. or Weds. for press releases, as Mondays are the day when everyone’s inbox is flooded with messages and Fridays have long been associated with issuing bad news (so that no one notices it…). Turns out this study seems to support mid-week releases….but it also talks about issuing them on weekends, because so few releases are issued on Saturday and Sunday. The rationale here is that there’s much less competition for reporters’ attention.

What does all this mean? I’d stick with mid-week timing (and I always issue releases in the morning, whenever possible—usually early morning, say 8 a.m.’ish). Weekend days seem like a stretch, although I have seen an increase in the number of reporters who seem to be catching up on their email over the weekend and respond to pitches that were sent during the week.

Most importantly, we can’t lose sight of the key factors that make a release successful. I’d say the bottom line is that the content and news value are still what makes the difference as to whether or not a release is viewed. If you have a poorly written release, it really doesn’t matter which day of the week you issue it. Or, if you issue a release that isn’t newsworthy, you can’t expect the day or time you issue it to make it any more worth the reporter’s time. (Read more about the power of press releases here.)

So, what should you focus on to make sure your press release is read? If you do your best to make sure each release is newsworthy and well written, this is by far the biggest factor in ensuring an audience for your news. Then, issue it on Tues. morning at 8 a.m.! <grin>

 

For You! Free Resources to Help You Do Your Own PR

With the holidays upon us, I thought about what I could give readers as a gift this season. What better than a list of my favorite resources, many of them free, that I often use and tout in my PR talks. If you’re interested in doing your own PR and are on a budget, check these out before spending any money on pricier solutions.

Here’s hoping they help you achieve great results with your PR efforts in the coming year! Happy holidays to all!

1) Free press release distribution services: If you need to distribute a press release, you may want to consider using what we in the biz call a wire service. There are MANY free wire services out there, but the two I use—and find get good results—are PRlog and PR.com. I use both in tandem. Here’s why: PRLog allows the use of links and even video within the release at no additional cost. PR.com gets the release on the search engines.

One additional note: Reporters who’ve seen a client’s release on PRlog have contacted me directly, so they DO work! If you have no budget for pricier services, this is the way to go.

And, if you do have budget to spend, PRWeb usually offers a discount on your first release. Look online for a $50 off code. PR Newswire is also good, but another notch up the ladder as far as pricing.

2) If you’re looking for editorial opportunities, there are a number of free resources to help you:

The most popular is probably HARO (Help a Reporter Out). This is completely free—and it works!! I’ve gotten my clients (and myself) in stories through HARO.

Founded by branding/PR expert Peter Shankman, here’s a description: Everyone’s an expert at something. Sharing your expertise may land you that big media opportunity you’ve been looking for.

Here’s how it works: Reporters who are looking for sources for their stories post opportunities that are then sent out a few times each day via email to HARO subscribers. You can follow the instructions to submit yourself as a source. There’s a deadline, so pay attention to that when responding. It’s best to read these as soon as they hit your mailbox and reply as quickly as possible, as they do receive many, many responses in some cases.

Two others I don’t use as often, but they are free, are PitchRate and SourceBottle.

3) Related to #2, if you’re in need of editorial calendar opportunities, you can try using Cision’s free ed cal site, http://us.cision.com/edcals/edcals.asp.

You may also visit each publication’s site. Many list their editorial calendar online (sometimes it can be found under “Advertising” or “Media Kit”), so it’s possible to build your own calendar of opportunities that may be a fit for free. Paid services (e.g. Myedcals) are also available: http://www.mymediainfo.com/myedcals.html

4) For awards and speaking opportunities, try ITDatabase’s TechCalendar, a great free resource geared toward the IT industry. You can sign up here: http://itdatabase.com. http://itdatabase.us1.list-manage1.com/subscribe?u=e179f3d5fb981a768db456f5c&id=6a0dfa05f0

5) For research, use Google News or Bing News. Type in your company name or whatever search term you like and news stories will come up. I use these to track announcements made by my clients, as well as to do competitive research, all completely free!

For those on a budget—and so many smaller businesses are—these resources can definitely help get the job done. For more tricks, tips and helpful advice, keep following!

 

Where’s Your Press Release?

I’m mystified by something. Twice today—just in the few hours I’ve been at work this morning—I’ve run into situations with companies who seem to lack press releases. Both cases occurred when I needed to pull up some basic info quickly and thought, “Oh, no problem, I’ll just pull the press release from their site.” Wrong!! And this isn’t the first time it’s happened! In my mind, this underscores a bigger issue. This is too commonplace an occurrence these days. Which leads me to ask: Where are the press releases?

For the life of me, I will never understand why press releases are so underutilized. They provide the who/what/when/where/how at a glance and give a quick overview of an event, announcement, etc. In today’s “We need the details quickly” world, press releases are the perfect vehicle to get the word out about whatever you want to share.

Designed to whet the appetite of a reporter, they contain only the “need to know” info so anyone intrigued enough can then visit the site to learn more. They’re simple to write and easy to post to your site (and you can go beyond that—see my article “5 Ways to Make Use of a Press Release”  on how to use a press release once you have one). So, why aren’t more entities leveraging this valuable communication tool?

The next time you want to get the details out about a new product or service, an event, an award or countless other pieces of news, remember our friend the press release, a multi-purpose tool designed to help you get the job done.