PR Smarts Article: Attracting Media Coverage

Reporters are always looking for compelling stories. You can help them and, at the same time, win press coverage for your products, services, organization or cause. Every organization, including yours, has newsworthy information. Sometimes you just have to dig a bit to get to it. Here are seven suggestions that will help you find the stories within your organization that you can pitch to get positive press attention:

1) Identify trends in your industry - use your organization/product/issue as an example of a trend -- and pitch them as story ideas to the magazines, newsletters and Web sites your customers and prospects read.

2) A milestone: does your organization have an an accomplishment or anniversary to brag about that is of public interest - a new product, service, partnership, event, contract win or hire? Find a news hook for it. Here, for example, are some commemorations that might be good news hooks for your products or services: National School Success Month, National Preparedness Month, Self Improvement Month, Hispanic Heritage Month and...the U.S. Senate passed a 2007 resolution declaring September "National Bourbon Heritage Month." No idea how they plan to celebrate.

3) Take note of a "First in a Series" article. If you and your company would fit into the series as good sources, contact the reporter with reasons you might be included in the next article in the series.

4) Commission a study or survey, the results of which need to appeal to news outlets you most want to reach. Co-sponsor the survey with a well-known industry organization to boost visibility. Online companies let you process surveys via the Web at very small cost.

5) Spotlight newsworthy people in your organization. For example, if a staffer is a gifted writer, musician or athlete, pitch the story to the appropriate editors of the newspaper. That way you'll also have a chance of getting your organization mentioned in the Arts, Sports and Local sections as well as Business.

6) Write a column yourself. Somewhere in your organization is a white paper or speech that you can cut to 800 words and submit as an Op-Ed or "expert" column to a trade publication or local business journal. Buy reprints and add them to your sales and marketing materials.

7) Send news releases. They do work if concise, newsworthy, and timely. Keep out the fluff and spin. Put the real news in the headline and first paragraph.. Before you send a release, put yourself in a reporter's place. "Could I write a story using this information?" A regular "drumbeat" of releases (one or two a month) keeps your visibility high and helps keep you current when reporters do Internet searches to look for information. About 400-500 words is the optimum length.

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