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Build your media relations muscle

Build your media relations muscle

The media is an observer and commentator, reflecting interpretations of news, events and other happenings through the lens of its reporters. From a business owner’s perspective, the media can be a friend, critic or sponsor and, importantly, a key stakeholder that needs to be considered as part of your integrated marketing and public relations program.

The main types of third party media include:

  • print – magazines, newspapers, journals, peak body and specialist industry publications
  • broadcast – radio and television
  • digital – online publications such as enewsletters, emagazines and enewspapers

A published article with a great headline and photograph, an interview on radio or mention on television news, can be highly beneficial for a business. It has the potential to increase your public profile, raise awareness of your message and achievements, and build reputation.

However, given space and time constraints, and the vast array of stories from which a journalist can choose, business owners need to build their “media relations muscle” to increase the potential of their story being published or aired.

Effective media relations means building positive relationships with specialist journalists and responding to the needs of the media by providing highly newsworthy, relevant content.

The media release is the most common tool used to convey your newsworthy stories to the media. Media releases are generally about:

  • hard news (current issues, research, product/service innovations, trending topics)
  • human interest stories (often about people, events, fund-raisers, sponsorships)
  • follow-up articles (updates, or new decision or direction on an important issue or popular topic)
  • photo opportunities (visual image with caption or short story)

Below are some tips for writing a media release on a newsworthy topic about your business.

Think news-worthy!

The media won’t run a story for the gratuitous promotion of a business. Your media release must carry a highly newsworthy story that would be appealing to the specific reader, listener or viewer of the targetted media.

Have a catchy headline

It’s easy to delete an email or trash a fax, so ensure the headline of your media release is catchy enough to grab the attention of the editor, journalist or producer.

Have a key message 

It’s not about you; it’s about them, the audience. Your media release needs to impart a message that is relevant to the target audience.

Put important information upfront 

Print and airtime space is at a premium so answer the what, when, where, who, why and how in the first few paragraphs of your media release.

Use simple language 

Avoid jargon, acronyms, technical terms and clichés, and keep sentences short to aid readability.

Use quotations 

Quote a credible spokesperson such as a subject matter expert or person holding a key leadership position within the organisation.

Provide a contact 

Provide a name, phone number and email address for follow-up enquires from the media.

Ros Weadman is an award-winning public relations and marketing specialist who works with businesses that want to magnify their brand presence in the marketplace. She is the author of BRANDcode®, a marketing guide for small businesses, available at http://www.brandcode.marketing.

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