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Media Coverage: Making Journalists’ Job Easier

Yesterday we discussed the importance of selecting a press release topic that will pique the interest of the media. That’s just one part of the equation. An element often overlooked by companies seeking media coverage is the press kit.

Essentially, a press kit makes journalists’ jobs easier. Their time is at a premium, so you’ll be more likely to receive media coverage if you can give them background information that will help them in their reporting and writing.

A press kit can contain a variety of materials. What you include in yours largely depends on your industry and the kind of coverage you’re hoping to garner. For example, a press kit might include:

  • Your most recent press releases
  • Clippings of other favorable media coverage
  • A backgrounder or FAQ that explains the basics of your industry and why it’s relevant
  • Historical information about your company or industry
  • Short biographies of the company principals
  • High resolution, professional photos that can be reproduced
  • Suggestions for interesting story angles that haven’t been covered in the media

If you provide journalists with this kind of information, they can save valuable research time. You should have your press kit online, and offer it in a downloadable format. You may prefer that the public not have access to your press kit; if so, you can password protect that area of your site.

The bottom line? Don’t make journalists work too hard. Your press release might be wonderful and compelling, but if you give them the background information they need, you’ll be several steps ahead in the media game.

Check back tomorrow for tips on writing an effective press release.


Press Releases: Making News with the Right Topic

Yesterday, we talked about media stories and spin control. But what about when you want to make the news? Effective press releases are the most efficient way to break into the news cycle and get what is effectively free advertising for your company. The key word here is “effective.” All too often, businesses send out press releases that never gain traction.

What separates the best from the rest? In one word: perspective. Companies that get media coverage from press releases understand what the media is hungry for, and feeds the beast. When you understand the perspective of the media and give them what they need, you’ll come out on top every time.

So, before you write your next press release, ask yourself these two questions:

1. Is the topic of my press release newsworthy? You may be excited that you’ve expanded the color selection of your widgets to include blue and yellow, but will the media even care? Unless you’re Apple in the late 1990s and are announcing that your new iMacs will come in a variety of candy colors, your press release will elicit annoyance, rather than interest. Think about your recipient’s audience and make sure your press release covers a topic of interest to them.

2. Can you piggyback on an existing hot news story? For example, we all know that the price of gas has shot through the roof, and we’ve all seen too much B-roll on TV showing price signs at gas stations and people pumping gas into their vehicles. Journalists are scrambling to find new angles on a story that feels old. If they receive a press release that makes a new connection to gas prices, they’ll jump on it. The bottom line: Thinking of an angle that relates to a hot news topic will pique the media’s interest.

Having a compelling topic is only one part of the equation. Tomorrow, we’ll discuss another factor that can increase your chances of getting media coverage.


Media Relations: Controlling the Message

When it comes to promoting your business, there’s one type of marketing that money can’t buy: media coverage. When your company makes the news, you’re not only spreading the word about your products and services, but you’re gaining the implicit legitimacy that such news coverage brings.

There’s an old adage that goes something along the lines of, “I don’t care what the media says about me, as long as they spell my name right.” While this has an element of truth to it, the reality is that not all coverage is good coverage. To the greatest extent possible, you should control media reports about your company.

Most of the time, this means sending out press releases and being prepared to answer media inquiries. Other times, events dictate that you need to be a master in spin control. If you’re good at spin, you can transform a potentially embarrassing situation into a wealth of free publicity.

The manager of a Washington, D.C., gym recently did just that. Presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama has a membership in a gym network, and dropped into a new facility for a morning workout. Although his cadre of Secret Service agents was in tow, the person staffing the desk apparently asked him for his gym card. When he didn’t have it, she asked for his last name (presumably so she could verify his membership). After Obama gave his last name, she asked for his first name; only then did she (apparently) realize who he was and let him into the gym.

The gym manager masterfully parlayed a potentially embarrassing incident into favorable national media coverage, and his gym got the kind of publicity that most likely turned other gyms green with envy. Was a media contingent present, and was the incident planned? Who knows. Did the Obama campaign share the story with the media to reinforce the idea that their candidate is a “regular guy”? Maybe.

The bottom line? If you unexpectedly find yourself in the news, be on your toes; if you spin the story properly, you’ll get the kind of free advertising you can only dream of.

Check back tomorrow, when we’ll discuss using press releases to your advantage.


How To Increase Online Trackbacks You Receive

The easiest way to increase trackbacks is to frequently post your blogs. If you post frequently (2-3 times a week), people will have quite a few newer posts that they can trackback. However, it is important to make sure that your posts are of a good quality and original content. Quality blog posts are those that people can relate to and are easy to read.

If you post a long boring rant, there are those people who probably won’t want to trackback that sort of stuff. But if you post a decent sized rant that is entertaining (and that people are likely to agree with), you just might get trackbacked.

The number of trackbacks you get totally depends on the number of visitors your blog receives and how frequently you are able to make quality posts. If you’ve got a good amount of visitors and write good blog posts, you’ll get trackbacks.

Trackbacks are a wonderful thing for every blog. You are able to know when your blog posting has been posted about at another blog, plus you potentially of increased web traffic. It’s a win-win situation for you and you!


Increasing Your Site’s Conversion Rates – Part 2

Yesterday we shared three tips for converting your website traffic to sales. Here are three more suggestions that can add to your bottom line:

1. Capture visitor information. It’s much easier to sell to people who are already familiar with your product or service. To that end, make sure to include a sign-up option on every page of your website. This way, you’ll begin to compile your own list of opt-in subscribers. Using email marketing, you can then send out newsletters, special offers, and other vital information that will convert prospects into sales.

2. Make your case. Unless you’re selling one-of-a-kind products, consumers have a choice. It’s up to you to convince them to choose you. Entice your visitors with strategies that will compel them to buy immediately, such as special sales, lower prices, free shipping, and so forth.

3. Make ordering easy. Many potential buyers add items to their shopping cart and then bail out during the checkout process. If this happens with your site, you should consider streamlining the ordering process. Collect the minimum amount of information needed and avoid requiring buyers to keep clicking from one page to the next in order to complete the checkout process.