Four Key Steps You Need to Know
I. How to build a media contact file.
Once you have the story idea, now it’s time to get the information out to the appropriate editorial contacts. Developing your targeted database of contacts is key to getting articles published. Always try and mail at least 3 or 4 items or storylines per year. Editors maintain a file of contacts and will contact you for feedback and comments for other related stories. Be the pro that they contact, to confirm information or to get some of their questions answered.
Your media contact database should include the following:
• List of editors such as: Business Editor, Local News Editor, Feature Editor, or Lifestyle Editor. In smaller newspapers or publications, the above list may be all the same person.
• Media File Information: Media Type: Newspaper (daily or weekly), Magazine or trade. Media Name: Contact: Title: Address: City, State Zip: Phone: Fax: E-mail: Web site: And how they like to receive their releases.
II. Determine what each publication wants and how they want to receive material.
Finding out what your media contact wants, and how they want to receive material is critical. Certain publications don’t accept outside releases, however, they are always on the lookout for a key story line.
The best way to find out is through a public relations agency that maintains a subscription database listing all media contacts nationally. This database is updated weekly and lists all the necessary data. The alternative is much harder, but you can contact each media by phone and ask their requirements.
Here is a sample on how the Housing/Residential Development Editorial Assistant at Better Homes & Gardens Beautiful Homes wants to be contacted:
Pitching Tips: Preferred Order: E-Mail. She can also be contacted by phone,
fax, mail, or e-mail.
It is critical to also understand the objective of the publication. This helps in understanding what they are looking for and what you should send them. Here is a sample of the profile of Better Homes & Gardens Beautiful Homes.
Organization Profile: Offers readers real solutions for taking an active role in the home building process. Editorial content covers homes that are new, existing, spec or production-built. Showcases new homes, design ideas, room planning, construction techniques, and building products.
III. Building a photo file & working with photographers.
One of the best investments you can make is to build a photo file. When you create or see something out of the ordinary or special, make sure to capture a few shots of it. Consider the photos you take as test shots.
Test shots are ideal to show a publication. If they like what they see, they will generally want to use their own photographer. If that is not the case, then you’ll want to hire your own professional photographer. This is not an area that you should try and save money in. With professional photos, you will have a better chance on getting your story published. And once you have great photos, you’ll be able to use them for your web site, literature, display booth, advertising, presentation book and other marketing tools.
IV. Photo copyright and releases.
Before hiring a photographer, always discuss up front, who will own the copyright of the photos. Many photographers want to maintain the ownership of the photos, even though you are paying them. Always make sure that you end up with the full copyright. By owning the copyright, you will have more flexibility on what you do with the photos and won’t have to pay for use every time you want them. Don’t let the photographer tell you otherwise. Many professional photographers will work with you and give you full – or at least shared – copyright use.
If your photos include people (customers, models, even family,) you’ll want to get a photo release. A typical release will be worded something like this:
I hereby grant XYZ Company and parties designated by XYZ Company, unrestricted permission to use and publish any and all photographs of myself, and/or my personal property, for the purpose of editorial, trade, advertising, display, exhibition use or any other printed material or electronic medium without compensation. All negatives and positives, together with prints and all reproductions, shall constitute the property, including all copyright interest, of XYZ Company, solely and completely. The undersigned, hereby waves any rights that he/she may have to inspect or approve finished photos, or advertising copy, or printed matter that may be used in conjunction with other photography. I have read this release and fully understand its contents.
In using such photography, (I do) or (I do not) (circle one) want my name, and included.
Names, Address, City, State, Zip and Date, with a signature line.
Best of success in your new public relations campaign! Remember a third party story is a great selling tool, and PR stories are ten times more valuable than advertising.
We hope you have found this series on Public Relations: The Fast Track to Attracting Buyers helpful and practical for your Small Business. Don’t forget to DOWNLOAD our FREE Marketing Start Up Kit and visit our WEB site for more great information
About the author:
Don Grandy is a sales and marketing coach, consultant to small business and lifelong learner. He is co-host of BuilderRadio’s weekly Internet radio program and is the owner of QThree Marketing.