Pitching a Story to the Media

How do you create media interest in your business? You offer a great product or service, and you have a website that contains relevant content and special offers – maybe you also have a Facebook page and you are active on Twitter. That is all great but when it comes to the media, you must present your story idea because they likely won’t come knocking on your door.

There are hundreds of press releases, media alerts and phone inquiries each day that flow into a news room or editor’s office. How do you intend to stand out and get noticed?

Helpful Tips:

A reporter or editor does not want to have to read between the lines to figure out what your story is. Do not fill your inquiry or press release with industry jargon. Though your intention may be to impress with your knowledge, that will not get you noticed.

Is your story idea unique and compelling? You must find a way to make your idea stand out in the first paragraph. Does it create curiosity? If not, you may want to re-arrange your ideas to make it more interesting.

Before you hit the first key in typing your press release or inquiry to the editor, be sure you research the following:

1. Who is the person you are sending it to? Is it the right person to reach out to?

2. How do they prefer to be contacted?

3. What is their writing style?

4. What have they written in the past? Is your idea relevant?

5. Does the writer have an editorial calendar and blog you can review?

6. What should the length and format of your piece be?

Doing your research prior to submitting something to a media person will help you to develop and maintain positive relationships with them. Do not send your information to  media contacts without an introduction and be sure to follow the tips above.

If you are struggling with how to make your story ideas stand out, check out the book Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath at www.heathbrothers.com  It is an excellent way to sharpen your writing skills and will help you to create ideas that “stick.” 

Good luck!

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Needed – Skilled Writer Who Will Work for Peanuts

So you need to hire a copywriter or an editor? The Internet offers endless options from the minimally skilled to seasoned, highly skilled writers and editors. With so many options, how do you select the right professional for your project?

There is the old adage that “You get what you pay for,” but is it true? Should you pay $1,000 for a project if someone else is willing to complete it for $500?

It depends on what your expectations are in hiring a copywriter/editor.

Do you need someone to be available to discuss the focus and scope of your project?

Does your project require an understanding of marketing concepts?

Does the writer need to understand the subject matter and intended audience to successfully contribute to your project?

Or, do you simply need someone to look for grammatical errors?

The years of professional experience and areas of expertise of the writer/editor you hire will often make the difference between just getting a job done, and getting it done well.

Experts in any field know what their services are worth, and will not accept payment well below what they deserve. Writers and editors with years of experience are experts, and as in other specialty areas – time is money, and it is better spent working on projects that pay what they are worth.

So is it true? Do you get what you pay for?

Use your best judgement but in my experience, the effort put forth by a hired professional who is paid below average rates, delivers below average work.

Hire someone who will care as much as you do about your project’s success; hire someone who will go over and above what is expected. It is about having a mutually beneficial relationship that will lead to successful collaboration on your important writing projects.

Many on-line businesses offer writing/editing services in which you submit your project details and payment, then the document is returned to you – no collaboration, no conference calls, no further edits included.

Do you want a partnership in which the same writer/editor is your contact for every project? Many on-line businesses will farm out your work to writers/editors who are on a strict deadline in which they have to rush jobs and they never have contact with you, the customer.

So when you search the Web and find a copywriter/editor you want to work with, ask questions and know exactly what you are getting for your money. Make sure your list of needs match what they are offering, review their background, and then compare price.

I hope this helps you in your search for a copywriter/editor. Good luck and I wish you much success in your future writing projects!

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Get your Head Out of the Sand – Social Media is Not a Fad

Social Media, New Media, Facebook, Blogs, Tweets…….what’s it all about anyways?

You hear about it all the time. Everyone has a Facebook page, right? Don’t you? Most company heads do know something about the topic and know they should be doing it. But why exactly?

For an area that seems so confusing and complicated to many, the reasoning behind it is as basic as bread and butter – Connecting with your customers on a personal level. Why? What happened to the days of just putting together a brochure with all your company’s products and services? What’s wrong with just having a Web site with all of your product and service offerings listed?

Both of those selling tools are still necessary and viable today, but it isn’t enough. Customers want the “personal touch.” The days of small towns with small merchants who know all its customers by name are all but over; however, businesses are reaching out to its customers through new media.

They want to ask questions; they want to interact with you. They want to feel as though they really matter to the businesses they deal with and trust.

Trust - that is the key. Building trust and a personal connection. If you will not reach out to your customers and get personal, another business will. 

You must get to know your customers and you have to care about them. If you are not genuine and sincere with your content, they will move on. Before you even start a blog, sign up on Twitter, or start a fan page on Facebook, know who your customer is and get real. You need to know how to talk to them, provide great content, and you must listen to what they have to say. 

Good luck, be brave, and get started today!

Visit me at www.macwrites.com

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If You Like Your Friends, Don’t Feed Them Spam!

Social networking sites provide a fantastic opportunity for you to promote your products and services.  Networking sites such as Facebook offer an excellent platform to build a small business by providing you with all the tools you need to be a success; however, please don’t subject your online friends to daily sale pitches that read like SPAM!

Part of the wonderful dynamics of on-line marketing is two-way communication between you and your potential customers. If your online promotion includes daily sales pitch type posts on the Facebook news feed, you are missing out on the many features and benefits of the site. First, you may want to build a fan page on Facebook that will allow you to better describe what your company has to offer, which will make your posts much more effective.

For some GREAT pointers on how to interact with your potential customers on Facebook and how to build a fan base, follow this link http://kommein.com/10-ways-to-rock-your-facebook-campaign/

I hope you find this information as helpful and informative as I did! Good Luck!

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The News Media Are Waiting to Hear From You!

Do the news media in your area know who your company is? Do you know the reporters, news editor and the person who mans the news desk by name? 

Is the answer NO? Have you ever sent them a press release or called the news hotline? If not, then it is time to stand up and get noticed! 

Are you and your employees involved in the community? 

If your company has a community outreach program, and if your company holds special events to raise money for a charity or a special cause, then you should be notifying the news media, and you should send in a press release. 

Maybe you believe the old saying, “You should not toot your own horn.” That is noble, yet not viable in today’s competitive markets. Customers have so many options when it comes to choosing a product or service, so if you are not tooting your own horn, you simply will not be heard.

If your company and its employees are doing great things or if a new product offering is going to solve a problem for thousands, why not shout it from the rooftops? Keep in mind that if there is ever any negative news involving your company or its employees, the media will not hesitate to cover it, so any positive news you can provide will help with reputation management.

With so much doom and gloom in the news, the editors and producers are looking for the next big “feel good” story. It creates a good balance, and lightens the harsh reality of negative news coverage.

If you do not have experience in media relations and are not sure where to start, here are a few tips to get you started:

  • When announcing an event, be sure it is well planned and genuine. If you are inviting the press, the last thing you want is to have a poorly run event that looks like a media stunt.
  • Make sure the press release covers only one major point, and try to keep it to one page. 
  • In your contact info, include a cell phone number so they can contact you easily. 
  • Always follow up with a phone call to make sure the news desk received the press release. It is a big mistake to assume they have it. 
  • Always provide all the important facts regarding events such as who, what, when, why and where. 
  • If you are told they are not able to cover your event, do not continue to call the same person. If you have another contact, it is fine to double check with them but never harass the news media! You want them to like dealing with you.
  •  It is best to notify them of an event only a few days in advance, then follow up the day of the event. If you notify them a month or more in advance, it may get lost in the shuffle. 
  • Keep in mind that if the President is coming to town, or some other newsworthy event, you may be out of luck. One way to circumvent a conflict is to check online for events and make sure yours is on a different day. 

I hope the above tips help you with your quest for publicity. Just remember – the next time your company is holding a special community event, raising money for a charity, or unveiling a hot new product or service, notify the local news media and send the news desk or editor a press release. Your call may be the one they are waiting for!   

 

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A Thesaurus is Not a Dinosaur

Business Writing Basics

    A thesaurus is not a dinosaur - or is it? When writing a business letter or press release, do you stop to make sure you have chosen the most appropriate words?

    Why is word choice so important? People are bombarded with messages and information. If you don’t grab their attention within 15 seconds, you will lose them! 

    Hello? Are you still with me?

Word processing software has a thesaurus built-in, so with the click of a button, it’s at your fingertips. When in doubt - use it! 

Don’t be repetitive – I can’t emphasize enough, the importance of stating something one time. Repetition in a conversation will make the listener want to walk away. Your reader is not a captive audience so if they are bored, they can and will walk away. Does your writing grab and maintain the reader’s attention or is it long and boring?

Too many words - After writing a letter, press release, ad or Web site copy and reviewing it for typos and repetition, also notice how many words you used to convey your message. During your revision, cross out words that may be eliminated without changing the meaning or impact of your message. Now, doesn’t that sound better?

Keep it simple – The goal is not to impress with your industry jargon and it is not the time to show all your knowledge. Have a clear goal for your writing project and stay on course. Do not write above the knowledge level of your audience!

    Learning to write well takes time and practice; however, if you follow the above tips, your writing will improve and you will hit the mark on your communication goals!

Visit me at www.macwrites.com if you need assistance with your writing project. Thank you!

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Just Say No to Typos

    Are you wearing two, three or more hats at your place of employment? Are you a small business owner who is also functioning as the marketing manager, accountant and sales manager? If you are also the person responsible for writing ad, Web site and brochure copy, or any important business document, you are prone to making errors that may cost you. 

    In personal communications, typos are not such a big deal, maybe just a little embarrassing; however, in the business world it is crucial to communicate effectively and to put forth a good impression. Sending out a letter, proposal, or any document with a typo sends the message that you don’t quite have it together and undermines your professionalism. I hope the tips below will help your writing projects to be a big success and error free!    

  1. Proofread for both typos and inaccuracies – Research your word choice if you are unsure how it should be used and check your facts from the most reliable sources.
  2. Put the writing project aside and return to it later. You will usually have revisions.
  3. Do not rely on spell-check software! It will not catch all of your spelling errors such as using the wrong form of a word.
  4. Proofread everything with more than one pair of eyes, and I don’t mean wear glasses! If possible, have two other people review it for mistakes.
  5. When you have had the last person proofread your copy, you need to proofread it one more time!

    Does the above process sound tedious? Maybe, but it could save you from wasting money and time on an ineffective project, letter, Web site, advertisement, press release or brochure. Save yourself that smack on the forehead when you notice it after it’s too late – or worse, when your potential client points it out to you! I hope you find these tips helpful - Happy writing!

Visit my Web site at www.macwrites.com if you need assistance with a writing project. Thank you.

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