Wednesday, March 2, 2011

How to Create Your Own Publicity 101

Ok, so you've read my last post about how to get your projects off the ground but you may not have thought about how do I get the media's attention. As we all know the media can make or break an idea, talent or concept. Especially, now that we have more ways to connect with each other "socially". We've all seen the "How To Be Famous In Week' books and seminars but here are some tried and true methods used by the best in the business.

Here are 5 ways to approach the media:

1. When writing the pitch, help reporters find the relevance.  They are not as familiar with the story as you are.  Explain the key topics and offer multiple pointers. When coming up with pointers, think of the big picture, which is at the top of the pitch, then break the big picture down into smaller story angles.  Make sure to summarize the most important points that provide a sense of the big picture.  Sometimes you may need to provide multiple aspects / angles to the story for the reporter to find the one that fits their beat.

2. Start thinking in headlines.  A headline is short, snappy, clear and concise.  When creating the headline, think about what the story is about and how you want the media and public to react.  People scan headlines and make a decision on whether the story is important to them or not.  To make this easier, start looking at terrific headlines and see how the writer is composing them.  Be careful of writing overly catchy headlines if they misrepresent the story.

3. Be sure to “format” the release.  If you follow a standard format, your release will look more professional.  The words “For Immediate Release,” your company logo, contact information, including name, company name, phone number and email address, place line identifying town, state or country and date should be included.  The company boilerplate goes at the bottom.  Contact information can either go at the top or the bottom. I prefer the bottom because the top end of the release can look a little crowded, but that is just a personal preference.  Look at other press releases for ideas and formats.

4. Writing for TV and Radio is much different than writing for print and internet media.  These media outlets cannot take your story and re-print it.  If they are interested they have to book guests, prepare the questions and then produce the segment.  Headlines are really important since they capture the producer’s attention.  Write your “release” in bullet points and in order of importance.  Keep the points brief and write no more than eight points.  The producers are looking for story ideas so, write to stimulate their imaginations.  As with print journalists, it’s important to know the show format and the subjects they cover.

5. Testimonials can be very powerful.  They can help build your credibility and business.  They lend credit to the statements that you are making, and more importantly, people have a tendency to believe people like themselves rather than the person pushing the product.  Limit the person’s testimonial to a couple of paragraphs on their letterhead.

And Action!
1. Work on an angle for your self-promotion. “The Hook.”

2. Research Blogs, local papers, local magazines, local radio shows, on-line radio shows, podcasts, and local television stations, where your story would be a good fit.

3. Design your pitch and your press release (a great free tool for doing press releases is Lisa Manyon’s press release producer

4. Invest in Jane LaBonte’s book for 96 more Secrets to Successfully Creating Your Own Publicity

Samantha is a pro, but with some great free tools, and some guidance, you can be your own best publicist!

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