Public Relations Tips

PR Tip #1
Too many people skip the PR plan, but it’s probably the most important tool in creating an effective public relations program. It tells you where you are, details your PR objectives, audiences, key messages and schedules specific actions you must take to achieve the public relations results you want.

PR Tip #2
A professional PR plan will outline both strategies and tactics to reach your PR objectives and will highlight any additional budget requirements. Better still, it will prompt proper measurement and evaluation. You really don’t want to be without this PR tool if you want your PR activity to make an impact.

PR Tip #3
Don’t use worn out, overused words. Stay away from "wonderful" and "remarkable." We know Exchange does great things, but everyone claims they are wonderful and great. Stick to the facts. Strong facts prove that you do deserve to stand out from the crowd. Avoid jargon and acronyms in a press release. You may know what they mean, but can you be sure the journalist receiving the release does?

PR Tip #4
Reporters simply want to tell the best story possible. They want to appeal to their readers, outshine competitor publications and break the most interesting news story.

PR Tip #5
Become a sound bite machine. The best ones are rarely informational, and only serve the purpose of adding flavor to the story. Give some thought to what you say to help the reporter tell both an informative and entertaining story. For example: don’t say "It’s just about over." Do say "The fat lady isn’t singing yet, but I can hear her clearing her throat."

PR Tip #6
Provide your direct phone number and direct email address on all press releases, even the online versions. Make sure clear PR contact details are available on your website, too. In addition to including your street address, consider providing maps, driving directions or locator.

PR Tip #7
Even the most nonvisual story can be made visual if you’re creative. Dog biscuits? Boring. A dog birthday party? Now you’re barking up the right tree! Don’t forget visuals for the folks in radio. Your segment will always be better if the host has something to describe for the listener. Show and tell isn’t just for kindergarten. The more you show, the better the chances are that the press will tell your story.

PR Tip #8
Appreciate slow news days and take advantage of them. The slowest times are when government offices are closed, around holidays and weekends. So get out your calendar and start circling dates! Time the event appropriately to improve your chances of getting the news coverage you want: morning, noon, or evening.

PR Tip #9
A word of warning, if you use Microsoft’s word tracker, be sure to turn it off and ensure all coding is removed before you send it. Otherwise, journalists get to see all the management changes and comments which could be very embarrassing.

PR Tip #10
Return reporters’ calls within an hour, if possible. They are usually on tight deadlines and they appreciate (and occasionally reward) promptness. If they leave a message for a member who is not available or can’t be reached, another member should return the call. You don’t want to hear on the evening newscast that your club "could not be reached for comment."

PR Tip #11
Offer photos, charts or graphs with your PR and marketing material, as it often raises the interest of editors. E-mail pitches can include links to downloadable pictures at online pressrooms (never send unsolicited email attachments).

PR Tip #12
Pictures sell. When journalists and their readers see your pictures, the product or service becomes more tangible - they can see for themselves. There’s no doubt that the copy in your releases, letters, and web pages is critical to generating interest and responses. However, your chances of getting print or broadcast PR coverage increase significantly when you include good visual elements.

PR Tip #13
Everything your club sends to the media should be polished and error-free. You cannot place too much emphasis on having a system for proofing. There is nothing worse than embarrassing typos or misspellings. And don’t just rely on your spell check. 
It doesn’t spot correctly "spelt" typo mistakes! The best solution is to have someone read over your press release before you send it anywhere.

PR Tip #14
Make sure you‘re sending releases to relevant publications. This may mean you need to either buy or request a copy of the magazine before sending anything. Nothing is more insulting to an editor than someone calling to see if the magazine is going to publish a press release when they clearly have never read the magazine. Remember that not all releases are relevant for all the magazines you want to target.

PR Tip #15
If you want to write for the news, you need to read the news. Subscribe to the publications, newsletters and websites that you want to be seen in. Put aside 30 to 40 minutes every couple of days to scan the headlines. Mark up the pages you want to read and catch up on the train or bus, or at the end of the day.

PR Tip #16
An attention-grabbing headline is essential for great PR coverage. If you are sending your release by email, the same goes for the subject heading. Your email and the headline of the release should feature a gripping subject line. Not "Press release from:." Trust us, this is not gripping. Simply state what the story is about and why it is of interest to the publication’s readers in a short sentence.

PR Tip #17
During an interview, don’t think about the number of people watching. Focus only on having a one-on-one conversation with the interviewer. When you are live, you steer the conversation. Anchors are limited by time. Use that fact to your advantage. Be open and honest. It will endear you to the audience.

PR Tip #18
Knowing the areas that journalists will focus on helps you to tailor your pitches, news releases and articles to particular issues. As always, helping editors and journalists by providing the stories they need earns you goodwill and increased attention.

PR Tip #19
By providing reporters with newsworthy information in a timely manner; in a format they‘re familiar with, by making sure the information gets to the right party, and by using the communications vehicle of their choice (post, e-mail or fax), you are setting your club up to receive some well-deserved coverage.

PR Tip #20
When you are contacting a reporter, go ahead and throw the fastball; one sentence that sums up the way the anchor would lead in. Introduce the idea of competition. "Your competitor expressed an interest," or "Didn’t want to leave you out," may be powerful phrases you can add to any pitch. Members of the media don’t want to be left out of the breaking news loop.

PR Tip #21
If your story isn’t newsworthy, it won’t be used. Four things to consider: Impact - does it affect other people’s lives? Interest - does your story capture people’s interest? Proximity - newspapers and media largely focus on hometown and regional stories. Pertinence - make sure your story relates to today’s news so it makes tomorrow’s papers.

PR Tip #22
With so much competition for media time, consider alternatives to traditional outlets such as: online publications, electronic billboards, trade publications, local access cable stations, corporate newsletters, student and alumni publications, and community bulletin boards.

PR Tip #23
Soft news stories have a human interest, entertainment focus or a statistical and survey approach. This is your chance to be creative and have fun with the news. One major advantage of softer news is that many of the stories have a longer shelf life: they can be used at any time the reporter deems appropriate.

 

PR Tip #24
After carefully crafting your press release, don’t spoil it all by sending the release to your entire press list, with the entire recipient list visible. Your contact list in the TO: field gives away the fact that several hundred journalists have the information. The reporter may assume someone else is covering it, so why bother–it won’t be unique. Journalists all like to feel special, even if they know otherwise.

PR Tip #25
Make the reporters’ job easy by being interesting and choosing an interesting location to put your story in the right light. And if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Jump on the bandwagon and come up with an angle that ties in to a big story.

PR Tip #26
Some on-air radio personalities talk about current issues. Try to connect with a producer or on-air personality and promote your cause or event. Ideal opportunities include fundraisers, issue awareness or hearing that a particular personality has an affinity for a certain kind of issue. Then you need to develop a creative way to reach that person.

PR Tip #27
Photographers are always looking for real people doing real things. The most interesting pictures feature people involved in an activity. The more interesting the activity, the more compelling the photo.

 

PR Tip #28
Studies of photographs in newspapers have always shown that stories accompanied by photographs are far more likely to be read than those without photographs. Also, stories that have photographs usually get better placement on the page than stories that don’t. It’s imperative, therefore, to think visually.

PR Tip #29
Try to establish relationships with reporters and photographers who have experience on a particular issue. They might be more willing to see the vision that you have for the story.

 

PR Tip #30
If you have a press release, be sure one goes to the photo assignment desk, because sometimes the photographer might be interested in something that the metro desk doesn’t care for. A picture truly is worth a thousand words. And if your pictures are good enough, they’ll end up on the front page next to a thousand-word article.

Back to main PR Guide page