Monday, June 27, 2011

Write a Press Release That Gets Printed

Getting your press release printed goes back to what most of us know.  Know your reporter. Reporters and editors are overworked, under paid great people providing a service to our communities. 

Find out what you can do for your reporter with a good press release.  Make their day by easing their work.  No ALL CAPS; proof, proof, and proof again; make sure it is really news; provide a photo with a full caption that they can chop, put the important things first (so they can chop from the bottom); thank them when it is printed and the finally do not get upset if there are errors (most people won't notice the errors and the ones that do, you know they have read the article).

I could stop right here, but there are a few reminders that some veteran press release writers may need to hear.

  1. Make sure it is news. (This deserves its own blog entry.  Read next week's)
  2. Keep a consistent format for all your news releases. Provide a Headline to capture the essence of the release.Write the body of the press release. Give the 5 Ws & an H.  Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. Provide contact info if the reporter wants more information. I always put my cell number here. 
  3. Provide the most important information first.  Place things that are good to have but unnecessary to the story at the end. This is the inverted pyramid style. The most important thing first, next important is second and so it continues. A reporter when placing a story will be able to cut from the bottom saving time. We are not attempting to be writers of literature. We want news coverage. (Remember too much to do, too little time.) 
  4. Keep it short. Too much copy and the editor/reporter is overwhelmed with the task of cutting it to fit.  It may be deleted before the editor/reporter reads it. 
  5. Provide eye-popping photos with clear captions written with the 5 Ws and 1 H. There is no excuse for poor photography today with digital cameras.  Take dozens to get one good shot. Clearly identify all people in photos.
  6. Send it to the right person. Send it to an editor or reporter with whom you have an established  relationship. Calendar items are different.  Send those to your calendar editors at every media outlet within your area.
  7. Thank the reporter/editor after the piece appears in print.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

14 Principles help this business owner

I had very little time to put together my blog post this week. Normally, I upload it on Sunday. Now on Tuesday, I’m making the time.I’m going to focus on something that most people will think is hardly business or publishing related—creating my list of unifying principles.

I first created this list in 1988. Still a young mother and bride, I decided to run for political office on the local level. Life was chaotic—running a household while my spouse worked full time and attend night classes as a full-time student. We had two daughters in elementary school and I had spent much time as a volunteer at the school and as the fundraising coordinator for the sixth grade.

Many people ask me how I live my life and how I am so very clear about what I will do, what I will not, who I choose to be around and where I live. I try to make every choice a conscious one. I developed this list to help me live my life.

  1. I am honest. Of all my principles this is the litmus test of my actions. I must be aware (be honest with myself) of my motives and needs. I must act and speak disclosing my intentions. Although most people do not operate this way—to live happily with myself I must continue to be completely overt in my life.
  2. I remember to see the humor In life. With honesty first, when life is difficult or I meet real challenges embodied as people, I must remember not to take life too seriously. Remembering to laugh lightens the load of tears.
  3. I am a spiritual person. I take time to listen to my inner self. Every morning before 8:00 a.m. I will take 15 minutes to meditate. I realize that I am a spiritual but not religious person. I honor that. I seek to ensure all my actions are performed working toward goals which are for the betterment of individuals and the universe. All good goes out from and returns to me.
  4. I live my life in concert with these unifying principles. I review my principles daily for the month of December and then weekly throughout each year. During the month of November I may rearrange or add or delete principles as I see the need.
  5. I am a good partner in my primary relationship. I treat Peter in the way that he needs (not as I want to be treated). I work to learn more about his wants, desires and needs. I take time to say, “I love you,” in action. I give him plenty of hugs and kisses.
  6. I am a successful parent of adult children. I take time for each of my daughters. I easily love Jessica and Stefanie. I strive to treat my daughters as competent, independent, confident adults.
  7. I am a successful published author. I plan out my books and articles and allot time for completing each project as a priority secondary only to family.
  8. I see lessons in each challenge I face. I am not overcome by defeat and failure. I truly learn from every setback. These become stepping stones to success.
  9. I am an active and responsible community leader. I work in the community toward good. I maintain contact with others in the community to be aware of feelings in the community. I select issues and causes which will create a greater good in the community.
  10. I maintain a healthy body. I exercise a minimum of four times a week, using kayaking, hiking, yoga, chi kung, bicycling and walking as my methods. I eat sensibly with restraint. I elect to consume no meat, little caffeine, little alcohol and no drugs which are unnecessary for my health. If I can achieve wellness without foreign substances; that I will do. I will continue to maintain full use of my right shoulder and right knee.
  11. I continue to grow intellectually. I read voraciously. I maintain “to read lists” garnered from multiple sources and work on continuing to read books that make me a well-rounded, educated person.
  12. I am an orderly person. Daily I use fifteen minutes to plan my day and organize. I work to keep my personal and working spaces orderly and controlled allowing me to be my most creative self without the distraction of mess and disorder.
  13. I honor every person as worthy of dignity and respect. I remember to be tolerant of others’ shortcomings. In the heat of argument and discussion I remember the person with whom I am dealing not just our cause. I treat all people with dignity, respect and love.
  14. I care for my authors and clients. In my business I care for each client and help each to be successful in his/her goals. I work with each asking them the question. What do you want to achieve? Are our actions in our business together working for that goal? What do we need to change? And what do we need to continue?”

I feel good about all of these principles and feel like I am acting on each (except number seven) on a regular basis.

The one that I have neglected is “I am a successful published author.” I have neglected that in my business as a publisher, I have neglected my own writing. Beginning today, I will write for one hour between 6-7 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

And that is the final note on these unifying principles. I make long and short term goals that are measurable. The principle about maintaining full use of my right shoulder and right knee required months of physical therapy and home exercises. I have full range of motion on my shoulder and my knee only aches after several hours of hiking. At 57, that’s not bad.