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Ways to increase press coverage

Ways to increase press coverage If I had put a pound in my piggy bank every time an MD or CEO said to me 'this would make a great story!' I would be wintering in Barbados instead of sitting at my desk writing this. And if I had piggy-banked another pound each time I wrote that 'great story' only to watch it sink into oblivion, I would have bought a house in Barbados and be living there six months of the year...

But I didn't follow my better judgment, so I am offering the following tips in the hope that a handful of open-minded company bosses read this and learn what really makes a 'great story', thus increasing their chances of press coverage.

The first question an editor will ask when they receive a news release is 'why have they sent this to me?' Press releases have to overcome the 'so what?' barrier. If the editor reads it and thinks 'so what?' it will be filed in the wastepaper basket. To increase your chances of getting press coverage your news release, whether destined for online or print publication, needs to be newsworthy and concise.

National papers are notoriously hard to penetrate. They work to tight deadlines and only want hard news. They are just not interested in small, soft stories. They want takeovers and £million deals. The sort of stories that they might be interested in are:

* A contract with a well-known company to recruit a large number of employees, and worth a significant amount of money. * Consultancy/interim management contract with a blue-chip company worth a significant amount of money.

The Sunday papers have more space to fill and have the luxury, if you can call it that, of longer lead-in times. They might cover a story that the daily papers just don't have the time nor column inches to explore in depth. Having said that, the Sundays still adhere to the same principles as the dailies and only the newsworthy and concise need apply.

Trade magazines, on the other hand, have a smaller target audience, so are more likely to cover softer stories. There are 1000's of trade magazines in the UK. You will know your own trade press. The sort of stories they might be interested in include:

* Significantly strengthening your recruitment team * Tendering for and securing consulting deal with well-known company * A deal with company for £200k-£300k * An award for recruitment/consultancy achievement

You might feel you have something important to say about your chosen industry, but unless you have an angle and are willing to research and give examples other than your own company's, the editor will not publish it. Editors' loathe blatant propaganda.

Another equally good and much-undervalued publisher of a newsworthy story is the local press. People often ignore local press because they view it as parochial and pandering to a limited target audience. Remember that most national journalists started out on their local paper: A contact made now might become extremely valuable in the future.

It is important that you send your story to the right person within the local paper/s within your area. Remember that papers outside the area where you operate WILL NOT be interested in your story. The Leicester press, for example, will not want to hear about a Nottingham story and vice-versa.

You will need to establish the name and email address of the business editor. By calling the switchboard, you can ask to be put through to the business editor. Some locals have a daily business page and a weekly business page. If this is the case decide which is best and speak to that editor first and ask if they think you should contact the editor of the weekly/business section? Reporters are notoriously territorial and it should ensure that you get coverage on your chosen page.

If the paper doesn't have a dedicated business editor, ask to be put through to the newsroom and get the name and email address of a reporter. It's always a good idea to give them a taster of what you're sending.

Local papers would be interested in national and trade stories as well as:

* A move to new offices. * A contract to supply a local company. * A consultancy contract with a local company. * Employing local people.

Once you have a valid story and know where you want to send it, the next step is to write the article in a way that appeals to the editor. The editor's mental checklist includes:

Does the news release look professional? If it doesn't, the editor will assume she/he can't trust the information and facts within it.

Is it blatant propaganda? Very few publications will allow you a plug for no reason.

Is it topical? Editors don't want to hear 'recently', 'last week' or 'last month'

Can I read it easily? A sentence that has to be read twice to be deciphered will end up in the bin.

Are they talking to me in language my readers will understand? Has it been written with my readers in mind?

A picture paints a thousand words A high-resolution JPEG (minimum 300dpi) will significantly increase your chances of publication.

And most importantly: Once you have sent your news release, monitor those publications for coverage, if it is published, keep a copy. It is gratifying to see the fruit of one's labours and the published article can be used for other marketing initiatives, such as portfolios, banners, brochures, posters, as background to photos of new team, etc.

Remember, even the best story may not get published. Everything is at the discretion of the editor. But by following these steps you will increase your chances of making it into print.

About the Author:

Clare Jakeman is Internet Director of Alpha Executive Jobs. Clare has over 10 years as an expert in the field of online marketing, PR and recruitment. Visit www.alphaexecutivejobs.com

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