Monday, 13 February 2012

The Perfect Press Release

The perfect press release does not exist. No, literally, it's a press release that doesn't exist.

Coming up on the 15th of March I'm holding a seminar to look at the ways that small business and sole traders can take advantage of the media in the same ways that the well-connected big businesses can and my starting point is the press release.

I hate press releases.

During the time that I was a professional broadcaster, producer and journalist I can't remember a time when I covered a story from an unsolicited press release, from an unknown contact.

It never happened.

So why didn't they work? In an average day I would get at least 200 emails, two thirds of which were press releases; of those press releases three quarters would be from people that I'd dealt with before, and of those the majority would be from media companies whose job it was to place interviews for their clients. So I had to make a decision between trusted sources and unknown quantities... I'd go for the trusted sources.

You have to put this into the context of how a radio newsroom works and the sort of staffing involved. I presented for a station that had 100,000 listeners. I presented and produced the programme with the second highest figures but the longest hours of the station. I was the most important voice on the station after 9. So how many people were working on this behemoth? Yes, that's right, there were 2 of us and as much help as we could buy in...

2 of us to producing and presenting 15 hours of live radio a week. Both working 8 hour days. 3 of those hours were on air 1 hour would be preparing before the show and 1 hour was eating lunch. That gives you a grand total of 3 hours production time a day to find around 35 stories to broadcast each week.

I don't want to give the impression that I didn't love the job, it was great, it's just that the perception of what presenters producers and journalists have to do is very different from the outside. I used to meet people who would assume that I worked 3 hours a day and had everything done for me by a team of minions. Not in the provinces.

So back to the press release issue. If I only had 3 hours to deal with things the fastest way would be to go to the sources that I knew would deliver value and, the chances are, I wouldn't even read past the headline of the unsolicited press release from someone new.

I have to say that this revelation of modus operandi is no shock to anyone who's worked in any news room outside the nationals or network. You have to do what gets the job done.

So where does that leave you as a small business or a sole trader with a wonderful story? It leaves you with one option that a lot of the big boys forget, it leaves you with an option that so few people attempt because it fills them with fear. It may be that you are able to pin competitors to the floor in business but as soon as you step outside the comfort zone it all changes.

What do you do??

You make a phone call....

Scary eh?

For more on "Journalist Whispering" Join the seminar.

£55 per person including VAT (£44 excluding)
09.30 - 12.30, Thursday the 15th of March.
Gloucestershire Enterprise Training Centre, Twigworth Court Business Centre, Twigworth. GL2 9PG

Email for more detail via

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