Press releases and publicity: When you should pay, and when to not

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News release
How do you get attention for your news releases and publicity messages? Here are some suggestions.

I’m impressed how some contractors, architects and engineers make effective (and sometimes excessive) use of news releases, while the majority don’t.

The ones that get it right don’t overdo it, think about the relevant media audience, and provide essential information while toning down the puff and fluff. Photos are almost always helpful.

The ones that get it wrong overload the media publisher’s inbox with trivial and self-serving announcements. They become especially annoying if they phone or otherwise badger folks like me to publish their stories. Almost inevitably, I will send these requests to the advertising department.

We have a few clients who support us with advertising and their news releases always get special attention and generally are published, though I’ll still edit them to comply with editorial standards, and give them prominence appropriately based on their readership relevance and value.

The majority of our advertisers, however, fail to take advantage of this opportunity. I will remind them, but don’t force the issue — after all it is extra work.

Many search engine optimization practitioners offer “free content” — which I will almost inevitably decline. But if they framed their content within the structure, newsworthiness, style and format of a proper news release, there’s a good chance I would use their content. You don’t need to ask permission to send a news release, after all.

Remember as well that a good news release can serve multiple functions. You can post it on your own website, and connect it to relevant social media channels. And when it is published, you can rebroadcast it through social media or perhaps an updated web posting at your site.

The cost: If you do the work yourself, nothing but your time. If you contract with public relations and marketing companies to do it for you, you may end up paying significant fees. (And the PR firms get too pushy with me, I push right back — why should I give a business free publicity because they are paying some PR consultant!) In this context, if you are ready to pay for publicity, give our advertising rep a call and spend a few dollars with us.

In conclusion, media releases can be really good (and inexpensive/even free) ways to bootstrap your business reputation and marketing. If you wish to pay consultants to generate publicity, combine it with some media advertising buys, however. You’ll enhance your investment and generate the good-will you need for effective publicity.

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