Communication Made Easy — Speaking, Editing, Writing, Marketing, Networking Answers

A picture may be worth 1,000 words, but words themselves are at the basis of all communication. Whether we are communicating for business or personal reasons, our spoken and written words matter. These posts will address issues and answer questions related primarily to business communications, as they affect writing, credibility, marketing, and networking.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Why Media Releases Work

Many small businesses have limited budgets when it comes to marketing and public relations. If your budget forces you to choose between spending your dollars on advertising vs. spending them on public relations, a good PR person will get you more bang for your buck every time.

The job of a PR firm is to get you face time in the media, whether in the form of an article in the local paper or a spot on a national news program.

Which do you think carries more weight with readers and viewers? An ad they know you paid for, or a third-party story about you, your company, or your event?

Question: Do you have to hire a PR firm to get your media release noticed?
Answer: It’s a good idea — but it’s not always necessary.

It is possible to have your story picked up from a media release you write yourself. A well written media release, put in front of the right editor or news programmer, will generate a story — regardless of whether you hired a PR person to write it for you, or you wrote it yourself.


A good PR firm/publicist has contacts in the media, and will work those contacts to get your story visible coverage. You will pay a good fee for this service (generally in the neighborhood of $150-$300/hour). The reason you're paying so much is primarily for your publicist's connections — as that is what is more likely to get your story media coverage. A good publicist knows the writers/reporters/editors/producers personally, will call them up, and will stay on them to cover an event or story.

If you are trying to create visibility around a huge event, an experienced publicist really is a MUST, as they will be able to offer all the expertise required to perform a successful media blitz.


Most PR firms work on a retainer basis — some pre-determined fee that covers X number of hours worth of work on a monthly or quarterly basis. However, please keep in mind that no one can promise you they will get you coverage. Seriously, RUN from any PR person who makes a guarantee of any sort. Promises are unrealistic. There's a saying among publicists that publicity is a gift. A good publicist WILL deliver, mind you — but no one can realistically promise you coverage.

What you'll want to know about firms you're considering is what kinds of media placement they've received for their current clients. This means doing your research. There are several PR people in the Phoenix area who may be good at what they do, but failed miserably to produce any media coverage for my clients. Make sure that if someone promises you the moon, they can deliver.

A relationship with a PR person/firm requires the ultimate in finesse and a great, trusting bond. If your publicist doesn't have any passion for what you do, they can't possibly do a good job for you. If they don't understand your business, or what exactly your goals are, they won't be able to generate coverage for you.


If you are a strong writer, chances are you can craft a good media release that will garner notice and result in a story. The more you do of them, the more your name will stay in front of the editors/producers whose attention you are trying to attract, and the more practice you will get.

Even if you are not a strong writer, you probably can hire a good writer for $50-$100/hour, which will save you a considerable amount of money, vs. hiring a PR firm simply to construct a media release for you. However, if broad, visible coverage is a must for your business, you probably are better off going the publicist route.


Find something newsworthy about your business or organization. Some PR newsletters suggest sending out a minimum of one media release per week, the idea being to get your name in front of the people who can help you, and keep it there. There’s a fine line, though, between being persistent and being a pest.

So what’s newsworthy about your business?

- You have a new branch/location.
- You have a seasonal product/service.
- You can tie your product/service to a popular trend.
- You’ve added exciting new staff members — or landed a highly sought-after board member.
- You’ve established a new partnership — or secured a distinguished new client.
- You or one of your staff receives a promotion.
- Your or a member of your staff has received an honor or an award.
- You or one of your staff has been acknowledged for a significant achievement.
- You’ve exceeded your quarterly or annual financial goals.
- You are participating in a community service event.
- You have a specific event to promote.


1. Use the term "media release" instead of "press release." There are many forms of media now — "press" is passé, and some editors are touchy about the term.

2. Be sure to use the 3 C’s: clear language, compelling language, and correct language.

3. Be judicious about your use of jargon and acronyms in your media release. The only time this might be appropriate would be for a trade magazine, but even then, use discretion. You don’t want your otherwise-effective release tossed in the trash because the first person to read it does not have a clue what you’re talking about.

4. Write in third person, even if you’re writing about yourself.

5. Use a quotation from someone connected to your event, award, promotion, even if it’s your own quote.

6. Double-space it and keep it short — 300 to 500 words MAX.

7. Get it to the proper editor or producer (i.e., don’t send a story about your satin slipper business to the sports editor).

8. Allow enough lead time (generally 2 to 4 weeks — but it’s up to you to research this for the particular media outlet you’re contacting).

9. Find out how the media outlet you’re approaching prefers to receive their releases: in the body of e-mail, as e-mail attachments, or via fax.

10. If you do send an e-mail, be specific in your Subject Line — perhaps use the headline from your release.

11. Do NOT call to "check whether they got your release." This is guaranteed to get your release tossed in the trash.

12. You may, however, call back to "add" further details to your release. All you’ve actually done is hold back something of a bit of importance from the original release, but when you call, you act as though it is an added "development." IF the added info is important enough and you handle it correctly, this quite often will move your release to the top of the pile, or you will be asked to re-send it.

13. Don’t get discouraged if your story is not picked up on your first try — but keep on trying! There are so many media outlets, and they all need copy! You can provide that with a well-written release about something newsworthy.

14. Try online sites like and Prudent Press Agency. These are Internet sites for posting media releases and articles that generate great visibility. They have fabulous rankings on the major search engines!

15. Hire a pro to help you craft the perfect media release.


Panoply Creative Services
602.253.8463 —

Editorial Consulting
- Writing/Editing/Wordsmithing
- Project & Content Coordination
- Insight & Facilitation
- Web Copy & PowerPoint Presentations
- Tailored, Targeted Messages

Creativity Training
- Consulting
- Visualization
- Brainstorming & Idea Wizardry
- Speaking & Workshops

Shop for the Perfect Gift