Getting yourself press is one of the best things you can do for your business. It’s more than just free advertising; it’s a third-party validation of your value to that all-important second party, your consumers. But while you’re throwing these parties, you may not be studying up on the mistakes many people make when contacting the media. When you're sipping that champagne, here are five things to bare in mind to avoid when promoting your business and its events:
1. Don’t wait until the last minute.
Most journalists appreciate plenty of lead time and often even have their coverage planned out weeks ahead. Even if your event is a long way's off, once you have the basic details set in stone, get the word out. As more specifics are ironed out, you can issue follow-up info, which is a great way of keeping you on the radar during the lead-up. Of course, if circumstances force you to give the media short notice of an event, c’est la vie. You just need to make your pitch damn good.
2. Don’t assume anyone cares.
They don’t! Or at least, you should never count on it. You are a drop of water in the deluge that's bombarding the journalists of our fair city each day. You may think you’ve got the greatest thing since spam in a can on your hands, but take the time to step outside yourself. What makes this unique and relevant? How can you give yourself a hook to snag the interest of some of the most jaded and preoccupied people around?
3. Don’t bury the lead.
You’ve got your hook? Great. Don’t hide it. Make sure a mere glance at your press release gets it across. You’ve only got seconds in which the recipient will either be convinced to read on or not. Make your case, and make it with impact and immediacy.
4. Don’t use hackneyed language.
The recipient of your press release has heard it all, so don't test their patience with overused adjectives and phrases because they will quickly lose interest. Bust out the thesaurus and distinguish yourself! Just don’t ever let your enthusiasm for originality ever take away from the task of presenting your information in a clear, easily digestible way.
5. Don't make anything challenging.
Make it hard not to write about you. With so much to cover, overworked journalists are often looking for the path of least resistance to creating their content. Once you have their attention, you want to make everything so easy they can't resist. Write it for them. Give them all the background. Give them all the details they’d ever need. Give them quotes from those involved. Give them whatever media would be appropriate (print-quality photos, B-roll video, audio samples, etc). Make it clear that interviews and visits to your event can easily be arranged. Do everyone a favor and give a journalist their next story on a sliver platter.
Steer clear of these mistakes and you stand a good chance of getting yourself some nice coverage. Of course, if you’re already overworked yourself, or don’t have a knack for self-promotion, it might be worth investing in a PR professional to do this dirty work for you!
Guy F. Wicke is the founder of Wicke International, a media relations firm dedicated to the performing arts, which has promoted events and organizations across Chicagoland and beyond. A Chicago native and a performer himself, he is passionate about bridging the gap between artists and journalists to spread the word about unique theater and help it to thrive. He makes no claims to be some kind of PR guru, just a very talented and handsome man.