Tips & Tricks

First, its important to know the difference between editorial and advertising. With advertising, you get what you pay for because, well, you have to pay for advertising. You say what you want to say, how you want to say it , and you can be as biased as you want, extolling your virtues to your hearts content. You get to proof the copy before its published and change what you don't like.

Editorial is a different story. Editorial is written by journalists to be factual and unbiased. You don't get to dictate how the story is written, you don't get to see it before its published and you don't have a say in when it appears. In any credible publication, you can't buy editorial. Its free, but its worth much more than advertising.

When preparing your new release, think "news". What's new? What's special? What's different? Why should anyone care? Would you care if it wasn't your company/product/service?

"Put your story front and center," says Alfred Holden, assistant business editor at the Toronto Star in Toronto.

Find something newsworthy . Target your approach then get to the point, stick to the facts and the belief that solid market information is what gets published. Forget puffery. Explain the product, even if its technical, in a way that will be understood by people who are not experts in the field.

News releases should include your name, address, e-mail and phone number, not just that of a public relations company, and tell when the service will be available. Make the journalists job as easy as you can . "its not the big picture that gets these journalists down. It's the little things that get in their way over and over again. News releases without lists of contacts; contacts who are never there or who don't answer their voice mail until the end of the day… news news conferences," says the Angus Reid Survey.

Adding reams of corporate history to the release is another waste of time and money. And forget about quotes telling about how great the sales staff is. Editors won't use those kinds of quotes.

Other Tips:

Include words such as :"first, best and biggest" only if you can prove it and avoid overused words such as "unique"

Before you send out a news release, familiarize yourself with the publication you want to pitch your idea to, then find out who to direct the query to. Check the masthead, call the specific department or ask at the switchboard.

Buckshoting information with the flick of an email or fax is not high on journalists' likability lists. Instead, single out individuals and find out how they prefer to receive their information.

Don't get a reputation for sending useless releases, and don't send out many releases. When dealing with magazines, phone and ask for an editorial line up, which will tell you what topics the publication plans to cover, and when. More importantly, find out what the final dates are for material. Don't send releases so long in advance that they're going to yellow.

Another way to get publicity, and to build your credibility, is to write a guest column. You provide the column to the publication for free in return for credit, and sometimes a picture to accompany the column. A word of advice: if you can't write, hire a ghost writer. Editors don't have the time to do major rewriting and are more likely to use material that requires little editing.