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How to Run a Successful News Release Program

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Marketing public relations gives you cost effective ways to reach your audience. The trade-off, however, is time. It takes time to develop and execute public relations programs. It can take time for these programs to yield rewards.

Here are six simple steps for developing a news release program that extends your reach and generates inquiries at a fraction of the cost of advertising.

1) DETERMINE YOUR AUDIENCE AND MESSAGE. If you have a marketing or communications plan in place, you already have audiences and messages defined. No need to reinvent for your news release program, although you may need to select audiences and messages that are most appropriate.

2) BUILD A LIST. Once you know your audience, you’ll need a list of publications they’re likely to read. A great place to go to create a list is http://www.medialistsonline.com – a service of Bacon’s. It’s reasonably priced and fast. The downside is the lists come with no updates. You may need to re-purchase your list several times during a year. Or it may make more sense for you to buy a media directory subscription.

However you build your list, make it broad. With a news release program you can send releases to many more publications than you can afford to advertise in. Sending a release just entails paper, printing, a photo, an envelope and a stamp.

3) DETERMINE NEWSWORTHY TOPICS. This is a tricky but critical step. You’ll need to think like a member of your target audience. What’s going to interest him or her? Usually it’s new stuff -- products, services, applications, literature, software. If you don’t have these to write about, your news releases might not get past the editors’ trash can.

4) INCLUDE A PHOTO. Publications can be hungry for visuals so send one with your release – a photo, illustration, chart or graph. In most cases a 3” x 5” glossy B&W print and a color slide will work. Be sure to send good quality visuals since the quality will reflect on you.

5) SET A SCHEDULE – AND STICK TO IT. Sending releases regularly lets editors know you’re reliable. If you have six topics for the year, send out a release every other month. Twelve topics – one a month. General rule for monthly publications is one release per editor per month.

6) MEASURE RESULTS AND LEARN. It takes about three months before your releases will show up in monthly publications. Less time for pubs that come out more often.

Track what runs, where it runs, how much space you get and inquiries generated. You can use this information to measure results and improve your program.

Copyright 2004 Clairvoyant Communications, Inc. About the author Claire Cunningham, president of Clairvoyant Communications, Inc., has 20+ years’ experience developing and implementing successful marketing and communications programs. Sign up for Claire’s monthly newsletter, Communiqué, at http://www.clairvoyantcommunications.com Claire can be reached at 763-479-3499 (Fax: 763-479-2809, e-mail: claire@claircomm.com)


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