Thursday, September 14, 2006

Get the Media's Attention Today!

If you want magazines and newspapers to feature you in their pages and TV and radio shows to have you as an expert guest, then you need to send out press releases on a consistent basis. After all, repeated media exposure is what helps you and your book become household names.

What exactly is a press release? A press release is a one- to two-page document that shows the media your newsworthy appeal. It's a succinct way to present your unique angle and show the media how what you offer will benefit their audience.

Unfortunately, most speakers don't know how to write an effective press release. In their attempt to entice the media to interview them, they inadvertently write nothing more than a long advertisement that ultimately ends up in the trash.

To get the media to contact you and help you build your name recognition, follow these 6 guidelines for effective press release writing.

1. Craft a compelling headline that solicits interest. Your headline is the most important aspect of your press release, so spend extra time creating it. Use action verbs in your headline, and highlight a benefit you deliver. In your subhead, give extra details to back up your main headline. For example, "Retire a Millionaire in 5 Years or Less: New Book Shows You How." If the headline doesn't get the media's attention, they'll never read the rest of your release, no matter how great an angle you have.

2. Make your first sentence a grabber.Just like your headline, your first sentence must draw people in. If you can't get people to read past the first line, then all your hard work will be for naught. Use a startling fact or a shocking statistic that will make the media take notice. For example, "95% of all seniors retire in debt!" Resist the urge to begin with your name or book title. Even household name celebrities need a strong lead to get the media to take notice.

3. Tell your unique hook in the first paragraph.Immediately after your first sentence, clearly state your "hook" or "angle" - the main thing that sets you, your topic, or your book apart from everyone else. What unique benefit do you offer the media's audience? Research the problem that particular magazine's or show's audience has, and then relate your information to the problem's solution. The only thing the media cares about is their readership or their ratings. They get higher readership and ratings by appealing to their target audience. Understand that audience and what they need, and then tailor your press release accordingly.

4. Go heavy on the benefits.Face it. The media doesn't really care about you, your book, or your topic. All they care about is "What's in it for my audience?" Simply describe your book, your topic, or your expertise, and they'll trash your release. Instead, show them specifically how your information will help their audience. Provide solutions to their audience's problems.
Example:Wrong: "My strategies have helped thousands of companies create breakthrough results." Correct: "Imagine having all the clients you want, triple digit profit increases year after year, and customers who sing your praises on a consistent basis. Now that dream can become reality for your readers."

5. Structure your press release professionally.Nothing turns the media off faster than an unprofessional-looking press release. In the upper left corner write who you're sending the release to. Include the media person's name, title, and magazine or show title. Under that put the words "For Immediate Release" or "For Release On [insert date]." In the upper right corner, put your contact information, including your name, phone number, and e-mail address. Below all the contact information (yours and theirs), put your headline and subhead centered on the page. Keep your paragraphs short, and never write for more than two pages (one page is best).

6. Give your press release a logical flow.A press release is not advertisement. So whatever you do, don't structure it as one. Always present your release as follows:
First paragraph: State your hook.
Second paragraph: Develop your angle by stating benefits.
Third paragraph: Reveal your credentials.
Fourth paragraph: Do a wrap up.
Fifth paragraph: Call to action. Always end your release by offering to arrange an interview with the media contact. For example, "For more information or to interview John Smith, please call 1-800-555-5555 or email

Get the Media's Attention Today!The more media attention you get, the more successful you'll be. Potential clients will call you based on magazine and newspaper interviews, and the audiences you speak to will recognize you, and therefore trust you, from your TV and radio appearances. When you craft a press release that gets the media's attention, you'll gain the name recognition that can boost your speaking career to new heights.

Pam Lontos is owner of PR/PR, a public relations firm that specializes in professional speakers and authors. Having been an author, speaker, and former VP of Disney's Shamrock Broadcasting, she knows the ropes of getting good you publicity and how to use it to really boost your bookings or book sales. Call for a free consultation at (407) 299-6128 or see

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