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Getting Ink - How To Publicize Your I.T Business

While there’s been much noise about the demise of the press recently, the truth is that there’s more media around than  ever. The big dif­fer­ence is that the “press” has changed con­sid­er­ably over the last five years – it’s now gone elec­tronic,    has wider dis­tri­b­u­tion than ever, and includes other media out­lets like blogs, online news oper­a­tions, Face­book and   Twitter. I spent many years in the news­pa­per indus­try, and a few years out of it as an advi­sor to entre­pre­neurs on how to get  arti­cles in tra­di­tional media.  Now I do much new media con­sult­ing, but the ques­tions remain the same: How do I get  some ink?

Today, the media’s need for infor­ma­tion is insa­tiable, and as a result it’s never been eas­ier for small busi­nesses to  achieve that Holy Grail of mar­ket­ing – a men­tion in the media.  How­ever, with media pro­lif­er­a­tion also come higher  speed and an avalanche of com­pe­ti­tion for attention. But the bot­tom line is that you can get noticed by the media today if you know how to issue a press release that cre­ates a com­pelling story.

To that end, here are some gen­eral tips to what used to be called “get­ting ink”.

The “Why Should I Care” fac­tor. Never “announce” any­thing in the old cor­po­rate press release style because, frankly, nobody cares.  Apple may be able to “announce” some­thing and be noticed because of its sheer weight and heft. But Acme won’t.  Announce­ments are pompous and instant death for small, unknown, busi­nesses. In this high-speed cul­ture, you’re just not that important. The job of the peo­ple who receive press releases is to find inter­est­ing infor­ma­tion that will arrest their read­ers or view­ers for a few moments and draw them into read­ing on or con­tin­u­ing to view.  They are your first and only tar­get, so pro­vide them with what they need to do their jobs. Don’t make it about you, but about the media outlet’s read­ers or viewers.

Get to the point. You’ll have about 3–5 sec­onds to attract atten­tion before receivers move on to the next release. So make your head­line, sub­head and lead-sentence show-stoppers that draw them into the next sen­tence or two and thus gain you a few more sec­onds. Bor­row from blog writ­ing method­ol­ogy and make strong declar­a­tive ben­e­fit state­ments, or problem-solution equa­tions, i.e. “How xxxxx can pre­vent yyyy,” or “Six ways to do xxxxx”. Write press releases like blogs. The Inter­net has trained every­body to read dif­fer­ently. Pro­vide very use­ful and also some­what enter­tain­ing infor­ma­tion, and use a lot of bold­faced sub­heads so the media reader can get a sense of the story by skim­ming. One way to do this is not to write the press release in lin­ear style, but ini­tially con­cen­trate on the story the sub­heads tell. Then you can infill with reg­u­lar writing.

Tar­get, tar­get, tar­get the end media con­sumer. Most press releases try to speak to “every­body”, which doesn’t work today. The mass has been shat­tered into thou­sands of dif­fer­ent sub­ject mat­ter shards. You have to hit the right emo­tional points of ONE group of peo­ple you pur­port to serve. Study your ideal cus­tomer pro­file and deter­mine the prob­lem points that will stir up emo­tions. The media receiver will also rec­og­nize them.


Tell one story. Most ama­teur (and some pro­fes­sional) press release writ­ers take a shot­gun, or smor­gas­bord approach, try­ing to com­bine sev­eral sto­ry­lines into one press release, i.e. “we’re doing this, AND we’re doing that, and we’re think­ing of doing some­thing else too. ” First of all, nobody cares what you’re doing. Sec­ond, telling two (or three or four) sto­ries mud­dies up the waters and makes the media per­son work too hard to find a story. Unless you’re very impor­tant – and you’re not (See Point 1, Apple) – stick to one storyline.

Think film and radio. Increas­ingly, media is visual and aural, as in tele­vi­sion, YouTube and rip-and-read radio (that’s online and offline radio peo­ple who sim­ply grab a press release, read out the juicy bits, and some­times make a com­ment on it). 

See how you can make your story more visual with film or audio, and let the media out­let know that. If you don’t have great film, no tele­vi­sion out­let will touch you. Increas­ingly, blogs and online media prize sto­ries that also have some video attached, because they attract read­ers (and are tweet­able or sharable on sites like Facebook).


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