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The Headline. And when to use a Subhead.

Of the 5Ws, the headline is the most important. When creating the headline, make it effective. Use this guide: Be Informative; Keep it Short; and Make it Relevant.

It’s ok to be creative, but not so much that it sounds like an ad, or too creative that it sounds untrue. Don’t mislead or make false claims.

Headline Examples

“Incredible Technology Boosts Mileage For Diesel Engines”. This is too sensational. Is the technology really incredible? What is the amount of the Boost? And is the technology new?

Stay away from headlines such as, “Limited Time Only! Amazing Deals On Step Ladders From The RV Ladder Store! Only $299!”

Although extreme, this does happen. Businesses get excited about their sales, or discounted products thinking it’s newsworthy.

Headlines should be 60-80 characters. Use a subhead to further explain the news. Subheads have added information to support the headline and not intended to be a stand-alone title. Here is an example.

Headline: “New York Couple Wins a Yamaha Quad at the Charity RV Show Last Month”

Subhead: “This is the first time Bill and Kathy Jones entered a contest and won”

Headline tips:

  • Make the headline impossible to ignore. Keep away from false claims and over sensational words.
  • Create interest so the journalist will want to continue reading the release.
  • Check for spelling errors. This is critical. Don’t just rely on spell check, proof read your headline for accuracy and clarity. Have someone else also proofread.

Body of the release

The opening paragraph should be concise. Use the 5Ws in this section. Keep the first few sentences short and to the point. The next paragraphs should fully explain the purpose of your release. Keep it informative. If you use quotes, they should be from someone prominent or important to the company.

End the release with “For more information, visit https://www.yourwebsite.com, or call Tim Daly at (555) 555-1111.

The boilerplate is a short paragraph that explains the identity of the company and what it does.

When to submit your release

As a general rule, Monday is a very busy media day and Friday reporters are usually finishing up stories. Wednesday and Thursday are typically good days to send your release. Tuesdays are also good. No matter what day you choose, always send releases before 9 am Eastern Time.

SEO Press releases

Yes, even press releases should be optimized. When not sending your release directly to a journalist, but to online news, using keywords and phrases will increase your rankings. Choose specific wording your customers type when they search for your type of product or service. The Internet can help you reach your target customer. In this case, your release becomes a mini webpage. Don’t “stuff” too many key phrases into the release. Stick to the guidelines we discussed, just optimize it. Include a photo(s) or video when possible. This will increase visibility and rankings.

Part 1 of 2 in a series

When it comes to writing a press release for your business, you should understand what it requires for an editor, reporter, or any journalist to even want to read what you send them. Keep in mind a press release is a way to introduce your business/product or service to the media. If there is interest, the release could turn into a story, or be published. Before I get into the heart of powerful press release writing, let me make a few points very clear.

  • There isn’t a “secret” formula to writing a press release. It’s knowing and using the 5 Ws in your releases: What. Who. Where. When. Why.
  • A press release is NOT an advertisement. Keep away from “selling” your product or service. Don’t write a release the same as you would an ad. Your release is going to the media, not potential or existing customers.
  • Releases are NOT articles. Look at articles in your trade and consumer media. These are not press releases, but stories.

No two businesses are the same, and this is also true of press releases. The only formula that applies is having a headline, dateline, opening paragraph, body paragraphs, boilerplate and contact information.

Do’s and Don’ts

The news media has a list of do’s and don’ts when receiving press releases:

Make sure it is newsworthy. Examples are:

  • announcing a new product or service
  • working with a charity
  • making a charitable contribution
  • starting as new division or acquiring another company
  • releasing a study about your industry and how it affects your business
  • sponsoring an event, or having a grand opening
  • taking your company public, or announcing stock offerings
  • rebranding or reorganizing your company
  • hiring a new executive
  • hosting a seminar
  • opening a new office or relocating your headquarters

These are just a few of the types of releases considered by the media to be newsworthy. Read and study other published releases, not all of them are good, but it will help you understand what that specific publication considers to be newsworthy.

  • Limit the use of adjectives and adverbs. Stay away from adjectives such as “exciting”, “fabulous”, or “revolutionary” to mention a few. Using adverbs like “really”, “extremely”, or “very” do not enhance the release, but will get it tossed.
  • Don’t use exclamation marks.
  • When making a statement or an opinion, be sure to support it.

Providing facts or referring to other studies or experts, it will give the release credibility.

  • Write your release to match the audience. If you’re announcing a new product make sure it is sent to media specific to that industry. It’s ok to modify the release to apply to different industries.

In Part 2 we will discuss catchy headlines, the best day of the week to distribute a release, how to make your release SEO ready, and how to rank high using keywords and phrases.

When the economy took a nose-dive a few years ago, it affected your business as well. Some of you may have witnessed the closings of divisions, departments, and cutbacks on your services/products. If you were some of the few to survive this period, today you should be seeing an improvement. Now is the time to do an evaluation of your business. Maybe the earlier cutbacks have actually improved your overall operation. But how do you know if that actually made a positive difference? There are several methods, and formulas available to “do the math.” One in particular is a “short form” available at MSN Money. The site has a simplified calculation you can do. This shouldn’t be your final approach to see how the company stands, but it will give you a chance to begin an evaluation process for your business.

business valuation

business valuation

So the question is: How do you increase the value of your company? Besides increasing sales, which is not an easy task, you should consider doing things that are in your control. One suggestion is to create an awareness campaign about your company. People and other businesses like to work with companies that “appear” to be successful. Keeping your company name in front of your potential and current customers will improve your brand and it could generate more sales.

An awareness campaign can be as simple as a series of press releases. To really get the awareness going, I recommend including a community program. Look for events that are in your area and see how you could be involved. It doesn’t always cost money to become a sponsor, or to participate in a local, or regional event. Maybe your company has a product(s) or services that the event could use in exchange for paying to become a sponsor. Use this opportunity to let the media (press) know about your activity. If you have an in-house publicity person, (or an outside pr firm) be sure they know of the company’s involvement. If the event warrants, hold a press conference and be visible at the event. Don’t just add your logo as part of the signage. Take an active role and get your employees to participate at the event. If your business is in a position to make a donation to a charity, this too is newsworthy. These are a few suggestions to get more visibility.
It is important to not do a one-shot announcement, or press release. Having an on-going campaign is important. This will establish your company as being solid. Reporters will take you more seriously when they see consistent activity.

Before jumping into an awareness campaign, develop a plan. This will be your guide. It can and will probably change as you become more active. That’s fine. Be sure to consult with your publicity staff or pr firm as things develop so that you continue on the path outlined in your overall plan.

So why do we make predictions when we cannot even predict the weather correctly, and we try to do that using very sophisticated equipment?  That being said, as a public relations expert, I will challenge technology using only my brain and tell you what I see happening for 2015.

It's going to be a great year, I think!

It’s going to be a great year, I think!

And in 2015 . . . .

Business and the Economy

Yes, things are looking brighter, but where is the growth coming from next year to continue this bright outlook?  I predict far more “franchise” businesses will be started because it is an easy way to enter the business sector without the old fear beset trial and error methods.

The second area I see growing is on-line businesses. This is the least costly way for entrepreneurs to try their hand at starting a business. I see a 30 to 40% increase in new online businesses.

Overall Economy

People will be spending about the same amount of money next year, but the fact some things are less costly (such as fuel for cars and basic food stuff) people will spend the same amount of money, just in more places.

Software

This industry has been growing steadily for the past four years and will continue. What I see now are new areas of technology on how we will continue to interact using our smart phones and other devices like smart glasses and other wearable items. The “cloud” is opening up new areas on how we store our data and will become a way we can store our conversations so we do not exceed email and texting limits on our devices.

Trust me.  At least 50% of those of my predictions this year will be 50% right. Are there any other pubic relations agencies or other professionals in the public relations industry willing to take this challenge and make their predictions?

Everyday we are challenged to find better methods to increase revenue for our businesses no matter the situation of the economy. If you are an out-of-the-box thinking executive, then you already are on the right path to increased profits.

Social and soft skills

Using your soft skills with social media are powerful tools

So you might ask, what is the secret, or winning formula to be successful in this economy? Actually, there isn’t a secret or magic bullet. What you have today are many excellent marketing tools that did not exist 5 or 6 years ago. Some of these tools are being used by your competitors, and too often they are not savvy enough to fully understand how to utilize them to their advantage. Incorporating these tools into your publicity campaign is a must.

What I am referring to is a combination of soft skills and  social media. No, not just the kind of social media that says by creating a Facebook business page, or writing a company blog you will reach your customers. Also, having a website doesn’t mean that your business will automatically increase sales. Social media goes much deeper. It needs to be incorporated into a company’s corporate culture. It needs to be an active part of your business plan, marketing plan, and your publicity plan. That’s where the soft skills (social skills), when combined with social media, can explode a company into profitability when you understand how to incorporate these powerful tools.

Social media is the general term used today to describe a wide range of different methods to “communicate” to your customers. Whether you are a B2B company, or B2C or both, using the social media tools correctly (just like buying the correct print/broadcast or online media) can change how your business will grow, or fail. Every company likes to think that they are current with social media, because they are either online or have a social presence. Businesses fail mainly because they do not have a long-term commitment when implementing these forms of communication into their

Corporate Culture and Social networking

Social Media Tools

marketing/publicity strategy. A teenager can probably do a better job of communicating to your customers using the vast forms of social media because that is part of their culture. Soft skills are the other half to creating a successful business. Knowing how to listen to your customers, how to write proper business emails and knowing the how to handle customers (this is more than being a sales rep) are just a few of the many soft skills that are lacking at most businesses today.

Smart executives will accept their weaknesses and find the solutions to improve a company’s performance. If you are one of those people, then re-evaluate your business and be objective or you too won’t see nor understand why your company is slipping into the red while your competitors are moving forward, passing you along the way. Need help in getting to that next level, or just want to know how to increase your company’s bottom line? Give George Carson a call. It’s free and do it before your company gets passed by. Call him at 949-477-9400.

Publicity doesn’t just happen. A successful campaign requires planning. From press releases that are strategically scheduled for distribution to specific articles submitted to selected media all are part of how to create a successful publicity campaign that will gain media exposure.

Increase Awareness With Publicity

Before you begin contacting reporters it is important to prepare yourself and the company by knowing the specific elements in the plan. A few of the key publicity campaign elements are:

PRESS KIT. A digital press kit will help provide reporters information about your company, products and the services you offer. Included in this kit should be references to any published articles on your company, bios on key personnel, photos of products and executive staff, online brochures, etc. A Fact Sheet is a quick reference page that provides a summary of your company location, philosophy/mission statement, product listing, and contact person. Keep this kit updated. Create a special area on your website for PRESS ROOM.

PRESS RELEASES and ARTICLES. When writing publicity releases for your pr client, keep the information limited to the facts and do not use sell copy. Put yourself in the reporters position. If you receive a well-written article filled with facts, and benefits for customers, you would be more likely to publish the release. Even more so, you might call the company to get more background and information. Limit your press release to one page if possible.

PR Clients usually to want include everything making the release a 4 or 5 page document. You should also optimize your press release. If you are writing a release or article for a local company, consider the local media and reporters. You can distribute the release nationally, but always work with local reporters so they get to know about your company and products.

MEDIA LIST. Very important and critical to any distribution. Your list should be updated on a regular basis. Have different categories for the types of reporters and media.

OFF-THE-RECORD. Never say this to a reporter and then tell them something you did not want published. There is no such thing as off-the-record.

SOCIAL NETWORKING. If you have not included social media in your list of distribution, then do so. This includes bloggers, online publications, Google News, and so on. Businesses should use their Linkedin and Facebook accounts to let their network of people know what the company has been doing. It is an ideal way to spread the word quickly and get immediate feedback. Even Twitter can have links to your website or published articles.

These are only a few of the many things you should be doing to increase awareness for your company. If you want to know more, just call George Carson at 949-477-9400. The free consultation could help improve your company’s image and make prospects more aware of your company. Visit us at Carson Marketing, Inc.

How difficult can it be to send a press release to the Wall Street Journal, or get your company featured on a national TV news show, like Diane Sawyer? Actually, it is very difficult. Sending the release alone is easy. Getting the reporters to take serious notice of what you sent, that’s difficult. And harder yet, is to make your company be newsworthy in their eyes.

National and Local Publicity

Getting any reporters attention requires relationships. A good public relations agency has developed strong relationships with the media. This doesn’t happen overnight. Unless you have a world changing product, or a unique service, it may be a challenge to just get any media to listen to what you have to say. With all the world politics today, disasters, and 3rd world revolutions, getting your 15 minutes of fame may not be as easy as you expect. PR Clients tend to believe they have the best product, best story, or the best new widget and the world needs to know this. Well, as true as this might be, if the presentation to the media isn’t as exciting, then you just lost that pr opportunity.

Packaging (presenting) your story is critical, as is the timing. Putting fluff into your release or story is not a good idea. Keep the facts real, keep the information short and don’t SELL your story using sales pitch language. Remember, reporters are people. They do not want to be sold to or told that you are the greatest at what you do. Explain why your product or service will help others, or solve a specific problem. That is just one way to get the attention of the media.

If you want to get local publicity, you need to do the same thing as a national publicity story. A good local publicity agency will have a good relationship with the local media, and they will know how to package your story to the selected reporters that best meets your pr marketing strategy.

Learn more about getting national or local publicity from Carson Marketing, Inc. Call for a NO COST consultation meeting to discuss how your company can be in the news. Contact George Carson at 949-477-9400.

Social media has become a staple in the world of communication. The proof is the new battle between Bing, and Google who both recently announced deals withsearch engines bing and google Twitter and Facebook. So how does this affect your web site? A lot, and in a positive way! This shows that SEO and social media are partners in your pr marketing strategies success. Be sure your public relations campaign includes these updates.

Since both SEO’s like content, and a lot of it, then your Twitter and Facebook can become major sources to be recognized by these SEO’s. But remember as I mentioned in my recent posts about Twitter, you need to have good content in those limited words. Don’t make sales pitches, give content.

Use keywords in your tweets and Facebook sites. And important are the links you use in the content. One tip, don’t have your feeds cross back and forth from your tweets and Facebook, turn it off, if the messages are the same on both. This may affect Bing from picking up your feeds if the are the same. Make them each unique, and you are good to go.

This is just another change in the war of search engines struggling to become the choice of consumers. Keeping informed of these types of changes is a full time job. So keep following this blog and we will do our best to help you be current so that your public relations campaign and pr marketing strategy is a success

Is your publicity or ad campaign for your pr client reaching the millennial generation?

If you don’t know who this group is, here is a definition I found on a Florida University site. It reads: “Millennial is the first generation to grow up with computers at home.the millennial generation Sometimes called Generation Y, Millennial generation experienced high pressure to succeed and is the most watched and tolerated generation in history. ”

This group is more sophisticated than previous generations about marketing and internet marketing. To reach them, you need to follow their rules. A typical public relations service campaign is not going to work. PR clients need to learn their rules and only then will corporations be able to get their products into the hands of the “millennials”.

So what are these rules? I saw an article in iMedia Connection by Krisserin Canary who explains the rule. And she should know, being a millennial herself. These are a short summary of her article. Read the entire story to get the full insight.

1- Get their attention. This group since birth has been told they are “special” and “unique”. This created a generation of “needy” and “entitled” humans. That means they are centered on themselves. So to get their attention, you need to make the pr marketing strategy be focused on what is relevant to them.

Non-intrusive interaction. Advertising needs to be interactive, or at best advertise “with” them, not “to” them. Millennials do not like things getting in their way, such as when listening to music, watching a video, or reading a blog or texting.

2- Get them interested. The ad banner, or ad that appears on the internet page must be direct and tells who and what you are. Flashing your logo is not going to work. Explain who and what you are and invite the reader to your site.

3- Take the lead. When they become comfortable with you, take the millennial to places they wouldn’t have gone before and introduce them to your new content. Basically, keep them updated, give them feedback, and speak in their language.

Although all this sounds simple and basic, it has been difficult for pr clients and public relations firms to understand this generation. If you need to hire a company to help you create a publicity campaign or an advertising campaign to reach this generation, contact us. We can make things happen for your company.

Learn how to create an effective email campaign.

Advertising agencies and publicity firms do not understand fully how to help pr clientsemail marketing with their email marketing. That’s because they have not taken the time to learn the new rules of cyber marketing. Anyone can send an email. And yes, I am sure you get a lot of junk mail. It is estimated that business people receive over 300 emails per week (a low average I would guess), and of that, 62% is junk email.

PR Clients should understand that potential customers could open their messages as well as existing customers when the proper use of email marketing is performed. Several topics exist on this subject. And if you Google the term “email marketing”, you will get 415 million results to search through. Instead of struggling through all this, you can start with a company called Elite Marketing. I don’t know this company personally, but know of them. The company’s site offers a lot of great information to point your email campaign in the right direction.

Publicity is everywhere, that’s what I profess all the time. Email is part of publicity. If you are a pr client, or a publicity company creating pr campaigns, be sure to use the proper ways to implement an effective email program.

A few tips for a successful eMail Campaign. These and more tips can be found in the Elite Email site.

1- The Subject Line. This is most poorly worded section. Yet, it is the most important because the “subject’ is how people decide if the email has any value to them.

2-Keep it short. Long explanations in the subject are not good. Keep the description short. And to the point.

3- Overly Exaggerated Subjects Doesn’t Fool Anyone. For example, don’t make claims that people know are false, such as “we can make your dreams come true”. Be honest and direct. Your email will have a better chance of being read.

4- Have a call to action. Be sure to give a reason for the reader to contact your company. Sometimes it can be through a “coupon” campaign, or a special offer at the end of the message.

There are dozens of tips you can find on the site mentioned and as well as other sites. So take the time to make sure your subject and the message are well written. Have a pr professional or copywriter help construct the message. Email is part of a pr marketing strategy. Use it wisely and your pr clients will results.

If you need additional help with your pr marketing, we offer FREE advice. Contact George Carson, or visit our web site, Carson Marketing Inc.