Profit by Publicity: The Importance of Being a Story Teller
Every news organization or Web that you’d like to have do a story about you or your real estate company has an important thing in common: each is a story teller which seeks to find and report stories that will be of interest to their audiences. That’s why one of the most important keys to your success in generating publicity is your ability to tell your story. You must, in effect, be a good story teller.
Can you tell the stories about your real estate services, expertise, activities or accomplishments in such a way that they attract the interest of news organizations? If you can, then you will likely be able to convince them to tell your story to your target audience.
The news release can be an effective tool for story tellers. You can use these one-page documents to tell the media and the world who you are, what you are doing, why you are doing it, when you are doing it and how you are doing it.
Your news release should:
· Answer two important questions: who cares about your announcement, and why should they care?
· Include the who, what, when, where, why and how of your story (whether it’s an announcement about the hiring of new agents, the opening of a new office or an important award or recognition your company has received).
Corporate America spends a lot of time, money and effort on preparing and distributing news releases. By some estimates, the tab exceeds $1 billion every year. Unfortunately, most of that money appears to be wasted. Surveys show that as much as 99% of the materials received by reporters are trashed because the releases are irrelevant to their needs, void of any real news or poorly written.
The Recipe for Effective News Releases
The best news releases become self-fulfilling prophecies: the more they read like real news stories and are sent to reporters who will be interested in receiving them, the more likely it is that they will become news stories.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all, fill-in-the-blanks news release. Rather, you should think of your news release as a custom-made dress or suit which must be carefully tailored to tell your own story in the most effective and attention-getting way possible. You can customize your news release in the following ways:
1. Include your name, daytime and evening phone numbers and e-mail and Web site addresses at the top of the first page in case reporters have questions about the release or want to interview you.
2. If appropriate, place your announcement in the context of relevant trends or developments.
3. Organize the information in the release as if it were a pyramid, with the most critical information at the top and the least important at the bottom.
4. Summarize the announcement with an attention-getting headline
5. Write a succinct opening paragraph that summarizes your story or announcement.
6. Explain the impact your story or announcement will have on audiences of the news organizations that receive the release.
7. If appropriate, include a call for action.
8. Include appropriate facts, figures and background information.
9. If appropriate, include a picture that illustrates the announcement, accompanied by a descriptive caption (also called a cut line).
10. To signify the end of the release, insert #### or – 30 – centered at the end of the page.
Ensure Your Success
While it’s impossible to predict how many stories your news release generates, there are several steps you can take to ensure that your efforts are successful:
· In addition to writing your releases as if they were newspaper stories, be sure to abide by the same rules for grammar and punctuation that reporters follow when they write their articles. Or refer to The Associated Press Stylebook which can be found at most libraries and book stores.
· Send the news release to news organizations that will be most interested in receiving it. If you have any doubts, call editors, reporters and columnists in advance and ask them if they are interested in the subject of the release.
· Make sure the list of reporters receiving the release is current and accurate.
· If possible, send the news release to reporters on traditionally slow news days, such as Mondays or Saturdays, and send it earlier in the day rather than later.
· Return calls from the media as soon as possible.
· Be prepared to answer any questions reporters may have about the information in the release.
This article was excerpted from Edward Segal’s Profit by Publicity, a how-to reference book on public relations for real estate agents and brokers. The book is part of the Profit by Publicity series of live and online classes, audiobook and how-to-reference guide. Segal was the marketing strategies columnist for The Wall Street Journal’s StartUpJournal.com, a PR consultant to more than 500 clients and press secretary to members of Congress. He is now CEO of the Marin County Association of REALTORS® in San Rafael, Calif. Visit his Web site at www.ProfitbyPublicity.com
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