Media Relations Primer

5 Techniques to Jump-Start Your Organization’s Public Relations Efforts

Positive, free and consistent publicity is essential to any organization’s public relations and marketing success. Being written about by popular, respected news outlets can be worth far more than a paid advertisement. There are several media relations techniques that can attract valuable press coverage and boost your organization’s credibility and public image.

Utilizing these techniques is integral to the success of any public relations and marketing campaign. This article will show you how to gain earned media by utilizing these top five basic media relations techniques: press releases, media availabilities, media advisories, photo captions and calendar releases.

1. Press Release — Press releases are used to communicate general news items and sent to the media using television, radio, print and Internet outlets. Press releases must look professional and have news value. Media outlets will pay no attention to a press release that is really an advertisement disguised as a news story. Instead of mere self-promotion, a press release should seek to provide insight to an issue that the public or a more specific target group is interested in. It should be a new thought or a new angle on an already publicized story. Press releases can also be used to publicize grand openings, charitable participation, fundraisers and events. It is crucial to emphasize the news value of your press release in the headline and then follow through in the body. Creating an eye-catching headline will grab your reader’s attention and entice them to continue reading through your release. At the conclusion of your press release, include a few boilerplate sentences about your company and all necessary contact information.

2. Media Availability — Media availabilities are used to announce the availability of your organization and its staff to publicly comment on an item in the news. To make stronger connections, it is important for members of your organization to network with the local media, journalists and public relations and communications professionals in your area. With a strong local presence and consistent commenting, the media will begin to recognize you as a reliable source and expert in your industry. As news breaks, it is important to have your availability ready to go. Often, the news can be anticipated, especially when it involves government reports.

3. Media Advisory — Media advisories are used to announce upcoming events and provide invitations to the media to encourage them to attend and cover these events. It is crucial to keep in mind that media advisories are written for members of the media, not for your organization’s clients or customers. When writing media advisories, include the following headings: Who, What, Where, When, Why and Photo Ops. It is crucial to include a headline that attracts media interest and expand upon the title in the “What” section of your advisory. A common use of an advisory is to announce a press conference. Press conferences are presentations of information and a question-and-answer period with the media, set up by your organization.

4. Photo Captions — Photos can help to tell your story and convey your organization’s message in a way that words cannot. Multimedia is a valuable tool in connecting with your audience since many people can better relate to visual elements rather than straight text. At all of your organization’s events, conventional and digital photos should be taken and sent via standard mail and email to print and Internet publications. High-quality photographs with a well-written, informative caption will enhance your story and strengthen your message. You should take photos at a location that resonates with the news item. For example, if you are announcing a grand opening for your business, take a photo of the ribbon cutting.

5. Calendar Releases — It is important to submit your upcoming events to as many event calendars as possible to get the word out to the public. Event calendars ensure that your audience is aware of important upcoming, newsworthy events. Unlike in a press release, you should only include basic information in your event listing. When submitting your event, target the event calendars of newspapers, magazines, television and radio stations.

To increase your effectiveness, post your releases online, including to free press release outlets. You may also want to follow up with personalized emails and phone calls to make sure that your press release has been received and to let the reporter or assignment editor know why it is important.