Today in Strategic Communications we started to explore the relationship that a small business tries to develop with the local media via the “media kit”.
Advertising costs money–a lot of money. In addition, sometimes the very act of advertising can turn off your target audience. For instance, if you are selling locally produced, eco-friendly, save the whales beer, your audience is probably younger très cool “hipsters”; this audience may consider traditional advertising through print or TV–and therefore any product advertised through those media–as uncool.
However, if you can get the local media to mention your business in a story and it attracts the attention of the same hipster, it’s possible that the hipster will believe that he or she “discovered” you. Your product will be free of the taint of crass advertising. In addition to producing another consumer of your product, this can possibly also generate “buzz” about your company as the hipsters tells a bunch of friends about this new “discovery”. And best of all, the publicity generated by a media kit is free. All you did is supply the media with the information.
So today we explored the heart and soul of the media kit: the “media release”, known in the last century as a press release. Although the name has changed, the principle remains the same: you have a new event or product, and you are trying alert the local media in the hopes that someone will run a story about it.
Journalists, with their next deadline perpetually just around the corner, are always on the lookout for a story idea that will quickly write itself. In a perfect world, a responsible journalist will use the contacts you provide to double-check the details of the story, and then rewrite the article completely. Thankfully we do not live in a perfect world, and you can hope that your overworked and underpaid journalist will simply read your media release, decide to create a story about your event or product, and then copy and paste vast tracts of your carefully crafted words into the article. (Well, you can dream, right?)
We reviewed some simple rules about writing media releases, then split up into groups to examine some actual examples. Considering that some of these were produced by fairly major companies–or even professional PR firms–several of the media releases we examined were poor examples of the craft: poorly written, vague, lacking essential information.
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