Internet Marketing & Public Relations for the Arts

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Press Releases: Thinking like a Reporter

 

Lets understand the basic rules about most reporters, bloggers, and basically anyone in the media:

• The Media could care less about helping you.
• The Media are hassled all day by PR people and they're pretty much sick of it.
• The Media does not care about your website, your show, your exhibits, etc...

However, all press responds to a story that INCREASES VIEWERSHIP.

That's the bottom line.  You need to frame your story so that it appeals to the widest range of readers, or is targeted to a focused readership.

Lets face it, 99.9% of the public could care less that Cincinnati Shakespeare is doing Twelfth Night, or that the ballet is doing the Nutcracker at Christmas.  Sure you might get a photo in the Best Bets section, or mention in Things to do this Weekend, but honestly, if you are trying to create buzz, you need to work at it.

Press Release Tips

1. Make the information newsworthy
• Trying writing a letter to a friend explaining why they should see this exhibit--it will help you make the story newsworthy.
• Drama is a good thing--conflict is better.
• Nothing says you have to pitch the production--you could pitch the social issues that that production addresses.  

2. Grab them for the beginning
• Your headline and first 10 words are the most important part in the Press Release.
• If you can grab a reporters attention, then they know you can grab their audiences attention.

3. Start with a brief description of the news, then distinguish who announced it, and not the other way around. 

Ok
The Cincinnati Playhouse Announces 57th Season
The Cincinnati Playhouse, winner of the 2005 Regional Tony Award, announced that their 6th season would open October 6th with Bram Stokers' Dracula.

Better
Vampires to Visit Cincinnati
Dracula, Bram Stokers chilling tale of evil, opens the new season at the Cincinnati Playhouse.

4. Ask yourself, "How are people going to relate to this and will they be able to connect?"
• Write your Releases for a specific group in mind.
• If you don't find it interesting, neither will anyone else.

5. Avoid subjective phrasing, excessive use of adjectives, and fancy language.
• It is not the "best", the "greatest", the "most amazing"
• Put down the thesaurus, you want your releases at an 8th grade reading level.

6. Deal with the facts.
• Decide what is important in your release, and make sure that is listed up front. 
• Write clear, concise copy.
• Keep it short.

7. There are no rules--only tips.
• You will hear a bunch of rules about releases; they should be on pink paper, they should only be one page, they should never include quotes, they should include quotes--ignore them all.
• Create the release that best generates interest in your story.

8. Provide as much Contact information as possible
• Individual to Contact
• Address
• Cell Phone
• Email
• Web site address.

9. Make sure you wait until you have something with enough substance to issue a release.
• Be honest with yourself and your audience.
• Pick your medium with care--some stories are best just for your site, others for trade journals, only few should be pitched to the media.

10. Make it as easy as possible for media representatives to do their jobs.
• Give them all the information they need, whenever they need it.
• Provide web links for fact sheets, photos, biographies available for interviews.
• Be courteous, make them want to work with you and your organization.
• Offer complimentary tickets.