It's all about the STORY!

Posts tagged ‘press’

Daphne’s List of 7: Telling your company’s story

I have just spent hours researching the history of several Bay area nonprofits–learning about their stories. Specifically, their history.

Here are 7 tips on storytelling that would be helpful for all businesses, particularly nonprofits. These are 7 important points, what I have learned along the way as a professional writer for nonprofits and as a member of the media as I am currently…

  1. Make your audience “feel” your story. DO NOT give us facts and figures. We truly don’t care–we glaze over them, mostly. Tell us about the tears. Tell us about the victories. Tell us about the struggle. Tell us how your organization CHANGED things. Give me something to feel, to care about, to go out and tell my friends and family about. Here in Pinellas County PARC does a GREAT job of telling their story HERE.
  2. Get your FACTS straight and make sure your information is up-to-date. I will not mention the site, but it is one I know all too well–they have the date the company was founded, which is good, but then they also include how long the company has been operating. Not only is this information redundant, but the number of year operating is an evolving number that needs to be changed each year. If you insist on including it, you’d better be committed to updating it every single year. As it stands, you’ve been dormant for about 5 years. Okay, that’s just an example, but in a historical statement, STAY AWAY from figures that change. Also, if you include a blurb about where you are today, which is good–update that at least annually. Do it the same time you do your annual report–that’s a good reminder that all your company’s content should be reviewed, including your website
  3. Make sure your website looks good. Honestly, this is not an expensive or difficult thing to do. If you have a website, and you certainly should, make sure it’s attractive. Certainly, if it’s easy to navigate, lots of content, etc.–even better. But, first, make it visually pleasing. If your web page is hard to look at, no one will want to bother, and it reflects poorly on your company’s image.
  4. Less is more when it comes to text. WOW! So much verbose copy, laden with industry jargon–I’ve been working in the helping fields for over 20 friggin years, and if I wonder what you mean by what you’re trying to say, and I’m getting tired of reading wordy copy, I can’t begin to imagine what the public at large thinks when they see it. Tighten it up, and keep it simple. If that’s too hard for you pros in the field to do, get some clients and community members together to focus group your marketing copy for you. If you don’t believe me, listen to what they have to say…
  5. Include a link for media on your website. Please, think of us and throw us a little bone. Include your press releases there as a link. Include contact info. and brief bios of subject experts that we can contact for quotes and insight into issues–we are always looking for expert opinions. Make it easy for us to find. Give us your logo and other graphics that we have total permission to use as stock art for articles. And, tell us who your media contact is so that we can contact them directly. When a story is breaking, and we want to use your organization as an expert, we don’t have time to wait around or hunt to find “maybe” the right person. Get us linked to them straight away, and we’ll get you into print faster and more often as the experts in the field that you are.
  6. Be responsive to media. We matter. In a time when funding is tighter than ever, getting and keeping your company’s name in the community dialogue is critical when you are cultivating donors. If a development director has to spend too much time explaining to a potential donor what the organization is and why they care about it, it’s probably already too late to bother. Keeping your name in the media as noted experts in what you do is key to raising the value of your organization in the mind of your public. There’s no short cut. There are many creative ways to do this, and traditional media isn’t the only one… but it’s important to do in some fashion.
  7. Reach out to media. Don’t just send us a press release. Trust me, we often don’t “get” why your story is important. Talk to us. Get to know us. Take us to lunch (we really like that!). But, develop a relationship with us. And this is critical–don’t bother telling us why your story is important to you. Tell me why I, the media professional cares, and why it’s cool, interesting or important to the public. THAT’s the story. Don’t count on the fact that the media professional will be able to see why your story matters. Spoon feed THAT to them, because why your story matters IS the story.
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Daphne’s List of 7: The Art of the Press Release

Here is a list of 7 tips to get the most out of press releases:

  1. Why: Determine why you are distributing a press release. What are you  hoping to achieve? Are you a public company alerting your investors and potential investors about activities that will raise the value of your company? Are you reminding your community that your company provides critical products and/or services that will address their problems and meet their needs? Are you rallying support for an issue or cause, solicit community awareness, support and/or involvement? Are you trying to get the public to come to an event–something that will make them happy or give them pleasure/enjoyment? Are you alerting the community of a problem–do you have a legal obligation to report or address a crisis, or do you need to address this problem to help you get ahead of a crisis management situation? Know WHY, then make certain the why is obvious in the press release.
  2. Content: Include facts (who, what, when, where, why + who cares?), and be sure to tell a story. Draw your reader into the experience, and engage them. Give them what they want. Make certain it serves THEIR needs more than yours and your company’s. Remember that news is usually something that someone else doesn’t want you to know. All else is advertising. There’s nothing wrong with advertising, at all, but know it when you’re selling it. If it’s actually news, it’s more likely to be carried to wider readerships. Add links and hyperlinks so that recipients can fact check easily and have easy access to details if they need more content.
  3. Trends: Look for opportunities to address trending topics already getting media coverage. If you can ties your press release into a hot topic of interest, that tie-in can serve as a follow-up article or special interest piece that will probably trigger buzz or keep a buzz going more than a lone wolf story would. Know what’s trending and/or how to spin your story to address trending topics.
  4. Style: There are different styles that speak best to different types of press releases. Formulas for public companies alerting investors and potential investors are available on the web. As for publicity, writing in AP inverse pyramid style. Create a brief article, which will save print media from needing to do much editing if they are short-staffed and short on content. This will increase your chances of getting your press release published. At all times, proofread, edit, pay attention to legal parameters such as never making a claim about a product or services, etc. It’s an excellent idea to have more than one set of eyeballs on the copy prior to distributing. Editing often makes stronger copy. Keep your release to one page. Brevity is blessed.
  5. Timing: Timing is critical. Immediacy is most often the best practice for press releases. This means, it’s a good idea to keep CEO quotes at the ready for press releases. As soon as you see a relevant topic is about to trend or a relevant story is about to break, gather the CEO quote, then respond while the topic is hot. Streamline your review process so that everyone responds with urgency. A late submission narrows your chances of coverage. If you are a public company, a late submission greatly diminishes the effectiveness in influencing investors and potential investors.
  6. Distribution: Best to have a subscription to a distribution service or go through a pro that has access to a distribution service. This is the only way to go for a public company. For publicity purposes, it’s best to have personal relationships with key media personnel (e.g. columnist, journalists, editors, producers, etc.) to help ensure your press release gets noticed. If you don’t have these relationships built yet, remember that flattery will get you everywhere. Know what articles or news pieces these journalists have covered recently. Compliment them, specifically citing why their piece was compelling to you, and then pitch the story you have that might be of interest to them. It can be a slow process. Good relationships usually take time to build, and they are based wholly on trust and accountability, being mutually beneficial.
  7. Follow-up: Pick up a phone. After you have submitted (outside of a distribution service), pick up a telephone and call your news sources. Do not assume that they received, read or understood your release. Call them, and let them know you sent it. Have a 2-3 minutes synopsis ready to pitch, and request that they cover it. Try to get a commitment. There are some mild soft-sales skills that would be helpful here. If they flatly are not interested, ask if they are working on any similar stories where your company could serve as a source or if they might be interested at another time. Also ask if they know other news pros that might be interested in the story. Try to get a commitment first. If that doesn’t work out, try to get a lead. No matter what, make sure to work on building and maintaining that relationship. Be willing to provide leads to the media pro even if the lead may not benefit your company right then. Personally link them to that lead. The media pro will remember the favor and your generosity. Most likely, the favor will be returned.

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