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Press Releases 101

Press Releases 101 was originally published on Getting Smart.

In the age of the 24/7 news cycle, many wonder the pros and cons of the press release. What is the point of creating a full release if I can just send a tweet to my beat reporter or favorite blogger? There are MANY more pros than cons. Press releases are a crucial component to any public relations strategy. Here are 10 tricks to the trade that get your release more attention:

  1. Your headline is your hook. Think what headlines catch your eye in the newspaper or on a tweet. Your headline should be descriptive, but limited to 100 – 170 characters. There headline should be formatted in title case, which means, capitalize each word except for prepositions and articles that are three characters, or less.TIP: The text underneath the headline is called the subtitle. The subtitle is just that – additional title information that explains the news value of your press release. it is not necessary to include a subtitle.
  1. Put all your eggs in the first basket. If the descriptive and noteworthy headline passes the first step and your release is opened, a quick read of the first paragraph needs to give the 5 W’s and 1 H in 3-5 sentences. TIP: Watch out for run-on and fragmented sentences.
  2. Easy come, easy go. Give every possible opportunity to access the release and share it. ALWAYS include a link to the digital version of your press release. Even better, embed a sample tweet to immediately share. TIP: Watch the character count and allow space to retweet.
  3. Remember grammar school. Proofread., proofread again, and have someone else proofread your release before sending out. There is nothing more distracting from good content than a grammatical error. TIP: Write your press release in AP Style. It is a journalists bread and butter.
  4. Make it flashy. Including multimedia in your press release is almost a requirement in the fast 24/7 news cycle. Humans engage with images faster than text. Consider that a minute of video is worth 1.8 millions words. (Omnivideo, 2009) TIP: Look for images, videos, and other visual data your company already has instead of creating new each time.
  5. Leave the creative writing to the pros. Reporters and bloggers spend their life making subjects engaging. Leave the superlatives to the journalist. Your release should provide key, hard facts and data to support your overall message. TIP: Want to support the creative aspect of your story? Write a blog post.
  6. Quotes provide color. Use a good quote from a high level organizational contact, product user, or someone close to the product to provide the human interest angle to the release. TIP: Even better, provide contact information to the person quotes to allow the journalist to contact them directly for “color commentary.”
  7. Provide your contact information. Seems like a simple task, but so many releases are sent without letting the journalist know who to contact for “more information.” Include your name, phone number, email, and, in some cases, Twitter handle in your release. TIP: Create a press release template with a placeholder for contact information to ensure you never forget.
  8. No one likes spam. You spend all the time writing content, developing and linking multimedia, gather people to quote and interview and when you go to send, you bulk email. You don’t like spam, neither do journalists and editors. Spend the time to create targeted lists to send your releases to, make contact with them, and create a relationship. Not only will this help ensure your release isn’t immediately moved to the JUNK folder, if you have a relationship, it has a higher likelihood of being covered.
  9. More information. A boilerplate is generally one-paragraph company profile placed at the end of the release showcasing who your company is and what they do. This is a great opportunity to make a positive impression of your company. Make it count. TIP: Create a consistent message about your company by using your boilerplate as your social media profile description, website “About Us” beginning paragraph, and elevator speech.
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To Tweet or Not to Tweet: There Really Is No Question

To Tweet or Not To Tweet: There Really Is No Question was originally published on Getting Smart.

Ask not what you can do for Twitter, but what Twitter can do for you. Many people question the benefits of participating in Twitter. There are incredible benefits, if you use it right. Twitter can motivate, question, and engage your thoughts, beliefs, and methods. Twitter is a great tool to learn and share what you are doing and amplify your impact. We can share what we have for lunch or what movie we saw, but at its best, Twitter is a tool for educating the world on complex topics in just 140 characters. So, how do we leverage this tool in the best way? Here are 10 tips on how to make your Twitter presence relevant, intriguing, and expansive.

  1. First impressions are important. Your Twitter handle and profile are typically the first thing people see when looking at you on Twitter. Your profile may make or break if they follow you. Make it count.

  2. Tweet more than you think. On average 500 million tweets are sent each day. You are competing with those messages. Tweet 6 – 10 times a day and make it special.

  3. Your Tweet is your headline. You have 140 characters to grab someone’s attention. Aim to educate, entertain, and inspire, not just inform.

  4. If you like it put a hashtag on it. Using hashtags immediately makes your tweet searchable. Research the right hashtag to reach the right audience.

  5. If you follow them, they will come. What is the best way to increase your followers? Follow more people, but make sure they are the right people.

  6. Get your words out there. You work hard on great blog content, you should share it, often. Tools designed to auto-share your blog are a great option. Don’t forget to include the handles of those you reference in your tweet. It’ll likely get retweeted, which means? Greater reach!

  7. Timing isn’t always everything. Don’t have time to tweet 6 – 10 times per day? Use a scheduling program. These tools help you get your well crafted messages out around the clock. Take advantage. Fair warning, it won’t replace the instant tweet about breaking news or a great retweet.

  8. Share “evergreen” content. Not all your tweets have to be about what happened that day, or week, or month. Evergreen content is a video, article, or blog that is designed to be relevant for weeks, months, and years. Don’t be afraid to share this information. It is never a bad idea to re-share good, relevant information.

  9. A retweet can go a long way. Why retweet? It is a great way to get the attention of important people in the space. Show them you appreciate what they have to say, and they will likely follow you back.

  10. Videos, podcasts, and photos. Oh My! Twitter has provided this amazing opportunity to view multimedia in your feed. Show your stuff! Insert relevant videos, photos, podcasts, and infographics to your tweet. It WILL grab follower’s attention.

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Who is PRGal?

I have thought about starting a blog for years. I never pulled the plug because I didn’t really think I had anything interesting to say. So why now? I think I am finally interesting. I have lived a strange life, worked at interesting (and not so interesting) places, and have a VERY interesting family. Instead of just sharing my stories with a close knit group of friends, why not share it with the world.

So, here I am! Love me, hate me, have a mixture of both. This is my life.

Who is PR Gal?

Name: Jennifer Leigh Aalgaard
Birth date: January 18, 1982
Family: Only child. Parents are still married
Childhood: Grew up in Richland, WA next to a nuclear reactor (home of the Manhattan Project), wineries (hundreds, seriously hundreds), and the beautiful Columbia River.
College: Eastern Washington University. B.S. in Communications with Public Relations emphasis; Double minors in Journalism & Counseling; Internships at KXLY,Valleyfest, and Northwest Events (now defunct).
Career: Planned Parenthood of Central Washington (nowPP of Greater Northwest and North Idaho), MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital, Mid-Columbia LibrariesGetting Smart, TrueBlue and Amazon.
Organizations: Public Relations Society of America, Junior League Tacoma, Association of the United States Army
Personal life: Single, but not single. My first child is on the way and I have a cat (who has been called the devil).
Loves: Football, food, action movies (think Avengers, The Bourne Trilogy)
Hopes & Dreams: To be a mom, really good at my job, and content… Of course being independently wealthy wouldn’t be that bad either.