As a busy mum of two, the owner of a PR agency (and a spectacular wife of course!) it’s no surprise that I’m usually rushed off my feet and barely get time to collect my thoughts, let alone write them down!  But when Sam from Mums the Boss invited me to write a guest blog it got me thinking – how can I give some useful, thought-provoking advice to all you wonderful working mums out there?  Well, I’m not a miracle-worker but when it comes to PR I do know my stuff and as a result, businesses often ask me how they can get their news releases noticed by journalists.

The clue is in that last sentence ‘news’.  With the exception of a few, the sad fact is many of the news stories put out by businesses are not really news stories at all.  A few gushing paragraphs about the latest award your business has won, or that you’ve moved to a new swanky office is not really going to float the ‘media boat’.  News by its very definition needs to be ‘new’ and ‘newsworthy’.  If it isn’t, why would anyone want to read it?

There are many aspects that make a good story (probably too many to mention here) but if you’re thinking of indulging in a spot of PR here are a few pearls of wisdom to help get your press release noticed amongst the crowd:

Is it news? Before you put pen to paper, think about what you are planning to say.  Is it really that interesting and honestly, will people care?  Be hard on yourself by sitting on the other side of the fence and giving it the ‘so what?’ glance.  If you’re still convinced it’s newsworthy, maybe it is!

Creating an angle: Think about what sells news; controversy, topicality and human-interest. Then link these elements to your own business by looking at the problems your service or product solves. Highlight that problem and make a bit of a drama out of it (that’s the news hook).  Add into the mix some topical interest and make it resonate with real people – and you’re onto a winner.

Photos: Never underestimate the power of a good image.  Great visuals have become even more important to the media since the explosion of social media platforms such as Twitter where news leaks instantly, mainstream media now has a new role to play rather than being the ‘first’ to hit the headlines; a good photo can be the ‘make or break’ of achieving press coverage.  Plus, there is nothing like a great picture to breathe life into a story.

Video: Don’t be afraid of using video content within your news release.  Research shows that you are three times more likely to secure coverage if you do include a video.  Despite this, as little as three per cent of press releases include moving content – food for thought indeed.

Tidying up: Avoid clever headlines and stick to the facts (the journalist wants to understand plain and simply what the news is about without having to decipher confusing and misleading captions. Be clear and concise with your words; ensure you include the main crux of the story in the first paragraph where possible.  Forget jargon such as ‘leading-edge’, ‘leveraging’, ‘market leading’ and lengthy quotes that start with “we are delighted to…” these are big turn-offs for the media, they’ve seen a hundred like them and they don’t really say all that much about your business.

Don’t ask the fatal question! Never phone a journalist to ask if they’ve received your press release.  It doesn’t bode well.  If you’re going to follow-up there are other, more intelligent ways which will help you to build relationships with the media rather than alienate them!   Seek professional PR advice to ensure you cultivate a positive, lasting impression with the media.

Guest post written by Natalie Sanderson – Managing Director, Sublime Public Relations – www.sublimepr.co.uk