What is news? What is news worthy?
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Many opportunities exist to publicize your products. First you need to know what the press wants. Here is a brief description of topic categories, the kinds of information that qualify as news and the best tactics to get the media to report on your news.
When you have news, call the news editor. At large publications, different news editors and reporters are assigned to different topics. The nature of your business and the news you’re offering will determine the editor you should be speaking to. You may have to go through several people to find out who should receive your news. As you study a publication, or make inquiries to the news editor, you’ll learn who covers each topic.
News: As its name implies, this is the basic news story announcing a new service, new product, or an upgrade to an existing product. News can also be surveys, trends, reactions to major breaking stories, company or industry sales figures and growth projections, mergers and acquisitions, patents, law suits, company earnings figures, initial public offerings, massive hiring, firing, lay-offs and the like.
When your products or personnel win awards, that’s news, and you’ll want to tell the world about it. You can’t assume that the entire mass of humanity has seen the publication that originally announced the award or remembered your specific mention from the dozens of awards listed.
Write a one-page press release that announces the award, includes a glowing testimonial from the publication or association, and describes your product’s specific merits or your personnel’s outstanding achievements. (See Chapter 2 for an Award Press Release Model and Template.) Contact the news editor or business editor with information on awards. Send the release to other reporters in the hopes they will review the product or interview the person. Also, send copies of the release to dealers, resellers, VARs, consultants, VIPs, influencers, stockholders, financial backers, and anyone else who can help you.
Important contracts of companies and agencies can be covered as news articles. Less significant contracts can get one-paragraph notices. Contact the news editor with information on contracts awarded.
News and photographs related to important personnel changes at recognized companies can be news in some publications. Editors either love personnel announcements, or they hate them – there is no middle ground. Check with the publication before sending the personnel press release (see Chapter 2 for more information and an example). Local newspapers, business journals and trade publications may print photographs as well, so provide one with the press release. Contact the news editor with information on personnel appointments.
Case histories can be good feature articles for publications. A case history tells the story of how a customer used your product or service and benefited from it. To place a case history, call the news editor, business editor, or feature editor and explain the concept. Gain their interest, then offer to send an outline of the story. Provide the outline, then call the editor again to get the assignment confirmed. Clarify the story length, type of art or photograph(s) needed, deadlines for story and art, and writing style. Write the article and have the person interviewed (subject of the case study) sign a release. (See Chapter 3, “Case Histories (Success Stories)” for more information.) Send the article to the editor, and follow up with a phone call to ensure the editor has everything they need.
Usually, you must promise exclusivity to the publication in its topic area. Editors dislike seeing the same story in their competitors’ publications. You can, however, pitch the story to another publication in a different industry.
This category includes articles and reviews of books, periodicals, reports, surveys, studies and similar types of materials. Contact the news or feature editor.
This category is normally reserved for book reviews written by staff members or freelance writers. Contact the news or feature editor.
These are opinion pieces by the president, chief engineer or marketer of your company. Topics usually include current trends, forecasts, or comments on top news items such as the threat of competition from a foreign market. Signed articles cannot be self-serving; in other words, the article can’t discuss how your company has designed the best mousetrap. Contact the news or editorial page editor.
Letters to the Editor
These signed letters are great ways to state your opinions. You can either add information to an industry trend story, correct information, or raise an important point your industry should discuss. Contact the editorial page editor.
These are notices of upcoming events such as trade shows, conferences, expositions, seminars/workshops and other similar events in which your company is participating. Usually, a paragraph is printed with the time, date, place, market and phone number for information. Major trade shows can be covered in greater depth. Contact the calendar editor or news editor to understand the publication’s policies, such as timing and deadlines, as well as to ensure the press release is received.