Why Journalists Change Your Press Release

At a referral seminar, I heard about an interesting business concept, where you could hire a handyman for a day. I emailed the owner afterwards, asking had he ever considered sending a press release to the media, as journalists are always keen for stories of innovative businesses. He said he had been approached to be included in a feature article for a national broadsheet, but turned it down because he felt his business would not be portrayed in the way he originally intended. As a result, he lost out on an opportunity to gain free nationwide publicity.

It can be disconcerting to see your press releases drastically changed, or used in what seems like a completely different story. It’s a little like looking at yourself in a photograph or listening to your own voice. ‘I don’t look like that,’ you think.  Or ‘I don’t sound like that.’ The important thing to remember is that this is no reflection on your press release. Journalists are just doing their job.

Freedom of Speech

In order for journalists to create compelling stories, they need to have the freedom to write or broadcast the story as they see fit. You’re sending in the press release because you want to promote your business. Journalists may see your press release as the basis for a bigger story. For example, they could decide to use the handyman business as part of a DIY tips article, or an article about how old trades are being revived. Also, they are compromised on word count and decide to use only the first two paragraphs of the press release, or your accompanying image. That’s where the conflict of interest can arise.

Your concern about how you and your business are portrayed in the media is understandable. After all, your business is your baby and you’ve put your heart and soul into it to ensure its success. But unless there are inaccuracies in a journalists’ coverage, the fact that your press release has been changed won’t damage how your business is seen. After all, the public doesn’t know the press release has been changed. And it’s not in a journalist’s best interest to be inaccurate anyway. They’ll suffer the consequences of a damaged reputation, loss of work, or at the very least, a slap on the wrist.

All Publicity is Good

In fact, any mention in the media is a subtle but powerful form of publicity. People will see you as being part of an interesting story and will talk to their friends about a fascinating item they came across on the radio or in the paper. For example, I sent a text about one of my clients’ products into a national radio show. The text was read out and discussed. She got extra hits to her website and an order. And think about it. Would you really want a journalist just to regurgitate your words? Wouldn’t you prefer for journalists to show an interest in your ideas, to take the time to find out more about you and your business?

And there’s more good news. You can take steps to maintain control over your story.

  • Know Your Angle. I’ve touched on this before. If you’ve put thought into what’s newsworthy about your business, your press release is more likely to remain intact, particularly if journalists are on a tight deadline.
  • Cut to the Chase. Journalists mostly read the first two paragraphs of a press release. If you have a very specific story to tell, create a newsbrief, a very short press release which gets to the kernal of the story.
  • Create a Profile Piece. Send in a general press release that introduces the journalist to you and your business. You’re giving the journalist freedom to mould your business into a newsworthy story.l

Throughout my journalism career, I have found that the best interviewees were the ones who weren’t too self conscious about how they came across. They treated the interview as a conversation and were happy to fit in with the format of the article or radio feature I was compiling. If you’re going to send a press release into a media outlet, you need to be willing to relinquish a little control. You may be pleasantly surprised by the results. The less you worry about how you come across, the easier it will be to do yourself and your business justice.

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The LinkedIn Reading List: Connecting Bookworms

What does your LinkedIn reading list say about you? That question prompted lively discussion among members of the Writing Mafia Group on LinkedIn. The general feeling was that books were a statement of personality and that people looked to a connection’s reading list as a yardstick for the value of a connection.

However, a surprising number of posters were unaware of the existence of the LinkedIn reading list. Which is a shame, because it’s an invaluable way of boosting your profile on LinkedIn. Quite simply, the reading list is an app that lets you tell your contacts what you’re reading at the moment, what you have read, or what you plan to read.

Accessing the Reading List

  • It’s easy to use. Just go to the More tab, which is the last tab on the menu bar at the top of the page.
  • When you click on the word ‘more’, you will see Reading List by Amazon. Click on it, then search for the title of a book you want to select.
  • Amazon generates a list of titles with book covers above them. Pick the one that matches your choice.
  • The book you choose will appear on your profile and your contacts will see a message telling them what you are reading at present.

What Books to Pick

Because LinkedIn is a formal business-oriented site, many people choose titles that relate to their business and professional lives. Inspirational business books, books on business best practise and books related to their field of business. However, people may also pick books that have inspired them throughout their lives, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. You can choose a book you have read, a current choice or one you plan to read.

Using the Reading List to Network

When you’ve chosen your book, LinkedIn will invite you to add a comment telling people why you’ve chosen to read this book and if you’ve finished it, what you’ve thought of it. You are also asked if you would recommend it to others. When you click on the title of your book, you can find out what other people on LinkedIn thought of it, which is sure to spark lively debate and gather new connections that you mightn’t have encountered otherwise.

To see the reading list in action, feel free to visit my profile, http://bit.ly/90yeUQ. As a bookworm, I love to hear what others are reading, so feel free to comment on my book choices, or share your own.