10 Ways You're Ruining Your Chances Of Getting Publicity Without Even Knowing It

There's more than a few ways to get your name in the news. Extravagant claims, incredible altruism, unique twists on old themes. But even the best laid plans of a top notch performer can be sabotaged by any of the following 10 "no-nos" of the promoting business.

1. Never Leave A Job Half Done

Don't decide half way through the planning phase of a project that it isn't worth continuing. Not if you've already committed yourself to the press. Nothing will get a reporter or program manager more upset with you than having to print a retraction to a story they helped you promote.

2. Never Do Anything But Your Best

It's all about reputation. Editors, reporters, talk show hosts and program managers need to know, beyond a doubt, that if your name is associated to a story, it's about a project that's sure to be done right.

3. Don't Wait For The Big Story

You Need to keep your name alive in the news room. It's impossible to have a reputation if your name only comes up once every other year. Watch the news for angles you can twist your reputation, credentials or services into.. Keeping your name alive is.

4. Don't Wait To Get Started

Promotional offices need to have a general information folder about you on file. It allows them to call you when they find a story need. It also gives them backup information to look up when you send a press release. Put together and mail out a folder headed with, "General Background Information on Leila Santori, Archeologist, for your records".

5. Don't Make It Too Long

One page is as much as you can afford to use on each press release. Make it short and informative.

6. Keep It Simple

Make the press release simple, straightforward and to the point. Try to imagine a person who makes a living doing nothing but orchestrating media events. They regularly send out press releases and definitely don't have the time, energy or motivation to print them on fancy, rose trimmed paper. Print your press releases on simple white paper without frills or gimmicks.

7. Don't Go Overboard

It's almost like keeping it simple, but with a slightly different focus. Whereas number six is about making the paper and format of your release look simple and conservative, this idem is about how it's delivered. Again, place yourself in the shoes of the people that send out the vast majority of press releases hitting the desks of editors and program managers. Most releases are sent by people that couldn't dream of sending them all out with a dozen roses. Avoid singing delivery people, costumed couriers, or any other cheap gimmick (regardless of how much you had to pay for it).

8. Establish A Trademark

Within the parameters of keeping it all simple, try finding a way to earmark your press releases. Maybe instead of a simple headline, you might try increasing the size a bit and doing it in bold, underlined Arial. If you're consistent in your general appearance, it won't be long before media people will be able to glance over at an incoming fax and immediately know it's coming from you. This along with a good reputation as a newshound will get you pulled out of the crowd and dropped on top of the list stack for immediate attention.

9. Remember It's The Story, Not You

It's okay to sit in the background. Promote the news item they're interested in. Your schooling, your goals and your family life mean nothing to them (unless you happen to be the actual cause that's being promoted). As long as your company includes its name somewhere, it won't be

10. Do Your Proof Reading

Remember these are media people. Poor grammar or spelling will make a strong negative impression. Be sure you check everything before sending it out.

There's obviously a long list of don't we haven't included here. Lots of subtle variations on these themes and probably a handful we haven't even hinted at. But if you can manage to make it past this list, you're going to find yourself well on your way to writing a winning press release.

By Paul Hartunian
Photography by Gabi Moisa

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