The power of PR

All industries undergo change, and none more than newspapers. (The Fairfax 'cost-cutting' exercise is a case in point.)

But - where there is flux, there is opportunity. As publishers cut costs, they become ever more dependent on being fed the news rather than finding it. Most retailers don't use PR as well as they could, and often because they don't appreciate how much 'news' the average retail business can generate:

  • Every new product launch

  • Every spike (up or down) in sales

  • Every change in fashion/ style

  • Every change in supply/ supplier

  • Every change in price

To capitalise on this opportunity, the press release must work well and we recommend that each release contain these basic elements. (There is no need to be different or creative - just provide the info in a manner that journalists are familiar with. It is really about the newsworthiness...)

  1. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: These words should appear in the upper left-hand margin, just under your letterhead.

  2. Contact Information: List the name, title, and telephone and fax numbers of the company spokesperson. Give a home number since reporters often work on deadlines and may not be available until after hours.

  3. Headline: Use a boldface type.

  4. Dateline: This should state the city and the date you are mailing your release.

  5. Lead Paragraph: The first paragraph needs to grasp the reader's attention and should contain the relevant information to your message such as the five W's (who, what, when, where, why).

  6. Text: The main body of your press release where your message should fully develop.

  7. Recap: At the lower left hand corner of your last page restate your product's specifications, highlight a product release date.

A few general tips:

  • Make sure the information is newsworthy.

  • Start with a brief description of the news, and then distinguish who announced it, and not the other way around.

  • Make sure the first 10 words of your release are effective, as they are the most important.

  • Avoid excessive use of adjectives and fancy language.

  • Deal with the facts.

  • Make it as easy as possible for media representatives to do their jobs.

  • Publicity and advertising must complement each other.

  • Unlike most advertising and personal selling, publicity does not include a specific sales message.