Public relations is the finest way to put your product or service on the map. PR will create a grass roots buzz leading to incoming enquiries from new customers whist convincing existing customers they have made the right choice.

In the early stages of business development it may be you cannot afford a professional PR consultant because you are time rich – cash poor. This article sets out to help you deal with the media, giving journalists what they want and as important, not giving them what they do not want.

The range of media outlets today grows at an ever increasing rate with online publications; Blogs and social media added to traditional press and broadcast outlets. But whatever the media, the rules remain the same. You are dealing with journalists and editors; busy people who are looking for news, but who do not suffer fools and have a quick click to blacklist them.

Pick your journalist.

The software I use allows me to email 687 financial editors and journalists. These range from the financial correspondents of national broadsheets to the editor of School Financial Management magazine. If the latter receives an email from me on the launch of a new business angel fund she will not be pleased. By the third blanket PR email she will reach for the Blacklist button and should I have news relevant to school finances, it will not reach her.

A far better approach is to identify a small number of journalists who will be interested in the fund I am writing about. Read their publications to get a feel for what they are reporting and their special interests. With high circulation publications the editor is probably not your best bet. Identify the named journalist who is writing about your sector and target them.

Pick your publication.

Let us say you are an accountant and a major business win means you will take on ten new staff. It would be lovely to have a splash in Accountancy Age to make the competition go green with envy. But do your clients and potential clients read Accountancy Age? Probably not. They are far more likely to read the business pages of your regional newspaper. You would target Accountancy Age only if your product or service is relevant to accountants. Few businesses sell to the competition....

Before you start...

Ask yourself "Is this news?" That is to say, will the reader be interested? Winning a major new contract may be big news for you but is it news for the reader?

Writing your press release.

This is the easy bit. A decent command of the English language and a few simple rules are all you need until your business grows to the point where you simply haven't the time to write your own PR and you need to bring in someone.

Start with a formatted press release like this:

News from Acme Ltd

Immediate release. (Today's date)




Picture caption: Acme Ltd managing director Jane Smith at the opening of the new factory in Cramlington.




Your Story.....




Note for editors:

Northumberland based Acme Ltd was setup in 2012 and is a manufacturer of hydraulic systems for the petrochemical sector.

For further information please contact Jim Jones. Marketing Manager. Acme Ltd.

Mobile: 07792 600 000

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




You can say anything in 250 words so aim for two A4 pages (double spaced) as a maximum. When faced with that scary thing, a blank white sheet, simply do a mind dump. Get your facts in there then go and have a cup of coffee. Return and edit. Mercilessly.
Your first paragraph should contain the Who, What, When, Where, Why. Aim for 50 words maximum.

Avoid superlatives. You may believe you are truly world class but if you are, the Financial Times will be ringing you, not the other way around.

Avoid naff tie-ins. During the Olympics one newsroom ran a competition. Who could collect the most PRs claiming "We are going for gold". Each and every one got themselves blacklisted by the entire newsroom.

Ask yourself why you are using the word 'and'. If you find yourself saying "This product is ground breaking and leading edge", pick one or the other. Then ask yourself if it truly is that thing.

You have seconds to persuade a journalist to open your email. Use them well. "Burgeoning Acme Ltd open state of the art factory" in the header is likely to be deleted unopened. "New factory creates 200 jobs" will get you past first base.

Spellchecker is your enemy. READ and re-read your PR. Spelling advertising as advertizing will have a UK journalist throwing their coffee cup around. Spellchecker will not spot that you have written 'formally' when you meant 'formerly'. A journalist will.

Make sure you include contact information and that the named individual is available to take calls. A journalist will choose a mobile number over a landline and either over email.

Finally, do not ring a busy journalist with "Hi, just checking you got the press release I just emailed you?" If you got the email address right, they got your email.


Double spaced, Arial 12 point type.

Most PR goes out as email. Paste your PR into the body of the email and attach as a Word document, not a PDF.

Do not begin your email with "Hi. I thought I would send you this interesting press release..." It is obvious it is a PR and the journalist will decide whether or not it is interesting.


A good photograph is the difference between a page splash and a small column. Look at the publication to find out what sort of images the picture editor favours. Three guys in suits looking smug will seldom make the grade. Avoid including your logo or you run the risk of having your picture branded as an advertisement in disguise.


If by this stage you are thinking ARRGH with a vision of journalists as a bunch of tight wrapped malcontents – don't. Journalists are busy professionals with a 'To Do' list as long as your arm. Provide them with the facts their readers want and you have the basis for a long, mutually beneficial relationship. So enjoy it. Look forward to two 'Punch the Air' days. When your first story appears in print and when a journalist rings you for comment.

Article by Paul Easton of Easton Associates.

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