Introduction to working with the media

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1 Introduction to working with the media

2 Introduction to working with the media Five reasons to work with the media 3 The secret to working with journalists 4 PR tactics 5 Photo stories 5 Media gift 5 Partnership working 5 Press releases 5 How to write a press release 6 How to get your press release noticed 8 Maximise your PR opportunities through VisitScotland 10 Tell us your news 11 Press trips 12 eupdate 12 Resources 13 Press release template 14 If you would like to promote your business in the media, advertising is not your only option. Discover how easy it is to generate low-cost coverage by working well with the media, writing good press releases and maximising the opportunities VisitScotland offers you. Five reasons to work with the media: 1. Build and maintain your good reputation The public is made aware of your products and services and employees feel proud to work with you because you are recognised in the media. 2. You can get positive coverage If you cooperate with journalists or, even better, proactively give them what they need. 3. Cost-effective PR delivers high value for low investment. Editorial coverage can often be more valuable than advertising. 4. People are influenced by what they read Customers are more likely to take notice of an article in a newspaper they trust, than an advert. 5. Sales Public interest generated from the media can result in direct sales leads. This magazine is printed on environmentally responsible paper. 2 3

3 The secret to working with journalists... Be polite! Even if they aren t. The best advice is to help journalists as much as possible by giving them (where reasonable) what they ask for. Ensure that your information is relevant to them and provides a good read! Do respect their workloads but don t give up if the first response is no. Here are a few things journalists want from you: Something new Do you have an innovative product or service? Give journalists an interesting angle to work with. Try something quirky that reflects recent trends. Something relevant Review the media outlet you are targeting. Think about the readers, listeners or viewers and provide content that is relevant. Make connections Are there connections between your business and a celebrity or a new film or book that s about to be released? Or is there an interesting historical fact you ve uncovered? Topical or seasonal stories Think about stories where you can maximise on current news or tie into seasonal events. For example, are you doing something special for Valentine s Day? Think about other National Days too there are lots to choose from! Statistics Give them something factual to work with. If you have any surprising statistics consider how these might make an engaging media story. Great pictures Stories with images attract the reader s eye. Make sure your photos are of excellent quality. You could even hire a photographer to do them for you. If you don t provide photos, journalists are unlikely to spend their precious time sourcing one. PR tactics There are a number of Public Relations tactics you can use to communicate topics of interest to the media and potentially generate coverage for your business. Among these are: Photo stories If you have a story that can be illustrated well through a photo, consider appointing a press photographer. Most press photographers will be able to send images to media titles for you. To find one, contact reputable local photographers or search the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Freelance Directory. Media gift If you have a product you think might inspire media to take notice of your business, consider sending it to your target publication. This may not result in direct coverage, but it s a good way of building relationships. Partnership working Consider working in partnership with other businesses to create packages or stories that could help strengthen the appeal of your PR. Look at events in your area and work with partners to provide a timely hook for a story. Interviews If you identify a regular feature in a newspaper that requires an interviewee, offer yourself or a relevant member of staff to be interviewed for it. Press releases A press release is a piece of written communication you can direct at the media via , post or on your website. The aim of a press release is to provide all the information that journalists need to develop a news story. 4 5

4 copy How to write a press release A press release is an important tool for releasing a story to your contacts. If you write a good one, it is more likely to be used by journalists. Before you start, ask yourself: Why am I writing this press release? Who is my target audience? What s my story? If you feel a press release is the best way to reach your audience here are 12 useful tips for creating one: 1. Organise your facts The first paragraph should contain information on: who, what, why, when, where and how. 2. Timeliness and contact details Make sure your story is timely and topical and provide contact details so that journalists can request further information if required. Provide your telephone number, address, website and social media platform if you have one. 3. Write in the third person the customer stayed for a week not my customer stayed for a week. 4. Don t use hyperbole his suitcase was heavy is better than his suitcase weighed a tonne. 5. Provide facts and figures not opinions the customer left a tip not the generous customer left a tip. 6. Create a catchy headline Keep it short and simple with less than ten words. Try to get the key point across in a light-hearted manner. Make sure you grab the attention of the journalist. 7. Use Quotes Use quotes from people who can endorse your story or provide insights which can add to it. Make sure that you check with the individual if it s ok to use their quote and provide full details of their name and job title where relevant. Use quotes to draw conclusions e.g. John said, I ve had such a great time at the Banana B&B that I ll definitely come back next year rather than customers come back because they have a great time at the Banana B&B. 8. Keep it short The shorter your press release, the easier it will be for a journalist to consider it for a story. Sometimes just a paragraph can suffice. Try not to make your press release longer than a page. 9. DON T send your press release as an attachment Anti-virus software can block attachments. Paste the copy of your press release in the main body of an Write numbers One to ten in letters and thereafter numerically, e.g. one, two, 11, Don t presume The journalist or reader knows about your company. It s good to include a few words on what your business does. 12. Spell check! For VisitScotland s template to help you write your press release, please see the end of this document. 6 7

5 How to get your press release noticed Once you ve written your press release, it s important to target it at the right time to the right publications. Send your press release to: A publication you know it would be suitable for For example your local paper might often include stories about local businesses. Consider your target audience, where they are based and what media they absorb. Your own networks If you know another business, collaborate with them and work together to get your news noticed. Your contacts For example organisations that you work with like VisitScotland. Membership organisations or travel associations you are part of Such as The Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions. They may be able to include your story in their newsletter. Here are some words from two of our in-house communications staff: Tom Maxwell Press Officer at VisitScotland and former freelance journalist comments: To get your press release noticed, know the publication you re sending it to. Read several issues of it cover to cover. Get to know regular features and special offers pages that journalists will be looking to fill up. Identify journalists that write about certain themes. Sometimes it s useful to phone the publication s reception and ask who to contact for a certain story. Remember though, you can t expect your press release to go in first time. Getting your story noticed is a learning curve and sometimes it s just down to luck. Barbara Clark Head of Corporate Communications at VisitScotland and former journalist comments: Don t be afraid of journalists. Local newspapers often welcome press releases from local businesses it s their bread and butter. Timing is also important. A newspaper goes to press the day before it comes out. If you know the publication date, send in your stories that day or the day after since that s the earliest opportunity for journalists to pick up stories for their next issue. If you have an event, try and publicise it two weeks in advance that means contacting the newspaper three or four weeks in advance. 8 9

6 Maximise your PR opportunities through VisitScotland At VisitScotland, we are always on the lookout for interesting or unusual news stories that demonstrate what Scotland has to offer as a tourist destination. Did you know...? Our Consumer PR team promotes the Scotland brand to media contacts in the UK and worldwide. In 2010/11, more than 4,850 pieces of Scotland coverage were generated as a result, reaching an audience in excess of 575 million. The coverage we generate extends beyond the travel pages to highlight the wider tourism offering in Scotland. This includes coverage in fashion, food & drink, sport and entertainment media sections. VisitScotland works on some major joint projects which generate immense news interest, for example we have worked with film distributors on The Da Vinci Code, The Water Horse, The Eagle and other films connected to Scotland. Tell us your news The consumer PR team is interested in hearing from you to make sure there are plenty of story ideas and travel news featuring the best of Scottish tourism products. Ruma Cummins, UK & Ireland Consumer PR Manager says: We have a partnership approach to working with industry and love to receive your news and product information. The team sets up over 100 press trips a year so we are always looking to work with businesses on these. Our monthly PR newsletter is sent to a database of over 400 journalists. We also send out seasonal stories and we re always looking for surprising and quirky information for these. Journalists often work at least three months ahead of schedule, so we need to know about what you have planned as early as possible

7 We d like to hear about: New business developments or surprising stories e.g. is there a stunning wildlife spectacle that takes place in your area that you can t see anywhere else in the UK? Or are you offering a new style of eco accommodation? Seasonal offers such as Christmas packages or Valentine s Day Promotions Golfing packages Events you are hosting Year of Creative Scotland 2012 stories. For more information on how you can get involved: / business_support/business_resources/ year_of_creative_toolkit.aspx There are no guarantees that your press release will be used for a story. However, we endeavour to use as many stories as possible for our regular media update that is sent out every six weeks. So please keep us up to date with what you are doing. Press trips We can arrange for you to host a journalist during the press trips that we organise. Having a journalist stay at your hotel, visit your attraction or eat at your restaurant, gives them the perfect opportunity to review your business. Remember! It s important that you clarify what you ll get in return for your hospitality for example a reference to your website in the article. Make sure that you know how much will be written about your business whether it s a paragraph or simply a link to your website. Make the most of this opportunity and use it to present the very best of your business. Offer a warm and personal welcome and check the journalist has everything they need. Resources You can find out more about the visitors that come to Scotland and their holiday habits on the research and statistics section of VisitScotland s corporate website. This may help you to target your stories to the right audiences: /research_and_ statistics/visitor_research.aspx For more information on the PR teams at VisitScotland: /media_centre.aspx The Chartered Institute of Public Relations has PR resources and information on training schemes and events: The National Union of Journalists Freelance Directory contains contacts for copywriters, photographers, translators and other media professionals: The PRCA is the professional body that represents UK PR consultancies, in-house communications teams and PR freelancers: Trav Media works as a communications channel by sending press releases from travel companies and organisations to journalists: Food4media works as a communications channel by sending press releases related to food and restaurants: eupdate Keep an eye on our eupdate newsletter which is issued once a month. The PR teams often include requests for information on specific media projects we are working on. To view recent editions of the VisitScotland eupdate and to subscribe go to: briefyourmarket.com/default.aspx To submit your story to the PR team and/or to tell us you would like to host a press trip, please

8 Press Release Template to help you create yours Insert date NEWS RELEASE COMPANY LOGO (may be embargoed until the day you want press to print or for immediate release ). CENTRE THE HEADLINE & BOLD/CAPITALS around 16pt for the font [Usually 11 or 12 pt for main body text.] Your first sentence should get to the point immediately, summing up what the story is and catching the journalist s attention! (No more than 2 sentences). Keep all sentences reasonably short and sell your story as you speak, keeping it interesting and to the point. Mention key points about your company/organisation Dundee s number one tourist attraction / Oban s renowned seafood restaurant etc. Build the picture through paragraphs three and four giving more detail. Any partners involved should be mentioned in your press release. Include supporting quotes that should add value and information, with the most important first: John Smith, manager of xxx Hotel said:... There should ideally be no more than two, maximum three quotes in a release. Include any relevant information the reader will need e.g. to book tickets, call xxxx or go to ENDS (This indicates to the journalist where your story ends). For further information please contact: [name, title, organisation, telephone number and address] Notes to editors: (usually in 10pt) Bullet points to give information on the organisation/company that isn t needed in the main body of the release but good to give journalists as background

9 We d like to hear from you. If have any comments on this publication, or ideas for future AdviceLink guides, please us at For further business advice, visit Business Support at Published by VisitScotland Partnership Communications Advice team VisitScotland Ocean Point One 94 Ocean Drive Edinburgh EH6 6DE

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