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Internet Public Relations

There are many common incorrect perceptions that people have about the role of public relations. To understand public relations or PR better, it is quite useful to put yourself in the position of an editor for a newspaper, magazine, or online site.

As an editor, you work for the "publisher" of the publication or site. The publisher is responsible for making a profit on the publication or site. These profits generally come from advertising and not from subscriptions.

As en editor your job is to "get the news." A regular publication is a big hungry mouth to feed. Every issue requires that you deliver lots of interesting stories to fill the editorial (non-advertising) pages. Fortunately for you, smart public relations people send you a stream of press releases with stories about what their clients are doing. This is where much of the news you read comes from, those who are skilled at getting their press releases into the hands of hungry editors starved for news.

How to Write an Effective Press Release
The following guidelines will help you to publish effective press releases of your own.

Tone
This is a question that you can easily ask yourself; would you prefer doing business with your neighbor or someone located an ur press release should be written in objective, third-person style, with much the same tone as a newspaper article. The most important advice in writing a press release is stick to the facts. The release should not read like an advertisement or promotional item, so avoid superlative adjectives wherever possible.

The Heading
Your press release should always include a contact name and phone number. It should also indicate when the information can be released (for example "For Immediate Release"). The headline of your release should be simple and descriptive (for example "XYZ Internet Begins Offering Internet Hosting and Ecommerce Solutions").

The Elements Of A Press Release - The Six W's
A press release should give an editor the following information clearly and simply:

Who: Who is issuing the release? Who are the other parties involved, if any?

What: What is your message? What is this release about?

Where: Where did the event/news take place?

When: When is the event/news taking place? When would you like the information release?

Why: Why is this newsworthy? What benefit(s) does it bring? What are the goals of the event/news?

How: How did/will you accomplish the goals?

The Lead Paragraph
The lead paragraph starts with a dateline, and includes only the most important elements of the Six W's. For example:

(when:) For Immediate Release:

(what: headline) XYZ INTERNET BEGINS OFFERING INTERNET HOSTING AND
ECOMMERCE SOLUTIONS

(where:) ANYTOWN, CA (when:)(February 1, 2000) Today (who:) XYZ Internet of
Anytown announced (what:)that it will begin offering Internet Hosting and
Ecommerce solutions to clients.  (why:) XYZ will focus on empowering
clients to join the digital revolution by providing them the latest web
site hosting technology and ecommerce solutions.

The Body
The body of the release should support the headline and lead paragraph and focus on providing supporting information for the Why? and How? of the announcement. It is often useful to include a quotation from a company executive, which can contain verbiage that conveys a more promotional and personal tone.

The Boilerplate
A press release should conclude with the company's boilerplate. This is a standard description of the company and its products or services. A example of a boilerplate follows:

XYZ Internet provides leading edge Internet Hosting and ecommerce services
to clients throughout the world.  XYZ Internet utilizes the latest in
Internet technology and some of the fastest network connections available
to provide superior services to its clients.  XYZ is a privately held
company headquartered in Anytown, California.

Place the boilerplate at the bottom of all press releases, followed by:

All trademarks are properties of their respective holders.

On the bottom of the last page, let the publication know they got the whole thing by typing:

- END -

Following Up
Once your press release has been written, identify the appropriate person at each publication where you will send your release. This person is often an editor or reporter. Try to find out how the editor likes to receive press release information, whether by email, mail, or fax. A release sent to an editor in their preferred way will get attention much faster.

Once you have sent the release, you can also call to follow-up, especially if you have any additional relevant information to offer. Remember, editors are very busy, so don't be discouraged if you are unable to contact the editor on the first call. The editor will run your story if he or she thinks it is interesting to readers; however, be sensitive of the editor's time and the fact that the editor might not print every story that comes across his or her desk.

If you are successful in getting the story to run, be grateful and gracious to the editor. Never, ever call an editor to tell them that you didn't like the way your story was run. If there are severe factual errors in the story that have the potential to hurt your business, you should first consider a letter to the editor, and then follow-up with a phone call. Consider first that publications rarely print retractions or corrections, and public relations is just that-relations. There is almost no case where the potential damage to your relationship with an editor is worth the risk of such a complaint.

Where to Find News for Your Own Releases
You might be surprised about how many potential news stories already exist about your organization. Below are a few examples of newsworthy items:

  • New products or services
  • The opening of a new location
  • The promotion or addition of an executive staff member
  • Annual earnings or growth results

Effective press relations is a very powerful way to raise local awareness of your organization. However, remember not to strain your relationship with editors by constantly presenting them with trivial or mundane information. Use press relations only to reach your audience with your key messages that are newsworthy.

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