Beyond the Press Release

How Do I Create a Plan of Action?

Now that you know what you want to accomplish, you must create a plan of action--a way in which you will achieve your objectives. Let's begin with a time chart.

Your time chart should be a weekly calendar of things that you will do to promote your business. Each promotional effort should be listed, with its start and completion dates indicated.

It is important to remember that the media, whether print or broadcast, all have lead times--the time between when they receive your promotional material and when it appears. For this reason, your promotional materials must be released well in advance. For example, suppose your new company is going to introduce a new product. Obviously, you want people to know about it. Once you send a press release to a publication, however, it can take from two to four months for that release to be printed. Therefore, your time chart for promoting your new product should begin four to six months prior to the release date, if you are to realize any benefit from your effort.

If you're running a one-person show, you must be realistic in your action planning. It's best to keep your initial plan simple, and expand it later, when you have more people and resources to assist you.

What Is a Press Release?
The press release is the most common communication tool used in PR efforts. It is an informational letter describing a newsworthy fact about your company. Written correctly, the press release can be very effective in promoting your business. Also, unlike advertising, which can be very expensive, magazines and newspapers do not charge for editorial coverage. That means you pay only for the cost of postage (and photography, if you choose to include a photograph).

Of course, editors receive many press releases, and there is no guarantee that yours will be printed. Therefore, you must try to make your release stand out from the crowd. How? Be professional. Remember these tips when issuing a press release:

1. Keep your target audience in mind. The worst thing you can do is to inundate all publications on your mailing list with the same press release. Research the publications first. Make sure you tailor your release to their respective markets.

2. Start with the most important information. Publications rarely run press releases word for word. Editors usually cut from the bottom up, so make certain you've included all the necessary facts in the opening paragraphs.

3. Keep it factual. The fastest way to diminish your credibility is to put gushing, biased copy in your press release. Editors want the facts, not your opinion.

4. Make sure it's news. Editors want to create publications that are interesting to their audiences. Find the angle. Is your company new, unique or unusual? Tell them how running your release can benefit their readers.

5. Photos help. Editors love photos. Supply a caption, identifying any individuals pictured, and type it on a separate sheet of paper. (Never write on the back of a photograph.) And make sure you have a digital copy at the ready to e-mail editors in need.

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