May We Have Your Attention?

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Gain exposure by using the power of the press.

Business is booming . . . We're opening a second location . . . We'restaying open later to accommodate the crowds. Want to hear yourself sayingthose words? Wonder if your company's 15 minutes of fame will ever come? Itcould happen sooner than you think, says Alan Caruba, PR guru and author of thehandheld guide Getting Famous: How to Write a Successful News Release(The Caruba Organization, $5, 973-763-6392). Caruba knows plenty about grabbingthe spotlight: He's also founder of the hype-driven Boring Institute, a mediaspoof known for its annual list of the 10 most boring celebrities.

Fame is elusive, and it's no wonder some businesses go completely unnoticed intheir communities, says the Maplewood, New Jersey, PR expert. What start-upentrepreneurs don't know about the power of a good press release canhurt them--and that's no laughing matter. To start with, Caruba points out,it's called a news release, so it's got to contain news.

Exactly who should be in the know about your company? Create a media list--a"who's who" of area newspapers, news shows and the names of the media peoplewhose recognition you want to cultivate. (Take a trip to the library to culladdresses and phone and fax numbers.)

Next, send one news release a month--and don't be surprised if it's sixmonths before you get any attention, says Caruba. Media contacts need to getcomfortable with seeing a regular release from you before they'll act.

Ready to get famous? Sample the essential elements of a successful newsrelease, below. (We asked Caruba to use an imaginary graphic design firm as hismodel.)

1. An eye-catching headline that uses action words (e.g.,"reveals" or "exposes"): Design Determines Success or Failure.

2. A subheadline that tells who you are: Miles Cameron of Supreme GraphicsReveals Design Secrets.

3. A lead paragraph containing a strong quote or statement about a matter ofgeneral interest: Graphic designer Miles Cameron of Supreme Graphics says,"Without strong design elements today, any product, publication or project isat a significant disadvantage." A survey by Supreme Graphics on the linkbetween graphics and success produced surprises.

4. A second paragraph offering key information about the location and nature ofyour company: Supreme Graphics of Summerdale, California, is offering areport on its recent survey to local businesses and organizations.

5. An easy-to-comprehend third paragraph with concise information on the reasonfor the release: Find out how graphic design can make a difference in yourbottom line, from increasing repeat business to a higher referral rate.

6. A strong closing quote or statement: In print, on television and on theInternet, an investment in graphic design has become an essential factor ofsuccess in today's competitive visual era.

7. A reinforced key word (such as "success") that appears in the beginning,middle and end of the release.

8. Name and phone and fax numbers of the contact person.

9. One page in length only.

Still intimidated? Don't be. "If you can write a good letter, you can write agood news release," promises Caruba. And if you can't? Pay a professional to doit for you. "Public relations is essential, no matter how much money you'respending on advertising," Caruba says.

Need a jumpstart? Check out Caruba's Web site ( torequest a copy of Getting Famous.

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