Stop! Do You Grab The Media's Attention? Read these tips to get the most out of your PR efforts.

Have all your attempts to grab the media's attentionproduced less-than-stellar results? The problem could be themessenger. Here are a few key ways to grab-and keep-mediaattention:

1. Understand what news is. More than anything else,learning what information makes a great news story will determineyour success in generating media coverage. News stories typicallymust adhere to the following guidelines: be timely; have arelationship to the target audience; have significance or aconsequence associated with it; feature a prominent person orentity; involve an element of conflict, action or drama or have adistinct human interest angle.

2. Identify your newsworthy activity or message.Newsworthy items include new products or services; a new locationor building; staff members, clients or accounts new to yourbusiness; special events you're hosting; employee volunteerachievements; a company anniversary; a free informational seminaror a human-interest feature that highlights an employee orcustomer.

3. Develop a plan. Outline the steps you expect to taketo attract media coverage. Use a calendar and plot out the times ofthe year that have the most opportunities for you to capitalize onmedia exposure. Also consult the editorial calendars of the presssources you'll be using. Some have lead times as long as sixmonths so you'll need to pitch your article ideas early.

4. Come up with a media list. Once your press release iswritten, you need to know who you should send it to. Start withlocal papers, publications and magazines. Spend some timeresearching the publications' different sections ordepartments. Which ones seem best suited to your business?Don't overlook radio and television when doing your homework.Know the special news segments for each local newscast, and getfamiliar with local radio stations' formats. Finally, make sureyour contact list is up to date and accurate. Confirm the names,addresses, phone numbers and titles of the reporters you'recontacting.

5. Get started, and then follow up. It's easier tostart locally and work your way nationally. Begin with local clubnewsletters, community newspapers, and radio and television newsdepartments. The learning curve is more forgiving when you makeyour mistakes on a local level rather than with a major newspaper.Regardless of the media organization, however, always follow up.Reporters are more likely to cover a story if they've hadpersonal contact with the source. Start this follow-up processthree to four days after you send the press release, and payattention to which reporters and which releases generate aresponse. Keep in contact with your targeted journalists andreporters because you never know when they'll need you as aresource or as the subject of a feature article.

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