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Agony Lance: How to get media coverage

How do you make press releases stand up and stand out?

We [200Square] are an online real estate agency selling houses for prices that make the industry scared. We find it hard to get noticed, despite the fact that the press seems to love the property market. How do we make our press releases stand up and stand out?
– 200Square, the internets

agony lance wiggs idealogTo get into the press you need to have three things: a story, a journalist and the right timing. [Ed: And writing in to agony aunt columns helps, too.]

Make sure you are clear on who the audience for your story is, what the message is and what the best route to your audience is. Focus on the story itself – is there a good angle that will be compelling in print? ‘200Square is great’ isn’t compelling, but ‘200Square sells 100th house’ or ‘200Square delivers a pony’ are much more interesting stories.

The story should be told in the first paragraph, with context and quotes in the rest of the release. Finish with contact details and an about-us. That last section is a good way to remove clutter from the press release.

While the press in general seems to love the property market, you’ll need to focus on the really important writers in the right media for you. If you want funding from high-tech entrepreneurs, then Idealog or TechCrunch may be your pick. If it’s early adopters in the real estate industry, try local real estate blogs.

Hit the pause button before you spam everyone with your press release. Instead focus on just a few people. For each audience there are key journalists and editors to connect with, so find out who they are in your space and read what they write. Get in touch with one or two, and consider offering an exclusive story or an early view. Make sure that you treat all the journalists with respect, and act in a fair manner – New Zealand is a small place and everybody wants a story.

Finally, learn the standard hours and deadlines for the media you’re targeting, and make sure the journalists have plenty of time to write their story. It also pays to check the current news yourself, and avoid publishing on days where a large news story in your sector will take all of the space.

Above all, keep delivering the results from your business, and creating great stories to tell. Announce the stories that are interesting enough to publish, and keep quiet if you have nothing to say.