Get the Word Out
Originally published: 10.01.20 by Pete Grasso
Last month I wrote about the need for this industry to talk about ventilation (Let’s Talk About Ventilation) with your customers. We’re in the midst of a pandemic, spread through the air, so of course we need to be talking about ventilation and air quality with our customers.
But why stop there? You are professionals — experts in this area — and you should be a resource for anyone who wants to talk about the importance of indoor air quality as people move back indoors. Of course, that means speaking with the media! Professional journalists always need expert sources, and when it comes to HVACR and IAQ, who is more of an expert than you?
Most of the time, though, the media isn’t going to seek you out. You have to solicit them and position yourself as an expert on all things HVACR. This is where a good public relations program comes in.
There are a variety of ways to let your expertise be known and become a go-to source for the media. But let’s start at the beginning. The press release is the staple of any public relations program. It’s the most basic tool for getting news out about your company. Writing them is pretty straightforward, and yet so many seem to get it wrong.
Allow me to be a little preachy on this subject, as writing press releases is something I’ve done a lot of during my former career as a PR pro. And, during my years as an editor, I’ve received a lot of press releases — some good, some bad.
Don’t be intimidated by the thought of writing a press release. Yes, there are many PR pros out there who do nothing but write press releases, but that doesn’t mean you can’t write one when your company has news to announce.
On the flip side, don’t underestimate the effect an unprofessional press release has on your company/brand. Put some thought into writing it, but don’t overthink it. Here are my top six tips for making the most of your press release:
One Subject: Keep your focus to one piece of information. Including too many different topics in your press release can overcrowd your message and make it difficult for media outlets to pick it up.
Keep it Simple: Your message should be straightforward. Remember, when reporters write stories they have to answer Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. Do the same in your press release and keep it to only those points.
Spell Check: Always, always, always spell check and proofread your press release. Have someone else read it too. You won’t be taken seriously if your press release is loaded with spelling and grammatical errors.
Target: Know where you plan to send it to before you write it. This is huge. The more familiar you are with the publications to which you’re sending it, the better you can tailor your release to them.
It’s a Tool: Remember, the press release is just one tool. You can’t write it, send it out and forget about it. The most successful press releases are simply conversation starters with editors.
Who Cares?: Always ask yourself this before writing a press release. Sure, it might seem important to you, but is it really news? Will people really care about it? You shouldn’t write a press release about every little thing your company does. Make sure people will care about what your press releases is about.
Writing your press release is only the beginning. Now you have to send it out and try to get it published. Sometimes, this is easier said than done. But, if you spend a little time doing some research, your chances for success will be much higher.
For starters, figure out where you’d like your news to be published. Is it the local paper or television news station? Get familiar with the media outlet you’re targeting and frame your press release so that it fits best with the type of content they regularly publish. Find the best person at each media outlet to contact and send your press release to them.
Now, this next step is crucial. After sending your press release, call them and “pitch” your news to them. Keep your pitch short and relevant. Identify yourself, state that you’re calling in regard to the press release you recently sent them, give them a brief overview of the press release and then ask if they have any questions or need anything from you further.
Even if they’re not interested in that particular piece of news, it’s important to remain positive. Building a relationship with the media is the most important part of public relations.
If the local media is familiar with not only who you are but also what you and your company do, then when a story arises around, say, the importance of indoor air quality, they’re going to turn to an expert with whom they already have a relationship.