In their 40th episode, Pete talks to Dom about getting publicity and promoting your business in the “real world media” using Press Releases. Pete talks about his blueprint for writing press releases, and gives some tips for ways to make them stand out.
Take Away: Press Releases are easy to write and can get you a lot of free publicity locally, nationally and internationally.
Action Step: Sign up for HARO (Help A Reporter Out) at http://helpareporter.com (or one of the other services mentioned in the notes.
Tech Tip: If you are sending out Press Releases yourself, consider sending them via fax machine, as faxes are unusual and it will make your message stand out.
Transcript:Read it now.Hide it.
Getting Publicity with Press Releases
Pete Williams: Hey guys, Pete Williams here for our 40th episode of PreneurCast. And as always, I’m joined with my version of Barney Rubble, Dom Goucher. How are you, buddy?
Dom Goucher: I’m going downhill, really. It’s like, we started off with Robin, which was OK – just a silly costume. I got a brief spike up to Alfred, and I’m back down to Barney Rubble.
Pete: Next week you could be the Tonto to my Lone Ranger.
Dom: Don’t spoil the excitement and the suspense, really. Don’t give it away yet.
Pete: How’s things?
Dom: Cool, cool, very excited, 40th show. And I just got to tell you now, you’ve been embarrassing me the last couple of weeks with your geekiness, so I got my geek on this week. After listening to the MacSparky Podcast, which is about as geeky as it gets, I was inspired to try out Automator on the Mac.
Dom: And I’ll very, very, very, very briefly do this, because you just need to go and listen to it if you’re remotely interested and if you use a Mac. And if you do anything more than once on a Mac, go and listen to MacSparky Episode 70. Basically, it’s a little control system inside of the Mac, and you just drag and drop little icons. And then you can get the Mac to do anything at all, in sequence like start programs, or send emails, or open files, or rename files, or anything. So yeah, I went completely off the scale of geek this week.
Pete: That’s very nice, dude. Very, very nice. We’ll have to talk off air about that because I don’t think that’s the core focus of our demographic of listeners and what we’re here about, but it definitely does interest me.
Dom: It’s productivity. I’m claiming productivity. But yes, you’re right. Let’s talk about it off air.
Pete: I agree. Now, it definitely is productivity, and I love it. And I guess for people who want to go and be that productive, listen to the fantastic guys over at MacSparky. So, how’s the rest of the week been? We have some exciting news for our 40th show.
Dom: We do, we do. We’re going to do something different from this point on. Very, very excited. After last week’s excellent, if a little unscheduled, interview with Steve Cunningham from Read It For Me. Steve made a fantastic offer to the listeners of PreneurCast. And you can go to his service, Read It For Me, and he’s at the moment, as usual, offering a 14-day trial. But if you go to our special address, which is Readitfor.me/PreneurCast, you’ll also get a 10% discount on the membership to his service.
So, that was really good. And so we’ve got our first sponsor, which is amazing. And even more amazing, and directly related, so look at me staying on topic, we talk pretty regularly, both Pete and I love the Audible service for listening to audiobooks. Now, Read It For Me is a book review service. They’re excellent high-quality, in-depth reviews, but they are nonetheless just reviews.
If you want to listen to the book and get more from it, actually study the book yourself, Audible is an excellent way to do it. And Audible are now sponsoring the podcast. And you can get from a special address – and these addresses will be in the show notes, so don’t worry about scribbling while you’re running or whatever it is you’re doing when you’re listening to us – at AudibleTrial.com/PreneurCast.
Again, you can sign up for a 14-day free trial. But if you sign up at that address, you’ll also get a credit for a free audiobook – any book from the Audible range. And they pretty much have covered, I would say, everything that we’ve talked about in any of our shows.
Dom: Rather than recommend a specific book, I would just say pretty much if you even want to try out listening to audiobooks, go to AudibleTrial.com/PreneurCast, and sign up for the 14-day trial. Use that coupon and get yourself a free audiobook. So that’s awesome. We now got two show sponsors this week. And going forward, we’ll remind you of those. Those links will be in the show notes. But we’re really pleased with that because it’s not just sponsors for the show which helps the show keep going, but both those companies have given something back to the PreneurCast listeners as well.
Pete: And the thing that I love about it so, so much is that they’re two services that I actually use. This isn’t something where we’ve gone out and found sponsors, and then started to magically use their service. I’ve been a paid member of Audible for a number of years now. And that’s where I devour most of my books, as I mentioned previously, is through audiobooks at two speed. And Audible is the solution I use for that.
And as we mentioned previously, I originally just stumbled across Read It For Me. And then since raving about the service, Steve reached out and we made contact. It’s really good to have people that want to actually support the show based around stuff we’ve talked about previously just because we love it, which is fantastic. So I want to sort of say thanks to the community for letting us rant about them so often, and give you guys some fantastic offers with some amazing free trials.
And definitely, even if you don’t want to continue a subscription at Audible, I encourage you to go over and at least take up the free trial and just get a free book. It’s $20 worth of value. All you have to do is spend 30 seconds of your time logging in and picking a book and downloading it, and you have the entire book available to listen on your iPad, your iPod, or whatever else it may be, Android device. So, yeah, AudibleTrial.com/PreneurCast. Can’t recommend it highly enough.
Dom: Yeah. And I, too, I’m really pleased. I just want to go back to that point, Pete; it’s a very good point: Both these show sponsors are not random companies that have approached us or that we’ve approached to either get some funding or other freebies to give away or anything like that. These are both services that both Pete and I use and have spoken about before on the podcast, and can highly, highly recommend. So we’re very pleased that we got these sponsors and that they’re giving something back to the PreneurCast community.
Pete: Absolutely. So let’s move on to the content, the core element of our 40th show!
Dom: Yeah, it’s quite good actually that we’ve got the 40th show and it’s actually bringing us back to where we should have been, because we got a little off track with that special edition last week. But you’ve been promising for quite some time now, and absolutely out loud in the podcast, you said, “Next week we’re going to do publicity.”
And I was waiting for this because publicity is really your thing. We talked about it for when you sold and resold the MCG. And one of the cornerstones of that project was the publicity that you did. So I’m really waiting for this because it’s one of those things that I think not many people know much about, maybe they’re a little bit scared about. So hopefully, you’re going to give us some great tips.
Pete: Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s sort of where the whole, I guess, inspiration for this week’s episode came from. It was off the back of the MCG episode a couple of weeks ago where we spoke about how I sold Australia’s version of Yankee Stadium. And that primarily was really kicked off here through some publicity. And I think the publicity game, so to speak, has changed quite a bit in the last 10 years.
I’ll walk you through the journey that I’ve gone with the publicity and what I’ve done, and share the successes and stuff that I’ve had, and how to do that, and hopefully some other people can do what I did with the MCG idea – just take the idea and implement it yourself. The way I actually generated the publicity, as I mentioned in the other episode for the MCG venture, was simply writing a press release, a good old-school press release. The headline of the release was ‘Twenty-One-Year-Old Sells the MCG for Under $500.’
And then from there, I went on to continue in the actual press release, “A 21-year-old sports fanatic, an AFL member, is now selling the MCG to the widespread public, in pieces. He’s giving the public a chance to own a part of Australian sporting history which is set to disappear after this year’s AFL Grand Final, when the rest of the MCG Pavilion is set to be demolished. Pete Williams is giving sports fanatics and the widespread public the opportunity to obtain framed sections of the MCC-crested carpet that once lay in the Ponsford Stand.
‘People are so passionate about Aussie rules, cricket, and the MCG,’ states Williams. ‘I don’t want to see a big part of that culture simply die. I want to give everyone the chance to have a piece of the MCG and Australian history and sporting legacy hanging in their homes, bars and offices. ‘This is an exceptional and unprecedented opportunity,’ sports memorabilia specialist David Fenech of Frame-Mem Collectables said.
Collectors are fanatic when it comes to celebrities’ autographs, but this is one better. Athletes and celebrities can sign indefinitely, whereas a specific carpet is limited and can never be reproduced, an opportunity too good to pass up.’ In addition to the limited MCC-crested carpet, Williams is offering a small quantity of these pieces framed in authentic timber that was also once located in the now demolished Ponsford Stand which saw over 30 years of sporting excellence.
Those wanting to purchase a piece of the authentic MCG should blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. For immediate inquiries contact Pete Williams on blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.’ So that was the press release I wrote off the back of the idea, and getting my hands on the carpet and doing that sort of stuff we spoke about a couple of weeks ago. And I sent that out to the media. I faxed it to every single radio, TV and newspaper newsroom I could find. I just did this manually. And I also then used the services of media and news distribution company, AAP MediaNet, to get it out to a wider audience.
And very, very lucky that press release, the structure of the press release which we can go through today, was good. It was engaging, got the hook. And yeah, the phone just started ringing and it was fantastic. Got a lot of exposure for that whole venture and have since refined the way I do PR and that sort of stuff. Press releases, I think, are still relevant today, but that is, I guess, in a nutshell, the way I initially got the first wave of publicity for the whole MCG venture.
Dom: Wow. The thing with you though, right… I mean, that is amazing. It’s a great story, I love the MCG story anyway. But the thing is, when you said that, in the MCG, “Oh, yeah, I did a press release,” with your offhanded slight waving of the arm, I feel a lot of people just panicked and ran away screaming. But I’d really like you to go through the structure of that, because it starts with what I think is a fantastic headline, or as you would say, the hook, and it just carries on. And there is a structure to these things, isn’t there?
Pete: Absolutely, absolutely. When it comes to press releases, and there are obviously people listening here today going, “Oh, press releases are so 10 years ago. They don’t work anymore. It’s completely irrelevant.” Well, I’m still getting exposure off writing cold press releases and sending them out to the media. And we can kind of touch on that later and some other new ways to get exposure.
But writing a press release is still important because if you think about it, all a press release really is, is a sales letter selling you and your story idea to the journalist and the editors to actually print in their magazine, or their newspaper, or put you on TV – whatever it might be. It’s simply a long-form sales letter, that’s all it is. So, it’s got to have the same core elements as a good sales letter does.
It’s still relevant to learn how to write these things because not only is it going to make a better salesperson and a better copywriter, it will also give you exposure if you actually send it out and distribute it too. The key thing is obviously having a good structured headline and hook. I was really very lucky that the whole MCG story in its own right was very intriguing. And how does a 21-year-old tell the Melbourne Cricket Ground, first and foremost, and how does he do it for under $500?
This stadium is worth hundreds of millions of dollars to build. So A) why is it being sold? B) Why is a 21-year-old doing it and how is it under $500? It was a very, very compelling hook that I was able to craft for the headline. That was obviously the key thing that you want to get right when it comes to writing a press release, getting that hook in the headline correct, because everything comes off the back of that.
That’s setting the context, if you will, for the release. And something that I will make a bit of a mention of it in today’s episode, we actually released a book about 12 months ago called The Ultimate Press Release Swipe File, which is available on Kindle, Amazon and Barnes & Noble and a few other places as well. So if anyone’s interested in getting a book with 50 templates that you can use to get your business media exposure today, check out The Ultimate Press Release Swipe File.
In there, it’s got a whole bunch of different ideas for headlines and hooks that you can use and edit and mold to your own business. So that’s sort of a side note if you do get stuck for wanting to actually find hooks for your business. And these 50 templates apply to any business, and we can kind of delve into that later if someone’s interested or wants to send an email through with some questions, or Dom, if you want to ask some questions around that.
But the first part of a press release is to get the headline right, just like a sales letter. Then what you want to go into is actually forming the actual supporting evidence to that headline to really reinforce why the headline’s so interesting, and sum it up for a journalist who is reading. So what you want to do is have a leading paragraph, and all that paragraph needs to be is three or four sentences just telling the entire story very quickly.
Just making that communication and painting the entire picture for the journalist or the editor, whoever is in that newsroom, reading the press release that’s come through. And when it comes to structuring the whole thing out, the real key you want to do is try and keep this whole press release just to one page. I also encourage people to use at least 1.5, if not double spacing, so it’s much easier to read. So it’s very, very small in terms of the amount of words you’re actually going to write across the entire press release, but that’s a good structure as the fax machine goes off in the background.
Dom: Could be somebody sending you a press release.
Pete: Maybe, it probably is. That’s the perfect hook there, isn’t it? Perfect, sort of good timing, but that’s the first bit. Then what you want to go on throughout the rest of the press release is just show and prove to the journalists that you are going to make a good interview. That’s why I start quoting myself, and actually show that I’m willing to make comments, that I can be articulate, that I can give good sound bites, and that I can be succinct.
Maybe if the journalist listens to the podcast, they might realize I can’t be succinct and give good sound bites; but in the press release, that’s the whole idea. So I really suggest everyone at least quote themselves a couple of times in the press release just to subtly and subconsciously say that, “Hey, I’m willing to make statements about this and actually stand behind the headline and be verbal and put my name on it.”
So you want to try and do that with a good solid quote. And then the rest of the actual press release is all about just supporting that headline and showing the journalist why it’s a good story. What is the unique element of this idea? Why would it be interesting for people to read, or listen, or watch? And then the final element of the press release is simply a call to action. So just like a sales letter, you want to give the journalist or the editor a call to action.
“For interviews or media inquiries, contact ABC on 123,” and make that solid pitch at the end of the press release. And that’s a really quick structure of how we do all the press releases that we do across the various projects that we play with. And there’s obviously a few other sort of minor tweaks and things like that, but probably too much to get into for today’s show. But that’s a good base structure for doing a press release.
Dom: That’s fantastic. I’m just going to run back through that, if that’s OK. As you say, it’s a sales letter. It’s got structure, it’s got things you need to include and these are the reasons. There’s the headline, which needs to contain the hook. It needs to attack the people so they actually look at it, open it, read it, pick it up, whatever they need to do; it’s that initial ‘get them interested and keep them reading.’ The leading paragraph tells the whole story so they know to keep reading and what they’re going to get.
You mentioned a layout tip there, which I’ll come back to. But you then quote yourself, I love that. You quote yourself not because you’re egotistical, but subtly because you show them that you’ll make a good interviewee, that you can do sound bites. I love that, that’s really clever. The supporting information and data, extra facts and figures. People love facts and figures for stories. Every magazine or newspaper, certainly the radio people, they love adding a fact or a figure in there, and that’s attractive.
And the thing that most people leave off of every sales material I’ve ever seen, from a website to a dedicated sales page, is the call to action. And that’s it. Headline, leading paragraph, make sure you get a quote in, make sure you put some supporting info in, and make sure you do a call to action with contact details. And your tip of laying it out with one half or double space is again, great, because all this comes back to who you’re sending it to and what their job is.
And everything in that is about making it easy to read, easy to understand whether it’s worth reading, easy to get the data out of it, and it ticks all the boxes that they’ve got to do before they decide if they’re going to contact you, or run the story, or whatever. So, that’s brilliant. You’ve really got it down to an art form.
Pete: Once you have that structure, it all comes down to finding a good hook. And that’s where a lot of people get stuck and worried, and that, I guess, is why I put together The Ultimate Press Release Swipe File book. I thought I might as well actually give some examples to helpfully seed some ideas for a few people. So, you’ve got the type of hook which could be the ‘What they don’t tell you about’ hook. The headline in that sort of press release would be, ‘What They Don’t Tell You About _____’.
Some examples there could be, ‘What They Don’t Tell You About Flu Shots’ if you’re in the medical game. Maybe you’re a doctor or you’re a chemist. You can write a press release with the headline ‘What They Don’t Tell You About Flu Shots’. And then your press release could obviously be all about that. ‘What They Don’t Tell You About Going to College’, if you’re in the education space. ‘What They Don’t Tell You About Bailout Bills’ if you’re in the US doing sort of government-type stuff.
‘What They Don’t Tell You About Job Interviews.’ If you’re in the financial or life advice space, you could write a press release with the title ‘What They Don’t Tell You About Job Interviews’, and there’s a press release in there. And it’s definitely going to be of interest to people who are buying magazines of sort of, personal development magazines, money magazines, reading the career section of a newspaper. Those sorts of media outlets are going to be interested to interview and write an article about the topic, ‘what they don’t tell you about job interviews, because it’s perfect for their readers.
Maybe you’ve got an ‘early warning signs’ type hook you could craft for your business, where the headline will be something like ‘Early Warning Signs of _______’. And for that particular type of hook, you might have ‘10 Early Warning Signs of High Blood Pressure,’ again, if you’re in the health niche. ‘7 Early Warning Signs of an Economic Downturn’ if you’re in the financial space. ’10 Warning Signs of a Potential War’ just general news, maybe you’re a psychologist and you want to comment about something happens when someone passes away, or some big event happens in the world economy that might cause a war.
‘5 Early Warning Signs of Facebook Addiction’, maybe you’re in social networking and you want to write a press release about that. And then, you were saying before about stacks, facts and figures. There’s also the percentage increase-type hook like ‘How to Increase Your Something by X%’. ‘Increase Your WiFi Signal by 20%’ if you’re in the technology space. Maybe ‘Trim Your Body Fat by 5%’ if you’re in the weight loss, health or fitness space.
‘How to Increase Your Traffic by 75%’ if you’re in the internet marketing or business growth space. ‘How to Increase Your Sales By 50%’ if you’re in the sales game or even in the business consulting game. ‘How to Increase Your 401K or Superannuation Fund by 20% this year’ if you’re in the financial advice game. There’s plenty of really good hooks and really easy types of angles you can take when writing a press release, if you have like a swipe folder you can go back to.
Dom: I’m going to forgive you, the pimp, there for that particular product placement that we hadn’t pre-discussed, and the reason is that swipe files for any kind of copywriting, or any kind of sales letters, or anything like that, but this kind specifically for press releases and sales letters, swipe files are priceless. Unless you are a naturally gifted writer, unless you’ve been doing it and practice it, then it’s very difficult.
It’s difficult to come up with ideas, it’s difficult to get started. And a swipe file and especially yours, which I’ve looked through, I confess to having used some of the ideas because they’ve helped me to get started, a swipe file is great. I like the way that you broke it out there in that, that you didn’t just blurt out a headline, you actually said it’s a type of headline. Because there are, aren’t there? There are types of hooks, types of headlines, and it’s almost like a fill in the blank.
Pete: Well, exactly. And that’s how we basically structured the book when I put it together and the team sort of helped design it. We made it so every actual template has a mission name. Like for example one of the missions, ‘Struggle With’ is the mission name. The goal is to write a press release that gives your customers answers to the problems they’re struggling with. The formula is ‘Do You Struggle With ______?’ And then we’ve got a bit of a rationale, ‘My Customer,’ blah blah blah.
And it goes on to justify and explain why this particular hook is good for PR. And at the end of the actual little rationale section, we give four or five examples of headlines and how you can adapt it to different industries and business types. So you’re not left with simply saying, “Hey, here’s a whole bunch of headlines, go and actually work it all out and apply it for yourself.” We’ve actually really tried to delve into this enough.
I’ve tried to spend some time and really give some examples of how you can apply that to different businesses. So, ‘Do you struggle with cigarette addiction?’, ‘Do you struggle with low traffic?’, ‘Do you struggle with food portions?’, ‘Do you struggle with back pain?’. There are four or five different ways you can apply that ‘Struggle With’ type of template to addiction, psychological type industries, marketing industries, diet and weight loss industries, or health industries. I’ve really tried to break it down as I put the book together for that reason.
Dom: Yeah, and that’s my point. And that’s why I’m kind of letting you off is because traditionally, a swipe file is when you look at the media and different things that you come across, and you literally swipe it. You take a copy and you put it in a folder for reference. And you’ve got to do all the work. You’ve got to look at it and go, “Hey, how did they structure their headline? How can I make that work for me?”
But this book, literally, it is as you say, it’s fill-in-the-blanks, which is why I love it. It’s always nearby when I’m copywriting, because I can literally just go in, copy out the structure, the mission and the formula, pick a mission, pick the formula out, and then insert whatever word for whatever market I’m addressing or whatever topic or whatever. There’s something in there.
So it’s great. Now, pimp over. People do say, and I have to admit before you and I started to work together, I really wouldn’t have thought about doing a press release because it always seems so big a business, so international, so national, ‘big companies do press releases.’ And it always sounded a bit big for me. But who actually gets these things, and what happens when a press release gets where it’s going?
Pete: Well, generally, when it comes to the traditional-style approach, which still works but there’s obviously other stuff we’ll go into, other ways to engage with social media and web 2.0 and all that we can cover. There’s definitely some great things I want to share, but in terms of the traditional way it still definitely works, and I think it actually works even more now for the same reason direct mail works better now and cold calling telemarketing works better now: because so many people are going away from it.
That means there’s less noise in that area. Not as many people get faxes or press releases these days. So when they do come through, the young journalists go, “What the hell is that thing ringing in the corner?” and go over and look at the fax machine because it’s unique. So having a fax come through is actually kind of a good thing in these days. Because, remember, just because everyone has jumped off the bandwagon, doesn’t mean that’s the right thing to do.
That’s a whole other podcast we can delve into and talk about that sort of stuff when it comes to modeling people and when to model and when not to model. But what happens generally is you’ll email out a press release, you’ll fax a press release, or you’ll use a press release distribution service. There’s a couple of different press release distribution services out there. A lot of people might be familiar with PRWeb.com, which is an online press release system or platform.
They initially were a way to get press releases out to the mainstream media. But over the last few years, their business has adapted to be very much focused on social and web press releases for an SEO and backlink scenario and benefit. I still do a lot of that for SEO reasons and exposure there, but that’s not the sort of platform I’m talking about when actually trying to distribute a press release for real world exposure.
Because remember, the outcome of all of this is to get a journalist to pick up the phone and call you to ask you more questions, and interview you for an entire article. You want to use some of these proper press release distribution platforms that have targeted journalists and databases they can hit directly through fax and email.
So the journalist, the newsroom editor, will see a press release come through in a variety of great ways, will open it up, will read it, and will say, “Does this sort of sound interesting? Does this have a message to market-match? Is it something that the audience of my particular medium – whether it’s radio, print, TV, whatever it might be, is interested in and would actually find valuable?”
If it is, the editor will generally approve that and then pass it back to a journalist who goes off and actually writes the article, and interviews you and contacts you and picks up the phone and have a conversation. And from there, they’ll obviously go and write the piece, whether it’s featuring you as the sole focus, or the piece is around the topic with you as an expert voice or leader.
And then hopefully, that gets out to the mass media through the newspaper or the magazine column, whatever it might be, and gets you positioned as the market leader, gets you more traffic, and gets you positioned in the right way. And that’s what it’s all about, it’s all about positioning and traffic – whether it’s web traffic, foot traffic, or phone traffic.
Dom: Cool. That kind of answered a few questions and raised a few more, and answered ones I didn’t ask, which is cool because you’re good at that. To just emphasize that though, we talk about this a little bit, this concept of market leadership. But there’s another way to look at it, and that is actually getting featured in mainstream media, whether it’s your local radio station or whether it’s a regional, national, or international magazine.
All of that adds to your credibility. It’s not just about advertising, it’s not just about getting people to actually come to your store or visit your website. There’s an element there of that credibility because you’ve been featured in the media, isn’t there?
Pete: Absolutely. Exactly right. It’s that market leadership position that you can then use to increase your prices, help with your conversions, if you show you’re featured in certain media on your website, on your sales page, on your brochure, in your proposals, it just reinforces your market leadership position. It just makes it that much easier throughout the sales process.
Dom: Cool. And so that kind of answers the question I didn’t ask, which was why. Why would you do it? Why would you still do it? Why would you go to the effort? And then there, you started to talk about the places that you go to, to distribute these things. You talked about using the fax machine, which is a great thing and it gives your mum a call and say thanks for the live demonstration on the fax machine during the podcast, by the way.
But you were right about the interruption aspect and that. We needed to talk about that, modeling, when and not to model and things like that. But you talked about something and I was a little bit surprised. You talked about PRWeb, which is the one kind of PR company that a lot of people know about. You talk about PR, and “Oh, PRWeb. I’ve heard of PRWeb.”
But you said something that I didn’t know, which is that they’re moving in this other direction, going with the times as it were. So what other places could you use it? Are there other services that you use yourself that you could recommend, or that just people could actually just investigate? You know about them?
Pete: Yeah, PRWeb still have a part of their service which allows you to target real-world mainstream media for exposure. And I’m sure it works well, although I’ve never actually used that section of their service. If you go to their website today and see the packages they promote heavily and very much push, it’s all about web exposure which gets you listed in Google News and on a whole bunch of websites online, which is great.
But generally, they’re not getting you a lot of actual exposure of eyeballs, they’re getting a lot of the spider exposure for Google, which has its benefits, it has its place. But in the context of this particular conversation, you want to use PRWeb’s main media distribution service which is obviously something they don’t push very heavily but it’s still available. In Australia, I use a service called AAP MediaNet to distribute most of my main important headlines and press releases.
And the reason I do that is because they push out through the news wires, which is probably a term a lot of people have heard. “Direct off the wire is this,” and it’s basically a network, think of it like an RSS reader for journalists. It’s probably the best way to describe it, and it’s been around for years where they subscribe to this news write and all the press releases that are important go down this news wire.
All the journalists can log in and see them come through as they get distributed and sent out to the media. AAP Media have access to the news wires, one thing. Secondly, it’s a professional service. So when you talk about the companies and the big boys that actually play this game, they use companies like AAP MediaNet to distribute their press release. So those press releases obviously have more of a tie with the journalists, and they know it’s going to be more credible, it’s going to be more serious, it’s not someone just kicking tires.
It actually positions you as a market leader as well more so in their eyes because obviously, someone who uses a company like AAP MediaNet must know the game, must be doing this regularly. It’s just a whole implied association thing that works very strongly when it comes to journalists and cutting through all that noise.
Dom: That’s a really good tip, actually. Using the professional distribution services that go through official channels, in and of itself, is a way to get your press release seen.
Pete: Absolutely. Remember, but we’re just trying to sell to the journalists. And again, for those who have a direct marketing understanding, history or exposure, you would know that obviously sending out a mailing piece in a handwritten envelope with a real stamp is going to get opened more than a white envelope with a sticker with a mass-mailing imprint on it. It’s all about what is the perception of how that piece of sales material is actually arriving. It’s the context of the sales letter, it’s the context of the press release. How is it framed?
Dom: That’s Australia, which is great for you. Have you got any international ones that you’ve used?
Pete: Top of my head? I don’t. Unfortunately, I do most of my exposure through people like AAP MediaNet and things like that. For the international exposure I’ve been getting recently, it’s coming off just a market leadership position for want of a better term, and also being a little bit more proactive in the whole social media and web 2.0 world, and using services like HARO, or Reporter Connection, or in Australia, their version, which is SourceBottle. And it’s a fantastic way to sort of embrace the whole way media is evolving to find stories, to find interviewees, to find experts and allow you to position that effectively. Because HARO’s a fantastic service. Are you aware of HARO?
Dom: Oh yeah, I’m on the HARO list. One of the first times I ever came across you, I kind of saw you speak at a conference, and you were talking about this very topic, about PR and about the direct mail stuff and all this. And the thing I actioned immediately was to subscribe to HARO. And HARO is, we’re kind of going away now from how you get your press release out, into the world of, there are actually people asking for stories. This was amazing. Literally, I’m tapping away in the actual conference, subscribing while you’re talking. HARO is Help A Reporter Out, yeah?
Pete: Yeah, exactly. It’s at HelpAReporter.com, and it’s a fantastic service. You explain it, Dom.
Dom: I’ll try. But you are the framing and context master, so I’m going to try. But I think that there’s possibly something you can add to this. The reason why I find HARO interesting is because a lot of people don’t like to push themselves out, don’t like to go out to the real world. They feel that if they send out a press release, they feel they’re standing in the middle of the high street or even in the residential area, and shouting, “Hey, look at me!” which, by the way, you do have to do at some point, otherwise nobody will notice you.
But Help A Reporter Out, HARO as it’s called, is great because literally every day, in fact twice a day, three times a day, you get an email in your inbox. And it’s segmented out into different publications, whether they’re online or offline, radio, TV, whatever. The different kind of markets are segmented out. It’s a list of people looking for people to be interviewed for stories. It’s amazing. Literally, I just scan it every day. I open it, it’s an email I get every day but I make sure I take time every day out.
And by the way the guy writes something funny at the top usually, as well. But it’s a great way, you just scan this email and go, “Is there anything on there that I can respond to? Can I make an intelligent comment? Can I be interviewed for that?” And you scan it, and if no, then you delete it or close it or whatever. And if yes, then if you subscribe to the service, you can actually get in contact with the person and you’re literally helping a reporter out.
Because a lot of this, if you change your perspective for a second, this is my frame on this. This is my context. People feel that press releases are them pushing themselves. But to me, and it was you who helped me realize this, people in media are always looking for stories. Always looking for stories. From the local radio station, all the way up to the international magazines – they’re always looking for something that’s interesting, that’s different, that’s intelligent. They’re looking for characters, people, information on the new subjects, on the old subjects. They’re all looking for something to write about and to put content on.
And the explosion of blogs just means there’s more people looking for content, looking for stories. So you sending out a press release is helping people, it’s not you shouting about yourself. And that really that was my frame and context of that, and it really helped me change the way that I saw it. And HARO is, you just have to sign up for it and see it to realize the opportunity that there is in any marketplace. Because you just get this email and it’s just this long list of people looking for stories every day, it’s amazing.
Pete: It’s fantastic, and you know, Reporter Connection is another version similar, and in Australia it’s SourceBottle.com.au. It’s such an easy way to get exposure for yourself and your business. I actually had an entire chapter written about me and the MCG project and that sort of stuff in a book because the author was looking for case studies and put the call out on HARO for case studies. So I was featured in an international-selling, I think it was a bestseller, from memory, book based off HARO.
So, if I was to say all of the exposure that I’ve had, everywhere from media exposure to radio to interviews to being published as a case study in an international bestselling book. HARO is definitely a tool that you want to be using regularly in your business, because you can start actually getting exposure. And this is one of the very interesting things I hear a lot. If you’re in Australia or in the UK, why would I sign up to HARO because it’s primarily US based?
And that is true. Although there is a lot of global stories that appear, or global opportunities that appear proactively in HARO, one thing that is very interesting is that international people are always perceived as much more intelligent and expert. Think about when you used to watch Oprah. How many of the guests that Oprah have for the various topics were international?
A lot of them, because you have that instant perception of being much more of an expert if they’re quoting someone from overseas. So journalists love the opportunity to actually quote an Australian or a UK or a New Zealander or somewhere else in their US publications because it looks like they’ve gone globally to find the key expert to comment on this particular story. So if you can actually put yourself on that silver platter, and then help them, make them look good by going for an international guest or market leader, it actually helps them as well.
So don’t hold back and say, “I’m based in Australia, I’ll never get exposure in the US.” That’s absolute rubbish. You’ll actually have a greater little leg up by doing it because you’re in Australia, or you’re in the UK, or you’re in a different country. Maybe you’re in America and you signed up for the Australian SourceBottle, and you positioned yourself that way. International people are always seen as much more educated and an expert when it comes to sort of credentials and things like that.
Dom: That’s a great tip, I love that tip. It’s so true as well, it’s so true. So many people start and go, “Oh, well, that’s in England and I’m in Australia, and they won’t be interested.” But really, seriously, whatever the publication is, if it’s solely in the UK, then they’ll go, “Hey, wow, we’ve got this expert from Australia.” It’s that context again, isn’t it? Or framing. It’s framing again.
Dom: And something I’ve got, I have this big thing about perspective and I’ve kind of warbled on about it already once. But your perspective when you look at this, you can’t look at it from your perspective. You need to look what you’re going to try and get out of it, but you need to look at it from their perspective. You are helping them, you are providing something positive for all these different media outlets. So get involved, get out there. Because as you’ve demonstrated, you’re not just saying it, you’ve demonstrated that with a little bit of effort – and it really it, I’ll ask you this in a second, but I know it is a little bit of effort, you can get international coverage.
Pete: Exactly right, and you could be featured in a book.
Dom: And you could be featured in a book too. If you don’t write your own, you can be featured in someone else’s. But seriously though, how hard is this, really? Because that’s the thing. Most people, you say press release, and they run screaming in the other direction because it sounds all big business and all difficult and expensive and blah blah blah blah blah.
Pete: If you go down the traditional press release path, the hardest part is obviously coming up with the hook and writing the press release. But once you get the hook, the press release itself kind of flows once you have a bit of a framework and checklist – to go back to another episode we spoke about, of what you should include in a press release’s layout, which is sort of covered at the top of the show.
But if you had some sort of swipe file or there’s reference that you could use for press releases, you could be writing these very regularly, very easily, and then get them out through these distribution services. It can be part of one of the tasks you do in your critical focus time. Again, I mentioned it in previous episodes about having that critical focus time in your business, and one of those elements is, “I’m going to write a press release every Wednesday at 1 PM in my 40 minutes of critical focus time.”
So that’s very, very easy. When it comes to using HARO and stuff, that’s even easier. You go to the website HelpAReporter.Com, you enter your email address, and you wait for opportunities to come to you and then simply fill out a form saying “Yeah, look, I think I match exactly what you’re looking for. I have experience in X, Y and Z, and here’s a quick sound bite that I think will go well. If you want more information, let me know. Here’s my contact details. Love, Toto. Or Tonto, or The Lone Ranger, or Barney Rubble, whatever it might be.
Dom: Preferably your real name though, seriously.
Pete: Well, true. But it’s very easy to do that. It’s not hard, you just have to be very proactive about it and make it part of your critical focus time to do on a weekly, monthly, or daily basis.
Dom: And in terms of one of our favorite words on this podcast, in terms of leverage, if you look at the amount of time and effort it takes you if you use one little critical focus time unit a day or even a week, that amount of time spent crafting a good press release and getting it out to these services, the exposure you could receive from maybe 25 minutes worth of work is amazing.
The leverage of that time versus the result is phenomenal for any business. There’s an opportunity for pretty much any business at the right level to use press releases to get yourself out there, both to promote your business directly, but more as a point Pete and I are trying to make here, to grow your market leadership, to grow your authority in the marketplace which has that knock-on effect that you can charge more, you’re getting more exposure, you’re getting more respect.
All those positive things. And it all comes from just putting out a press release and eventually, you will get featured. I know the most random of people that have been picked up and featured, as you say, in books, whole chapters or segments, national newspapers, local radio. And once you get going and once you get into the swing of it, it’s fantastic.
Pete: Absolutely, absolutely.
Dom: We’re about out of time here. Let’s wrap it up. I guess I know what your action step for the weeks going to be, but let’s have our action point for the week with getting out a press release.
Pete: Yeah, well, look, I think the action point for this week should be going to HelpAReporter.Com, SourceBottle.com.au, something like that, and subscribing. It’s a very low-friction way to get started and dip your toe in this publicity world. Very easy to get that exposure, but it’s getting on those mailing lists. That’s the real key action step that I want everyone to take this week off the back of today’s episode.
Dom: Cool. Now, I’d like to put in a little tech tip just to try and reclaim my geekiness. But this week’s tech tip is actually a low-tech tip, because I love this tip so much; and that is if you do get to the point where you’re sending out press releases, and you’re doing it yourself, manually as it were, Pete’s tip of using the fax machine is really, really quite powerful.
As you heard with our live demonstration on the show, fax machines make quite distinctive objects, and they’re not used very much. So when one rings and a piece of paper comes out of it, people will stand up. They’ll stop what they’re doing. You know, you could send 1000 emails a day, and no one would look at it because they already got 1000 emails that day. But if you send a fax, and that box in the corner rings, the whole office will stop. So there’s my retro tech tip for the week.
Pete: I love it, mate. I love it, Ke-mo sah-bee.
Dom: OK, cool mate. That’s excellent. I love these shows because it’s something I was afraid of. And I’m thinking there are people out there who also are probably either afraid of it, or weren’t aware of it, or didn’t realize how easy it could be, or why they should even be interested. So I like this show, I’m pleased with this show. But let’s wrap it up there. We’re on time. Quick, get off, we’re on time.
Pete: Sounds good. We’ll see you next week. I think next week, if my memory serves me correctly, next week we’re talking about influence factors, and we’re going to go through Robert Cialdini’s book Influence, and talk about influence factors, the ones that he covers in the book, and how to actually apply them as a filter or as a checklist in your marketing. We’ll kind of use some example there, because I know we touched on that as well during the MCG, How I Resold the MCG episode. We’ll reinforce and cover some of that stuff in-depth on next week’s episode. So, looking forward to seeing you all next week.
Dom: Definitely folks, and don’t forget: We’re going to be talking about the Cialdini book, Influence, which just lets me come nicely full circle back because I’m new to this sponsorship thing. But don’t forget that you can go to ReadItFor.Me/PreneurCast, and you can sign up to the Read It For Me book review service with a discount if you use our code. That will let you review any of the books we talk about on the show. Someone else has actually reviewed the books and produces a fantastic, almost multimedia review of most of the books that we talk about…
Pete: And the best thing is – sorry, I interrupted you there. On that page, when you go to ReadItFor.Me/PreneurCast, Dom and I have actually done an exclusive video which goes for a few minutes, and we actually walk you through what the membership area is like. You can actually see the visual video summaries that are available inside there. You can look at the audio versions if you can look at the audio versions.
You can also get to check out the PDFs and all of the action guides and stuff that we spoke about. We actually walk you through that to give you a taste and a look inside the membership portal, because obviously this being an audio-based platform as a podcast, you can’t see and feel how engaging these summaries are. So we’ve made that available for you on the page over at ReadItFor.Me/PreneurCast.
Dom: Yep. And it’s a 14-day free trial anyway, so watch the video. And if you’re interested, and I would hope you would be, sign up for the 14-day free trial with our code, and you’ll get yourself a little discount there. Thank you to Read It For Me for that. And as I was going to say, if there’s a book that you’re interested in, if we mentioned it and you want to get more in-depth with that book, we both listen extensively to audiobooks using Audible, and Audible also have an offer for you for PreneurCast listeners at AudibleTrial.com/PreneurCast. You can get a 14-day free trial, but also a coupon to get your own free edition of one of the books that they have in their store.
Pete: And they’ve got over 100,000 titles.
Dom: Yeah, it’s huge. Honestly, as I said that at the beginning, I think everything we’ve talked about is in there, pretty much. So there’s our kind of new sponsors, new shiny sponsors for the 40th show. Thanks everybody for listening for 40 shows. Thank you all for all the feedback that you’ve given us. Keep that feedback coming, both on PreneurMedia.tv and on the iTunes Store.
Let us know if you enjoyed this show or any of our shows, and if there’s something that you want us to talk about. We do take all of the feedback, and we try and include it as a show topic if we can. And otherwise, as most people will attest, we will respond to that email, if you email us, and try and help you out directly. So do give us some feedback, we’re looking forward to it. And I’ve just taken us over time, so see you next week, mate.
Pete: Ciao, guys.
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This week, as we’re all about the ReadItForMe service, there are no links, just a recommendation that you check out these books inside ReadItForMe
The Ultimate Press Release Swipe File - Pete’s book including fill-in-the-blanks templates for great, attention-grabbing press releases
- PreneurCast Episodes:
These previous episodes are talked about in today’s show. Go back and listen, if you missed them, over athttp://preneurmedia.tv
PreneurCast Episode 38 - How Pete Sold the MCG
- Online Resources:
http://www.prweb.com/ - PRWeb
http://www.aapmedianet.com.au/ - AAP MediaNet
http://helpareporter.com - HARO – Help a Reporter Out
http://www.reporterconnection.com/ - Reporter Connection
http://www.sourcebottle.com.au/ - Source Bottle
Downloads:Download MP3 Download Transcript PDF