February 2012

Supply Side

Get the most out of media releases

By Jon Baird

Mining suppliers often miss opportunities to tell the world about their successes. Any time a major contract or award has been won, a new product launched, a new facility opened, an event scheduled, or an important new team member hired, it is worth announcing to the public through a well-crafted document.

Today’s media is mainly comprised of electronic outlets, so the term “press release” should be advantageously superseded by “news release” or “media release.” Essentially, releases are brief news stories, written in the third person and designed to catch the attention of reporters or editors who will publish them as provided or use them to develop feature articles.

Reporters are interested in stories that will be of interest to readers, not in helping you sell your product or attracting visitors to your website. To get your material published, you have to make it newsworthy. Below are some tips to flag the interest of the reader:

  • Timing is important. Do not delay in announcing your successes in order for them to be the most newsworthy. Date your releases or state “For Immediate Release” so that they will appear to contain fresh news.

  • Write a catchy headline. Keep it brief, clear and to the point like the headlines newspapers use. Extract the most important keywords from your information and frame a logical and attention-getting statement that encapsulates your idea and will give you the highest visibility in search engines.
  • Bold headlines at the top of the main copy. Similar to newspaper headlines, you may leave out the articles “a” and “the.” Headlines should be written in the present tense.
  • Use subheads – they are often overlooked but, just like photo captions, they can receive a high degree of readership. They allow you to expand on your headline and further hook the reader.
  • Write the body copy as you would like it to appear in a publication. The first paragraph should state the “who, what, when, where and how” of the story. The balance of the release should back up the claims made in the previous text.
  • Overall, write the body copy compactly and stick to the facts. Do not use over-blown words or phrases such as “world class.” Write like a journalist – never use “I” or “we.” Quotes from individuals add interest.
  • Media releases should never exceed three pages and if you can say it in much less, do so. If you are sending out hard copy, make it double spaced so that editors can mark it up.
  • Be sure to include one or two paragraphs with information about the core business of your company, perhaps under the title, “About ABC Company.” Also, whenever possible, include your company name in the headline, the subhead and body copy for better visibility by search engines and readers.
  • Add contact information for which your website may be the most important item, but be sure to include the official name of your company, full address, telephone, fax, and the name and email address of the person who could supply further information.
  • End a release by centring three number sign (###) symbols after the last line of the body copy (the journalistic standard).
  • Today, the best way to send your releases is likely by email. The release should be in the body of the email, with minimal formatting so it is easiest for the journalist to use. If you must send an attachment, do it in Word (.doc is better than .docx). Use your headline in the subject line.

Now the challenge is to get your message broadcast. If you know the names of the publications that you are targeting, you may find the email addresses of the key persons on their websites. CAMESE member firms can benefit from the CAMESE media list with over 100 mining publishers worldwide.

Finally, consider a follow-up call to critical publications, particularly those in which you advertise. Such a call could turn a news release into a full story.
Jon Baird, managing director of CAMESE and the immediate past president of PDAC, is interested in collective approaches to enhancing the Canadian brand in the world of mining.

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