What’s it all about?

We had quite a good turnout at networking this week – to no surprise! Gaining newsroom insights from the like of Mary Murtagh is an incentive and a half!

Did you know a full-page ad in the Evening Standard can cost around £57,000? No, us neither. It might be effective for big companies, but most SME’s don’t have that sort of money to spend on advertising. Thankfully for them, there are other ways to get coverage. If your company is newsworthy, you may be able to get free publicity instead.

After 15 years as a newspaper and video journalist both in the UK and US, Mary moved to consultancy and training. In fact, she says about 50% of the work she does nowadays is training. Many SME’s are incredibly newsworthy but just don’t know how to capture their story, which is where Mary comes in.

Seemingly banal things such as pruning tools for tree surgeons (attendee Samurai Saws) can become instantly newsworthy when looked at from the right perspective. The ‘saws’ are imported from the ‘Sheffield of Japan’, creating an interesting link between what this Lancashire-based business offers and competition from the well-known steel area Sheffield. So what spin can you give your business?

Mary’s Top 10 Tips for Getting Your Press Release Read

When she left the newsrooms, Mary took the wisdom of her peers with her. Asking around 80 journalists about their pet peeves, she was able to distil their wisdom into what she dubs her ’10 commandments’.

We’re not going to include any extra detail for these, as Mary goes into more detail in her workshop, but even at a glance these tips can be used straight away:

  1. Tell us what your story is about
  2. Answer: who, what, where, why, how, when
  3. Make it easy to read and jargon free
  4. Include a relevant quote
  5. Don’t waffle but give enough info to go on
  6. Provide a contact number, preferably mobile
  7. Suggest an introduction
  8. Use notes to the editors for background info
  9. Address it to the right individual
  10. Explain why you’re sending the story

Q & A

Is it worth sending hand-written letters to journalists?

It is novel, so might be effective, but it creates a lot more work for the journalist. They can’t just copy and paste it!

Did you always want to be a journalist?

Yes, I’ve never wanted to be anything else.

How do journalists select expert speakers?

2 ways.

Sometimes speakers are chosen from being top-of-mind: they do a really good interview and just happen to be relevant for the next story, and the next one, and the next one…

Otherwise, you can also hand out business cards and make sure people know you’d love the opportunity to work with them again.

Is it best to copy a press release into the email or attach it as a word document?

For me, it’s best to attach it as a word document. Putting it in the email can make it harder to read on some devices and software. I haven’t had any complaints about attachments yet, so I must be doing it right!

When filming news stories, who puts it all together?

Producers do the news gathering. They’re the people you want to impress as they choose what is and isn’t a story.

Want to learn more?

Mary offers a half day course on how to do your own PR, amongst other topics. You can find out more on her website.