Publicity means being surprising

One of the hardest ideas to get to grips with when you prepare a press release campaign is that publicity isn’t about promotion – it’s about being surprising. If you use it promote yourself, you won’t get publicity – you’ll get the advertising department selling you space.

So how do you get someone to be surprised enough to give you free editorial space? Give them a good story – a piece of news, something they didn’t know – and they’ll talk about it.

Give them a promotional blurb thinly disguised as a press release and they won’t even read past the first sentence.

Sifting out press releases that are nothing more than a plea for free exposure is second nature to editors and producers – they’ll simply bin your release or hand it to the advertising department who will call you and ask you to pay for exposure.

Fair enough – why would they give you space for free to promote your business when others are paying for it?

Why would they use valuable editorial space to promote you when it could be better used for news – something surprising?

So when you prepare a press release, think about that ‘something surprising’ – about how newsworthy your message is – and don’t be tempted to turn the release into a brochure-style blurb trumpeting every feature of your business in flowery language with lists of superlatives.

When you’re passionate about what you do, it’s hard not to talk ad infinitum about how fantastic your business is, and once you get started with a press release, you’ll probably find yourself doing just that. You want the world to know about you – everything about you and why they should pay attention to you. But if that’s your objective – advertise.

A press release should be informational only – a piece of news. It isn’t about you – it’s about the message and the audience it’s trying to reach. You’ll only reach them if you’re surprising.

The spin-off is that they will pay attention to you as well and want to know more. That’s when they come to your website and read all about every feature of your business.