I am getting excited ahead of my speaking tour later this month on how to turn personal knowledge into a million-dollar business. But people are still asking me who will benefit from my lectures. Is it for people who want to enter the self-help industry? Is it mainly for life coaches, mentors and prospective authors? No, this event is for anyone who uses their knowledges to make money, including business owners and consultants. For example, you might be a mechanic who owns a garage and you’d like to do more work on prestige cars. Then, you need to convince the community that you have this expertise – that you know all about luxury cars! Maybe you own a dog-training school – again you need to convince the community that you understand animal psychology. You need to monetize your knowledge, capitalise on your expertise.
To monetize your knowledge, you have to establish a credible profile. You must be a known entity in the community, if you want to grow an audience that is prepared to pay for your expertise. In two recent columns I looked at how to use social media (blogging and Facebook) and how to generate publicity through traditional media (newspaper, radio and television). To use both mediums effectively you must be able to write good content, especially media releases.
Media releases can be used in two ways. You can send them to journalists working in print, online, radio or television to attract interest in you or your ventures. You can also post the media releases onto your blog sites. Have a section on your blog, called the Latest News. Again, your aim is to position yourself as an expert in your field. If you have knowledge on a specialist subject, spot a trend and comment on it in a media release or announce important news about your expert field.
In my last column on generating publicity I did explain that journalists have a set of criteria when deciding on the news value of a media release. The criteria or news values are: impact, timeliness, prominence, proximity, conflict and unusual. If you write a media release to send to journalists or an article for you website, your copy must have some news value. Today I want to explain news values. Every journalist is taught the six news values (impact, timeliness, prominence, proximity, conflict and unusual) when studying media at university. The media release you write about yourself or your business must contain at least three but preferably more of these key news values. What do the news values mean?
- Impact: A news story with Impact is about a subject that will affect the reader directly, for example a bus strike or electricity black out. You might argue that your business has the cheapest prices in town, but a journalist would still not accept your media release as a news story. It is obvious that you are just seeking free advertising. The news release needs to contain other news values.
- Timeliness: Notice that news bulletins feature stories that happened today or yesterday. Your media release must address what is happening now, not last month, but timeliness on its own is not enough to make a subject news. For example I brushed by teeth this morning. That information is timely (it happened today!) but it is still not news worthy.
- Prominence: Stories about well-known people, places or companies attract the attention of journalists. Do you know a celebrity who might help endorse you or your business? For example if you own a delicatessen, is there a celebrity chef who’d be willing to do a cooking demonstration outside your business? If you are launching a book, is there a famous writer, actor or artist who might promote it? Do you have connections to any well-known people who might be able to help you raise your profile?
- Proximity: Journalists want to know what is happening locally. Make sure you send your media release to the local newspaper and community radio station. They are usually the most willing to use it. Remember the further away we are from a place, the less likely we are to hear about news there. The media doesn’t report car accidents in Denmark or crime in Canada. Australian journalists usually report on what’s happening in their home states.
- Conflict: Stories about people at war with each other get covered. Political stashes between the prime minister and opposition leader have conflict as a news value. Celebrity divorces, such as the separation of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie is a conflict story. Conflict is drama, but it is also negative press. Do not use conflict to attract media attention. It could damage your reputation.
- Unusual: An out of the ordinary event has news value. Dog bites man is not news, but man bites dog could be! A recent unusual news story is about a professor who was doing a live-cross with BBC television when his two young children burst into the room. Is there something very unusual about your business you could turn into a media release? I saw a TV story recently about a pastry cook who makes cakes to celebrate marriage and divorces. Did he send out a media release announcing he was making these cakes? The TV story featured shots of his beautiful cakes and would no doubt have increased his sales.
- Currency – flavour of the month stories: Some issues never go away. For example stories about high house prices in Australia have currency as a news value. Recently there have been news reports about expensive puppies being stolen. If you own a pet shop, you could write a media release about products to keep your dog safe from thieves. Are there kennels with CCTV cameras? A media release about such a product would definitely attract media attention.
Hopefully this explanation of news values will help you write a media release that is appealing to journalists. But remember, a media release also needs a great headline. It must be engaging and accurate. You will also need to write an interesting subject line when you send the media release to journalists. Journalists literally receive hundreds of media releases every day and they browse them very quickly. You only have a second to grab the journalist’s attention. Make sure your opening paragraph is the strongest. Journalists are exceptionally busy people and may only read the opening paragraph. Margaret Gee’s Australian Media Guide is a great e-book that lists contact details for every working journalist in this country.
The sentences in the media release should only be around 24 words. They need to be clear and simple. Ideally get another person to re-read your media release. Like a job application, you are not allowed to make even one spelling or grammar mistake in a media release. Include a quote in the third or fourth paragraph that you attribute to yourself and provide hard figures to back up any claims you make. Finally, include a mobile number on which you can be reached day or night. Your media release should be no more than one page long. Remember, stick with one idea per media release. If you have another brilliant idea, send it out in another media release the next week!