How To Write A Press Release That Gets Noticed

As much as the media seems in a state of flux these days the one thing that remains is the need for an organization to disseminate it’s story. Despite the many options via social sharing, the one stable constant is the press release. Proper usage of the press release, remains paramount to get the media’s attention.

While it is rare that a media outlet will use your press release verbatim you can be sure that not following the standards will get your press release tossed into the trash.

In the 25 years I worked in radio, it was a daily task (or toil) to go through the press releases I received. I would often make snap judgment calls because I just didn’t have the time, sometimes without even opening the envelope or reading the email.

Press Release Guidelines

Here are the guidelines you should follow to assure your press release will get noticed and more importantly get your organization noticed:

  1. Keep it to one page – The point of the press release is to peak the interest of the media outlet, writing your entire life story isn’t going to do the job. It will bore them if they even read it at all. Give them one basic thought or idea and a call to action for more information. That’s it.
  2. Use proper formatting – As a broadcaster/reporter rushes through the day’s pile of press releases they need to see what they expect to see in a scanable way. Make it easy for them by including these  9 elements:
    1. For Release Date – right at the top of your press release, is the release date or time. Sometimes there is a reason to withhold information until a certain time, mark that date and time here. If it’s for immediate release mark it as “For Immediate Release”.
    2. Contact Information – put your name and contact information right below the release date info. Make it easy to contact you to get more information or to set up an interview. Use the heading “For More Information”.
    3. The Headline – is by far THE most important part of the press release. Without a good headline, no curiosity will be generated to dig deeper into the story. Write several headlines, come back to them later in the day and see which one grabs your attention the most.
    4. Dateline – is what goes just before the story. Put the location and the date of the release, followed by a dash (-) and then begin the body of your release. It can be bolded or put in between brackets but should stand out as not part of the story.
    5. First Paragraph – now that you’ve hooked them with your headline, tell them what you’re going to tell them in the first paragraph. Don’t get flowery with your writing, tell them the facts to support your headline. More details will come in the second paragraph. Beyond that let them contact you for more information. Remember this release needs to be one page only.
    6. Quotes – beyond the headline and the first paragraph include quotes from the important people around your story. Put simply, quotes bring the story to life by putting real people into the action.
    7. A Call to Action – should fall to the bottom of your content as a final push for them to contact you for more information or to setup an interview with you or with the personality of the press release. Whatever you do, do not hype your organization here. The point is for the reader to take ‘action’ like visit the website for more information or contact you. Hyping or selling here will get you tossed.
    8. The Boilerplate – is a concise paragraph about your company. It’s an old newspaper term to describe a “block” of text that would be used over-and-over again. 2 sentences should suffice.
    9. End of Content Marker – (# # #) is an old print media sign that there is “no further copy to come”. Other ways to mark the end is:  -30- , XXX (Roman numerals for 30) or simply -END-. There is no logical reason to include these today, but can be seen as a respectful tip of the hat, signaling that you know what you’re doing and can be trusted.
  3. Send it to the right person – Know your audience. Sending a press release about your new fleet of trucks to a light rock music radio station will get tossed and a guarantee that anything you send after that won’t even get opened. Build your media list carefully and diligently remembering that people change jobs. Keep it up to date.
  4. Follow up – Wait a day or two after you know the press release was received and send an email or make a phone call to your list. See if they have any questions or would like to set up an interview. Don’t ask them “did you get it”…”did you read it”. The key here is to be a resource to help them do their job. Think of it as a partnership.

Include Pictures

If you’re dealing with print media, you may want to include a link to high res pictures they can use.

NOTE: If you’re looking for wider distribution than just your local market I suggest using PR Web. In a head to head comparison with eReleases done by Soulati Media, PR Web was found to give greater online exposure.

Bottom Line: Mastering the art of the press release will give you the media canvas you need to build your organization’s brand identity.

How to Sell Your Voice Over Services, Without Selling Your Voice Over Services

How to Sell Your Voice Over Services, Without Selling Your Voice Over Services

Well, I think it’s safe to assume that not every voice over artist is a great salesperson. I think that one of the reasons that I’ve been able to be as successful doing voice over is because I’ve learned to sell myself without “selling” myself.

About a year ago I read an article online written by Lee McIntyre at the website and everything that he wrote rang true with what I’d been doing all along. So to help you toward becoming a successful voice over entrepreneur here are his three steps to selling yourself and landing that new client. I’m going to explain each one of these in just a minute:

  1. Listen more and talk less
  2. Diagnose before you prescribe
  3. Stop being attached to the result

OK, so number 1, listen more and talk less. It may sound counterintuitive for a voice person to talk less at this stage of your sales process but being quiet and listening to understand what the client needs is the first thing to do. So don’t talk…listen.

The only reason that you’d need to talk at this first stage is to ask questions, to clarify those answers and to parrot back what the other person is telling you to show that you “get it”. This is what we call the “feedback only stage.”

The client will invariably perceive you as being very attentive, which you are and will then be ready to get your input.

Step number 2 is to diagnose before you prescribe. Like every good doctor, the next step is to diagnose what the client’s situation is, to hold up a mirror to them to help them see what’s really going on with their project and what their goals really are. You need to diagnose or define the reason they got in touch with you in the first place. You can help them bridge where they are with their project and where they want to be.

I guess as a side effect of this step you are creating value in the prospect’s mind, that you are more than just a voice person but a partner in their success.

If you want to understand what I mean about creating value, you can check out the podcast that I just did which is at the link just below this video. (or here)

And then there is step number 3, stop being attached to the results. Rejection really is a terrible thing and as voice over artists, we’ve learned to do our best when auditioning but understand that we won’t get every job we try out for. Well, the same thing goes for selling.

Whether the prospects at this point sounds like he’s sold on hiring you or that he wants to think about it and get back to you….the natural reaction in both cases is to start pushing in your favour. The more you push, the more your prospects will resist.

Either way at this stage you need to say relaxed, positive, calm and detached.

Let the prospect make the connection between his needs, which you’ve defined earlier and what you can offer.

What I’ve learned and what Lee points out in his article is that the more you resist them, the more they’ll come to you!

It sounds kind of crazy, but more often than not this is true.

BOTTOM L!NE: Selling isn’t the easiest thing to do but if you follow these three steps I believe that you’ll find it easier to close more sales.

Be the Frame Not the Picture, Reversed

In my voice over for advertising workshop, I talk about the difference between doing the voice over for a TV commercial and the voice over for a radio commercial. Simply put, in a radio commercial you are the picture, in a TV commercial, the voice over is just the frame and you need to perform the script accordingly.

Today however I discovered a TV Promo for the Lifetime Networks program Knocked Up that turns that on its head.

Put together by Anthony Gelsomino, Creative Director at Cause + Effect this brilliant audio play sets the stage for the series in 30 seconds flat.

This promo is what radio commercials should be; authentic, engaging storytelling. You can eliminate the visuals entirely and still get the message across.

As a voice actor, it’s important to understand the context of a commercial script. Your approach should be different depending on the way it will be used.

BLATANT PLUG: If you’re interested in learning with me, get on the waiting list for my next Voice Acting for TV & Radio Advertising click here.

How to Prevent A Cold by Drinking Honey and Lemon

How to Prevent A Cold by Drinking Honey and Lemon

How to Prevent A Cold by Drinking Honey and Lemon

My work as a full time voice over talent depends on my voice always being in shape to work. More often than not, especially during the winter months, friends ask me what I do if I catch a cold. The short answer is, I don’t.

I do have a few tricks up my sleeve in the unlikely event that I do catch a cold, but the best defense is to sidestep them. Notice how I don’t say “eliminate” a cold because the common cold is, well, common…and impossible to entirely eliminate. But imagine if you could lessen the severity of a cold when you do get them.

Introducing this little concoction that my wife and I have been taking every morning for the last two years.

Here’s What You’ll Need

  1. Hot Water
  2. Fresh Organic Lemon
  3. Organic Honey

Why Organic Lemons?
Organic lemons are smaller, more juicy and don’t have any chemicals in them. I also feel that the medicinal component of organic lemons is more potent.

Why Organic Honey?
Most off the shelf honey is filtered before it’s bottled to get rid of impurites in the honey. Unfortunately, by filtering the honey it also takes out the component of organic honey that will boost your immune system.

I am far from a health food, granola type but trust me when I say that using organic lemons and honey is the key to the success of this drink.

How Much Is Enough?
Depending on how juicy your lemons are you’ll want to use a quarter of a lemon…you need about a table spoon of lemon…squeeze that into your cup. Lemon is a powerful antioxidant, it protects the body and strengthens the immune system.

Then squeeze out about a table spoon of honey into your cup and top it with your hot water.

Make sure your honey gets dissolved into the water…stir it up to be sure.

How Often?
Drink this first thing in the morning, every morning before you eat your breakfast to make sure it gets straight into your system and starts doing it’s thing.

Do this every morning and you’re sure to survive cold season unscathed. If anything you’ll find that if you DO catch a cold it’s not going to be as severe.

As easy as that, you now hold my secret weapon in fighting off a cold!

Try it out and let me know how your did in the comments below!

Do You Have the Successful Mindset for Voiceover?

One of the things I teach in my course and to the voice over talent that I coach one-on-one is how to get into the right mindset for success.

As strange as it sounds, most often the one person that stands in the way of your success is you…in the way that you think…and sometimes it takes a shift in mindset to get YOU out of the way so you can be successful.

One of the shifts you need to make is to stop seeing your voice over service as valuable….and start to see YOU as the PROVIDER of the service as THE valuable part of the equation.

Think about that.

YOU are the thing of value…not the voice overs that you do.

You bring your expertise, your talent and your training to the table everytime someone hires you for a job.

When a client hears your demos, likes them and points to something you did in one of them and says I want THAT for my project…they’re NOT buying you…they’re buying THAT voice over.

Because as you know every job is unique and requires your expertise, talent and training to help that client communicate their unique message.

Did you ever hear the now famous William Shatner voice over session where the director who was doing his job the way he usually does it, gets taught that lesson by William Shatner?

The client had hired William Shatner because he wanted William Shatner to voice the commercial…unfortunately, the director thought they had hired just “a voice”….and treated him that way.

Now you might say, “well, David I’m not William Shatner”…to which I’d point to as proof that you’re in the wrong mindset.

As you do your marketing to get new prospects you may be selling the wrong product. Look at your website. Look at the marketing materials you send out. Do your prospects gain an insight into you and your expertise …or just into your voice over services?

Stop selling voice over to prospects….START selling YOU.

One of the best things is that when people start buying YOU(?)…you can charge more…but that’s for another lecture, on another day.

Go get ‘em!