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An introduction into the world of Public Relations

Introduction
" One favourable paragraph or very short story can be worth a whole page of advertising. "

It's a fact that editorial attracts more attention and can yield a far greater response than advertising. This guide aims to give a basic introduction to the principles of media relations and demonstrates how you can maximise your coverage in newspapers, television and radio. Many organisations employ specialist consultancies to assist with PR activities. But even if you manage PR for a small organisation, or have limited resources, you'll be surprised at just how much you can achieve working in-house, or with a PR support company, using the full range of PR services and distribution options available to deliver your news to the media, and beyond.

What is PR?

Have you ever wondered why some companies' stories appear in the media while others don't? Do you know the best way to go about achieving press, television or radio coverage? This guide does not set out to teach you everything there is to know about public relations, but explains the basics about how you can maximise your PR opportunities. In a nutshell, PR is about presenting a company and is products in a favourable light to the public. This audience could include existing and potential customers, shareholders, industry analysts and opinion formers, suppliers, distributors, staff, the local community and so on. While some of these "publics" are individually accessible through newsletters, meetings or direct mail, the press and broadcast media are the route by which you can reach most of your audience. But before you can get news into print or on air, you need to have a story that is newsworthy. Simple it may sound, but without a story of interest to newspaper readers, journalists won't be interested. Something that may seem of paramount importance to you and your colleagues may not be of the slightest interest to the world at large. The important thing to remember is that journalists are not paid to use material you supply. Therefore, you cannot dictate how much of the copy will be used, or when it should appear. Also, bear in mind that journalists are not short of material to use and only a fraction of what they receive will go to print, so your story must compete with others for attention and space.

PR vs Advertising

Many people confuse public relations with advertising, but there is a world of difference between the two disciplines. Advertising is destined to sell a product or service by means of eg. a TV commercial or newspaper advertisement, whereas the role of PR is to inform and educate by means of a whole variety of promotional activities which result in media editorial coverage. Listed below is a simple checklist highlighting the main difference between PR and advertising.

Advertising
Advertising is paid for by buying space in the various media available. Advertising is something a company says about itself. It can say almost anything it wants to as long as it does not infringe advertising codes or laws. With advertising a company has control over what and when it will appear. With advertising, you get as much as you pay for.

Public Relations
Editorial space is not paid for. It is only available on merit. PR is all about disseminating information about a company; correctly projected it will reach a wide audience. Editorial material is based on information that has been supplied or that the media has obtained independently. You have no control over what happens, so dont ask! The amount of space a paper or publication devotes to a story is purely an editorial decision. One favourable paragraph or short story can be worth a whole page of advertising - and its free.

Advertorials
Advertorials offer a number of benefits including guaranteed coverage, control and image enhancement. Research shows that advertorials do attract good readership. They can, however, prove expensive as you actually buy space in the publication. Unlike an actual advertisement, your information appears in the form of an editorial - usually in a highly visual format. You can command a high degree of influence over the content, both photographically and editorially. The publication, in close cooperation with you, will produce the copy to retain their editorial style.

Writing a press release

One of the most important aspects of PR is informing the public through editorial coverage. This is achieved by continuously supplying relevant, newsworthy information (and not what the client or employer wants to see in print) to the appropriate media, either by personal contact or by press releases. A press release is used to communicate information to the press and broadcast media. It is an efficient yet inexpensive PR tool, but care should be taken in the projection of the information given that the release will be competing alongside all other news material which flow into the offices of the media. It must be written in a from capable of catching the eye of the impatient news editor, copytaster or specialist reporter. When issuing your releases to the local media, don't overlook your local radio station. They are always on the look-out for interesting stories. And freesheets, which survive on a limited editorial budget, are also eager to receive newsworthy local news stories. Wherever you target your story, always ensure you're aware of the relevant copy deadlines, so that your material arrives on time. It's a fact of life that old news ends up in the bin. Ideally the releases should be tailored to the targeted media. For example, stories sent to the local press and radio stations should also have a local angle - the Yorkshire post headline on the Titanic disaster was "Leeds man dies in sea accident". The same story sent to trade publications would need to be targeted differently. Research shows that tailoring does improve the chances of publication. example of a Press Release...
Acme Laundry Service Limited 15 Somewhere Street Anywhere Nottingham Tuesday, June 20, 1999

Acme Laundry Announces Expansion Plans: 500 New Jobs Acme Laundry Service Limited is to expand its operations in the UK - the 200 million scheme will result in 500 new jobs with the company and hundreds more indirectly in the construction industry. Subject to local planning permission, the firm is to build new factories in Inverness, Dover, Exeter, and Durham. The target is to have them operational by the summer of 2000. Mr John Smith, Acme's chairman, said today: "These new plants are being built to keep up with the growing trends of the '90s - catering for the increasing number of one-parent families and the continuing increase in the numbers of mothers going out to work. We envisage work on the sites starting by the end of this year, which will be god news for local construction firms and their workers. Staff for the plants will be recruited early in 2000 so that they can be fully trained by the summer." Acme Laundry Service, which has its headquarters in Nottingham, was founded in 1903. The 20 existing factories in the UK employ 2,500 people. In the year ended March 31, 1999, the company had a turnover of 100 million and reported pre-tax profits of10 million.

For further information please contact: John Smith, Chairman Acme Laundry Service Limited

The 10 golden rules

Before you put pen to paper, think carefully about what you want to say, the audience you are seeking to address and, of course, the media to whom you are sending your release. The ten golden rules represent the priorities to bear in mind when putting together a draft, the main task being to answer all the questions in the reader's mind. The sample press release on the previous page is intended for the new editors of national daily newspapers, as it promotes a story of interest to a wide readership.

1 Always put the date at the top. 2 Start with a good, strong headline, supported by the essence of the story in the very first paragraph - what? 3 Place the company's name prominently in the opening section - who? 4 Demonstrate that the story is of local or national importance - where? 5 Give a brief indication of company thinking behind the new development - why? 6 Provide information on the time-scale of the news story - when? 7 Include an editor's note, with basic facts such as company background for recipients not familiar with the organisation. 8 Feature a contact name, brief them to take calls and provide further details 9 Support the name with a telephone, fax number, email and website addresses, if appropriate. 10 Above all, keep it short, informative, interesting.

UNLESS YOU FOLLOW ALL THESE RULES, YOUR RELEASE COULD WELL BE ONE OF THE 90% THAT END UP IN THE BIN!

The 10 classic errors

No matter how well written, your press release will not succeed if you fail to adhere to a few basic distribution rules. Danny Groom, News Editor at PA News receives hundreds of press releases every day. Below are some of the classic errors which he regularly encounters that could seal the fate of your release!

1 Address it to my predecessor 2 Address it to my news editor by his name but with my title 3 Make sure it arrives the morning after the event 4 Make sure it arrives the same day as the news conference 5 Send it after the Daily Telegraph has run the story 6 Send it after I've heard it on the Today programme 7 Start the release with "YOU are probably aware that X is the leading supplier of cogwheel sprockets in Europe." 8 Add at the end "for further information ring Deirdre Smith" who in fact isn't there this week, or is there but doesn't have any further information and can't get any. 9 Demand I send a cutting of any story which appears in print 10 Demand "when you have written the story, please check it over with us before releasing it"

Some style guidelines for news releases

You want your press release to form the basis of a news story in a newspaper or magazine. You should, therefore, write the release as it would ideally appear. All nationals and major regionals will always rewrite to make the release fit their own style. But, a good release will go unedited into smaller regionals and trade journals. If, however, the release is pure propaganda puff, and could not be published as it is, a news editor is more likely to bin it than rewrite it! Your approach, therefore, should not be "how do I write a press release?" but "how do I write a news story?" Every newspaper has a 'house style' book - a set of guidelines for its journalists to follow. Below is an extract from the introductory section from the FT Style Guide which serves as an excellent guide for writing press releases. Try to answer the questions of who, what, where, why, when and how much within the first three paragraphs of a story. Make every word count. Use short simple sentences and short words rather than long ones. Make one striking point in the opening sentence of a story, ideally using 14-20 words, not more than 25. Prefer the active voice to the passive, the transitive verb to the intransitive. Prefer the full stop to other forms of punctuation. Use 'and' and 'but' sparingly at the start of sentences and, especially, paragraphs. Keep paragraphs, particularly the first, to no more than about 40 words. Avoid using the same opening word in successive paragraphs. Remember Fowler's contention that the paragraph is a unit of though not of length. Write in the language of everyday speech, not that of politicians, lawyers or trade unionists. Use English words to foreign ones unless no accurate equivalent exists. Explain anything the readers may not understand. Do not let your own opinions invade a news story. Do not tell the reader what to do or think. Explain early in the story the function of the organisation/s you are writing about. The writer should do this, the sub should not have to. Keep abstract nouns to a minimum (situation, condition, problem) and consider whether words such as 'really', 'however', and 'for instance' are needed. Do not ascribe eyesight to months ('next month should see an improvement in the figures'). Such vaguely metaphorical terms can always be avoided. Give words a precise meaning. Be accurate in the use of quoted matter, especially in headlines.

Some style guidelines for news releases

Remember what part of the paper you are writing for. Phrases and abbreviations that may be acceptable in the financial and markets section may need fuller explanation in the news and features pages. Do not pepper our stories with too many acronyms; they are a visual distraction and are often unnecessary. Remember that two-fifths of FT readers live outside the UK. Therefore, avoid the words 'we' and 'here' when referring to the UK; also with the seasons of the year and points of the compass. Bear in mind the possibility of libel and send a story to the lawyers if you think there is a risk.
Thanks to the Financial Times for the extract from "Financial Times Style Guide" Published by FT Management

Press briefing + interviews

Be sure of your facts


If you plan to make claims about any product or services, make absolutely sure beforehand that what you say cannot be successfully challenged, otherwise both you and your organisation will appear unprofessional to journalists and you will create a bad impression for the future.

Be available
Someone who is rarely available to journalists will obviously never get a word in print or on air. Furthermore, if you are never "available", you will just irritate the media. On the other hand, avoid answering "off the cuff" and never agree to a spontaneous question and answer session on the telephone. Take the journalist's number, promise to call back - collect your wits and make sure you do call back within minutes. For live interviews, prepare responses to the questions you are likely to be asked.

Know your brief and stick to it


Most journalists are simply after the facts. Brief yourself thoroughly before talking to the journalist and have all the facts at your fingertips. Don't ramble or drift off the brief and never offer those "juicy company titbits" which could overshadow the main message you are trying to get across in the interview.

Be there on time
If you've agreed to see a journalist or take part in an telephone interview, make sure you do so. There's nothing more infuriating for a reporter than being kept waiting. If you must cancel try and allow plenty of notice. Avoid sending a substitute who will probably not have your depth of knowledge and will be unable to conduct the interview with authority. The reporter is bound to feel short-changed. Interviews can go wrong. Remember the tremendous coverage skilled self-publicists, such as Richard Branson, conjure up from well-orchestrated interviews.

Don't "promote" company jokes


Remember Gerald Ratner's notorious "crap" remark? Contrary to popular belief he didn't say that all his products were crap, although that's how his remarks continued to be reported. In fact, he described his company's cheapest earrings as crap and said "They're cheaper than a Marks and Spencer's prawn sandwich but don't last as long." This throw-away line caused a sensation in the media and undoubtedly contributed to Ratner's subsequent business problems. Most companies have inside jokes about their products and personnel activities. Don't share the joke with the press.

Press briefing + interviews

Beware of the informal after-interview chat


The interview is only over once the journalist has left. If you invite a reporter to "stay on" for an informal lunch or a drink after the interview, be careful when chatting "off-the-record" as you might reveal just what the journalist considers to be the "real story". Talking off the record should always be treated with caution but once you start to build relationships with selected journalists, based on mutual need, then a mutual trust will develop. For example, if you are able to help journalists with an angle on another story, they will respect your anonymity as a source - it's in their interests to do so.

Don't take a hostile attitude


Try not to be hostile or lose your cool under awkward questioning. The journalist is just trying to do his job and almost certainly isn't trying to upset you. If he sees that you're rattled he might think you're covering something up and the interview is bound to deteriorate. If you really don't want to comment on a specific subject, say honestly that you do not wish to comment. Don't waffle and create a smoke-screen. If you feel the journalist is being abusive, complain - politely - to his or her editor.

Maintain regular contact with the press


It's probably in your own interest to foster some key relationships with the media as it can have a two-way benefit, but don't overdo it. No journalist wants to be continually pestered with offers of lunch if there's nothing to say. Choose your contacts carefully and nurture them. Only feed your contacts with newsworthy material and don't lead them up the garden path. And if you are known to be too close to one journalist, others may become unwilling to give coverage or air time when your story merits it.

Take care with embargoes


Many journalists like to see material "under embargo" as it gives them extra time to digest it and follow it up. Use the system to your advantage by briefing journalists in advance of publication, but emphasise strongly the embargo. Embargoes are occasionally broken, but editors generally honour them. And remember that some journalists don't like embargoes at all: they are not happy to sit back and let the "competition" run the story first: sometimes they will have obtained details from another source and regard the embargo as a muzzle. Embargoes should be used for the benefit of the journalist, and not the client.

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Press briefing + interviews

News conferences
Timing is of the utmost importance. Not only the time of day in view of the media being targeted, say evening or morning papers, but also for future planning. It can be beneficial to get an early entry in news editors' diaries, remembering that most editors hold weekly conferences looking at the week ahead as well as the routine daily events. Finally, before you call a news conference, ask yourself whether the story really merits it. You may be better off faxing or writing the story direct to news editors via PR Newswire.

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Media Training

Being confronted by journalists on the telephone, in person, on radio or in a TV studio can be a daunting experience which, if not prepared for, can show the interviewee in a less than favourable light. With media training you can improve your interview skills and gain practical advice and experience in dealing with awkward questions, helping you to take control, thus turning the situation to your advantage. If you, your client or colleague, are likely to be exposed to the broadcast media, it is essential to undertake specific broadcast training to introduce you to the workings of radio and TV studios and to the disciplines of brevity and vocal clarity. PR Newswire hold full and half day courses with interview coaching led by highly qualified tutors to help make the best of any TV or radio opportunity.

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Writing Features

The regional press and local radio have an increasing need for professionally written features which can be used with the minimum of re-working by their own journalists. Editors appreciate items which save time and money yet still offer a valuable contribution to their publication or programme. Editorial budgets are under constant pressure, and free material is especially welcomed by the underresourced weekly free regionals. Feature articles should have a particular theme, either directly or indirectly connected with the company's services, and generally should avoid using the company name more than once or twice. Don't cram them full of promotional copy - it has to be of genuine editorial interest. Popular topics are health issues, personal finance, environment, etc. And remember that on bank holidays and throughout August newspapers struggle for worthwhile copy to fill their columns. Feature articles are usually planned months in advance and are often themed around a particular event or time of year. PR Newswire publishes its own events planner every year which lists important days, weeks, anniversaries and sporting events which can help you plan the timing of your campaign for maximum media exposure.

Special Features
Another effective way of achieving coverage is to aim for inclusion in special feature supplements, e.g. personal finance, that your particular target media may run. Most publications publish feature lists well in advance, so it's worth obtaining copies of relevant lists at the beginning of the year to help you identify and plan material for the future, thus increasing the chances of achieving good coverage ahead of the competition. Your advertising department will probably have the information too in order to plan its media buying. If you can achieve good editorial coverage, the accompanying advertisement can be used as a response mechanism - or may not be needed at all! You can find details of addresses, telephone numbers and names of editors in the PR Newswire UK Media Directory. If you do not have feature-writing resources in-house, there are a host of specialist freelance journalists available. PR Newswire's own journalists can also assist with editorial writing and distribution advice. Working closely with you they can apply their direct experience and knowledge of newsroom realities and angle stories to greatly enhance the likelihood of publication. Features sent on PR Newswire News Network are transmitted simultaneously to more than 200 features editors in Britain and will automatically appear on PR Newswires website at www.prnewswire.eu.com. PR Newswire can also mail them to the weekly press.

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Taking a good PR photo

Pictures can often tell a story much better than worlds alone and if you send an interesting photo along with your release, you stand a greater chance of getting your story published. Here's a quick guide to using PR photos to your advantage. Firstly, think of yourself in the position of the picture editor. What will readers be interested in looking at? A dull picture of poor technical quality is bound to be rejected and editors complain they receive too many shots of Mr A and Mr B signing a contract - these go straight in the bin! To avoid this, plan the pictures you want I advance and write a list of each shot you want to end up with, including details of the backgrounds and props required. Next, make sure your photographer is well briefed, and organise all necessary props and backgrounds well in advance. Try to take a variety of shots so you have a range of different photos on the same subject for your photo library. This avoids having to send out the same old picture every time. PR Newswire can arrange for a professional PA photographer to take pictures for you.

Draw the subject matter out


It may sound obvious, but the photographer must draw the subject matter out. If you are taking a product shot, don't make the photo so busy, or the backdrop so complicated that it's difficult to make out what the subject matter is. Take care that the background will not merge with the subject when reproduced as a black and white picture. The colours may appear to be contrasting but could end up as one blur in a black and white photograph. Similarly, an interesting, light-coloured background could end up as a dull pale grey when produced in black and white.

The value of human interest


PR product shots should enhance the product to their best advantage and appear eye-catching. You can bring a product to life by adding human interest so that it catches the readers eye. If you have a cuddly toy, show it photographed with a child - it will make the shot far more appealing. (They say never work with children or animals, but picture editors love them.) Ideally, editors like to receive a variety of shots, so they can select the best one for their page. However, this gets very costly, so make sure that the picture you send can be easily cropped to fit all combinations of shapes on the page, such as landscape, portrait or square areas. But don't let the picture editor have too much scope for cropping the photo, because it could end up unrecognisable!

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Taking a good PR photo

More and more newspapers and trade magazines have the facility to accommodate colour photos now, so do take colour transparencies where possible. If you have a good colour transparency to accompany a product release then you stand more chance of it being used than if it is black and white. Be warned that a number of trade publications charge a small fee to cover the cost of colour separations, and although the PR industry has campaigned against this, it remains an issue.

Cost effective distribution


Incidentally, on the question of cost, rather than sending prints to 750 regional newspapers round the country, send half-tones: theyre a fraction of the price, but give editors a good idea of what is available and are often good enough for reproduction. Its also worth bearing in mind that photos can be sent over PR Newswires Picture Wire. Our high-speed satellite network transmits photos directly to 130 picture desks in Britain. Pictures can be sent with a brief caption story, or alternatively can be cross-referenced to stories or features transmitted over PR Newswire News Network.

Some final tips


If you are taking shots of people shaking hands or receiving a prize, avoid large gaps between them, or extraneous heads hovering in the background. Try not to have groups of people standing in a row. Bring movement into the shot, ideally making use of the products youre aiming to promote. When you take photographs to show how small a product is, such as a microchip, then have a coin or similar object in the shot as a scale reference. And dont send your latest product shot to the news editors of the nationals - they take their own pictures and generally dont use pack shots.

So, youve achieved all this and have some sensational pictures ready to send off. Finally, do make sure they are captioned and have a contact name and phone number printed or affixed on the back of every photo, as they will inevitably become separated from the accompanying text.

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Competitions

Local newspapers competitions present a novel way of promoting a company at relatively low cost. So why not contact your local press and try to get them to run a competition for you? Firstly, approach them with a format such as spot the difference; a crossword; questions with multiple answers; word grids, etc. Secondly, you'll need to negotiate the prizes. Prize value can vary according to the publication's circulation. Remember, the objective of running a competition is to get as many people entering as possible, so keep it simple and easy to enter. Once a competition has been agreed, write some short, snappy copy with appropriate details of the prize (which, ideally, will be one of your products - giving you the excuse to exploit its benefits!) In your covering letter to the editor, remember to attach answers on a separate sheet of paper and enclose any necessary artwork or photography. Don't forget to list the full details of the prize and total prize value. Once the competition has been judged, don't forget to arrange a photo shoot to maximise the promotional opportunity. It may be appropriate to organise nation-wide competitions. There are literally hundreds of local papers in the UK, so the most practical way of approaching this is to mail details of the competition, asking them to respond with their name, address and required prize value if they are interested. PR Newswire offers a cost-effective and efficient method of distributing this type of promotional material via our weekly Newspac service. The total cost of this service is less than the postage alone, and includes media selection, fulfilment, typing labels, media checklist and postage! Consumer magazines also welcome competitions, but will demand that the value of the prizes given to their readers is significant and will vary to the circulation of the magazine. You may want to consider using a fulfilment house for the receiving and handling of competition responses. PR Newswire offers a complete fulfilment service which includes competition handling, mailing services, order processing, telephone response and fulfilment.

For rules and regulations relating to competitions please contact The Periodical Publishing Association (PPA) on 0207 404 4166.

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Sponsorship

Sponsorship is a way of offering support, either financial or material, via some independent activity, not usually linked with the companys activities. Sponsorship can be categorised into:

Publication Sponsorship
Supplements Advertorials On the page

Event Sponsorship
Exhibitions Conferences Awards Sport The Arts Community interests Environmental schemes

Sponsorship can be less expensive method of reaching specific audiences than advertising and can be highly effective for achieving a wide variety of objectives such as increasing awareness, improving brand or company image, building relationships, creating opportunities for integrated communications campaigns, etc. However, care must be taken to ensure that the right message, image and values are promoted by the choice of sponsorship, and that it will be maintained and developed by other communications activities. And remember that while one particular audience may be attracted to a company or product through their sponsorship of their chosen pastime or cause, yet another audience may be alienated.

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Getting to know the media

The more you know about the media the easier your job will become. The main media categories are as follows: National Press Regional Press Freesheets Consumer Magazines Trade & Technical Publications Broadcast Media (Radio/TV) Internet

As each media sector has very different requirements, editorial material should be carefully targeted to match specific needs. A story that is of interest to the Bristol Observer, for example, will be more than likely end up in the bin if it is sent to a national newspaper or TV station. Precise targeting also has cost saving benefits, eliminating the cost of mailing your release to irrelevant media.

Broadcast Media
Radio and television newsrooms may produce audio and video output, but like newspapers and magazines they generally start from the written word. News editors and editorial departments receive and handle press releases in the same way that publishers do. At smaller radio stations, there may be no newsdesk as such, in which case individual programme presenters should be contacted direct. National news coverage is generally centralised: at BBC radio and television in London, ITN (for all commercial TV news programmes), IRN and Network News (which supplies feeds to almost all commercial radio stations) and Sky News. It is seldom worth sending a national story to individual stations and channels unless there is an obvious regional angle, e.g. where the national story is about an invention or technological breakthrough but the local angle may be on the person or factory which made it. However, often the most effective way to get broadcast coverage is to supply not the written word but audio or video material.

Radio
Local radio stations have for some years accepted radio tapes in the form of broadcast quality interviews with an expert, recorded in a studio with professional assistance. As you would expect, stations will use such tapes where the expert speaks with general appeal: a tape which

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Getting to know the media

mentions Brand X in every sentence will join that days poor press releases in the bin! PR Newswire maintains regular contact with local radio stations and with those programme presenters willing to take outside tapes. Alternatively, your experts can be interviewed live by several stations in succession, using a studio link direct to each station in turn. Thus a spot on the radio in Portsmouth can be followed minutes later by one in Leeds without the interviewee leaving their seat. PR Newswire run a studio and set up these link to targeted stations for a morning or afternoon session.

Television
The 1990s saw increasing use of the video news release (VNR). As the phrase suggests, it is a press release on video tape; but what television stations require is very different from the needs of radio. Ideally a VNR will contain around four minutes of footage, with a script that merely describes what is being shown. Usually, a further 20 minutes of more general footage, without a script, is added at the end. On no account should you include a spoken sound-track: your VNR will only be shown while the station's own reporter or presenter talks to his/her own script. VNRs are increasingly used to provide footage of new products, processes, factories, etc. Television is a visual medium. News stories of any length have to be accompanied by pictures. It is very difficult for a TV station to film your story and therefore your VNR will be much appreciated. Often, a story, which might only have been of marginal news value and thus the TV station did not send a crew to cover it, can still get into the TV programme after all if the VNR is timely and visually interesting. VNRs should not be confused with corporate videos. Companies will often produce a 25-30 minute sales-oriented film of an event or a development, mainly for internal staff consumption or showing to customers and prospects. Do not send this to a TV station - though it may be that the footage for the VNR can be largely edited from the corporate video. In the UK there are around 10 specialist producers of VNRs - PR Newswire can put you in touch with the companies best equipped to handle the details for your specific application. Distribution (on tape or via satellite links) is arranged either by the producer or by a specialist distribution company. You can also reach the whole of Europe (some 90 stations) and/or North America with a VNR.

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Getting to know the media

News Agencies
The main news agency in the UK is PA News (Press Association). It provides a services of general news and features, sports and financial news & results, plus photos, 24 hours a day. PA News serves all the national press and broadcasters, plus most of the regional daily and Sunday press with a feed via satellite into newsroom editorial systems. Getting PA News to cover your story will get you a long way towards widespread coverage. But remember that PA News is a news organisation: it will cover your story (rather than carry it) if and when it chooses, and the subscriber news organisations likewise can use a story if and when they choose. So PA News is no substitute for direct distribution. And even where PA News does cover your story, newspapers and broadcasters generally appreciate having the whole text of your release to hand as well, particularly if it has regional interest which will mean that some papers will want to give it more prominence than PA News did. PR Newswire News Network uses the PAs satellite network to reach the national and regional press and broadcasters, but this is separate from PA coverage: PR Newswire News Network stories appear on journalists screens clearly identified as press releases, with source and contact details appended.

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Accessing Media Data

Media Directories
There are over 12,500 publications and newspapers and some 800 broadcast media in the UK alone, so trying to establish which ones are relevant to you can be a somewhat laborious task. Directories are an invaluable aid to targeting the relevant contacts within each media sector. Successful media and investor relations campaigns rely on the accuracy of the media or financial data used. PR Newswire produces a complete range of media and financial directories produced from data gleaned by skilled researchers who maintain a database of information covering thousands of UK and European media titles and UK City institutions. PR Newswires research team make over 20,000 amendments to our database every week and between them have 12 languages at their command.

MediaManager
A PC-based media database like PRNs MediaManager will provide access to the most up-to-to the minute data with greater flexibility and functionality enables you to maximise the power and performance of your PR campaigns. More than simply correct contact details, MediaManager contains information on editorial interests and preferred method of receipt of press releases for individual journalists while for major titles, profiles on readership and editorial content are included. Designed for flexibility and ease of use, to suit individual work needs, MediaManager can be used as a stand-alone version or networked for a group of PCs. Its unprecedented range of features, such as part-word searching, automatic links and versatile clipboard functions, enables you to gather information and create lists within seconds. Without leaving your desk you can build mailing lists by selecting a range of criteria such as media category, circulation, frequency, correspondent type, TV region and geographical location. You can also use MediaManager to automate routine tasks such as printing labels and mailmerging your press releases. To save even more time, after selecting your mailing lists on MediaManager you can forward them electronically to PR Newswire, along with your press release, for immediate distribution via international newswire, e-mail, fax, courier or mail and the Internet.

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Distribution

There are a number of distribution options available to meet a variety of news distribution needs.

By Post
The traditional, inexpensive method of distribution for material which is not time-sensitive. Distribution should be timed carefully to allow for possible delays in the mail service.

By Hand
A quick, reliable and safe means of delivery for sensitive financial and corporate news to the City media and financial institutions, particularly where large amounts of documentation are involved. PR Newswire offers a unique hand-delivery service with a team of dedicated in-house couriers delivering news to media and City destinations every hour throughout the day.

By Enhanced Facsimile
Fax is increasing popular among PR professionals as a fast, cost-effective method of reaching a vast number of contacts within minutes - both within the UK and around the globe. However, editorial offices, especially the national and the main regional press, are inundated with incoming faxes, receiving up to 2,000 per day! You should be aware that in large editorial offices faxes do not always reach the intended recipient as fast as you would like them to. PR Newswires enhanced fax service allows you to fax direct to selected media contacts with automatic redialling and alert facilities. Depending upon individual campaign requirements the transmission can be programmed for day and night and full transmission reports can be provided.

By Wire
Transmitting text and pictures direct to journalists screens on their desk (now done via satellite but still known as wire because it used to be done via dedicated phone lines). Research indicates that wire distribution is generally the major media's preferred method of receiving news as it is delivered in a format which does not require re-keying and can be subbed on screen in a few minutes. It also by-passes the vast piles of faxes and mail they receive every day, and all the media will receive the story simultaneously. PR Newswires wire services are the only commercial wire services in the UK, with unique access to the Press Associations satellite wire services delivering newswire copy to more than 200 newsrooms around the UK in seconds.

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Distribution

By Internet
As the internet becomes more widely used, the world wide web provides you with the opportunity to maximise the exposure of your news release material at minimal expense. PR Newswire's website at www.prnewswire.eu.com carries all material transmitted on PR Newswires wire services as well as a selection of press releases sent out by PR Newswire on paper and fax on behalf of its clients. News releases can be identified with corporate logos and enhanced by hotlinks to the organisations own website. The website extends the reach of PR Newswires wire services to magazine journalists, freelance correspondents and staff working from home. It can be searched by company name, specialist subject area and date, allowing journalists who are working under deadline pressure or outside office hours, to gather background news o a company or product.

By email
Email presents the PR professional with an alternative method of directly targeting individual journalists. PR Newswires Email Distribution Service posts your news releases electronically, to addresses researched by us or to your own personal lists. While email remains new and relatively untried, do remember that: The targeted journalists may be out of the office that day and the news releases may not be picked up by colleagues. As email is a direct communications mechanism journalists will be extra-sensitive to badly targeted releases and being flooded by material. Many journalists use email continually, others may only check their incoming email a few times a week.

By NEWSdesk NEWSdesk is an internet-based news retrieval system for journalists. Over 15,000 journalists, analysts and consultant have free access to stories which they can filter by language, date, subject, geographical area and company. Organisations posting stories to the NEWSdesk web site can use the site to monitor which journalists are downloading their news.

By International
If you need access to the international media or financial institutions, PR Newswire can help you reach your target audience through its unique relationship with international news agencies and specialist distributors across the globe. Releases can be translated to more than 10,000 major newspapers and broadcasters in 135 countries and 22 languages.

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Evaluation

So, having sent out your press release or tape, are you going to sit back and congratulate yourself I all your hard work? PR success is measured not in activity but in results. So how do you find out how well you did?

Media Monitoring
Traditionally, clients - whether in-house or through their consultancies like to see cuttings of the press coverage they received. The main press cuttings agencies offer one or both of two distinctive kinds of service. An overnight service will scan the national and regional daily press for mentions of a company or product name. As the work usually takes place in the middle of the night as soon as newspapers roll of the presses, cuttings are usually faxed or delivered by hand before the start of the working day. It is worth remembering that agencies usually scan one or more designated reading lists: they will, in the main, not look specifically for your story in the media to which it was sent. For trade and consumer press and magazines, a general service is slightly more leisurely - in daylight. Readers scan a list of media and on a daily or weekly schedule will send you over the cuttings. For radio, the system works differently. Producers of syndicated radio tapes, including PR Newswire, will check whether the stations which received the tapes have used them, and will provide you with a report. For television and major radio stations, broadcast monitoring companies such as Tellex Monitors watch and record all the major news programmes. You can ask them in advance to look out for your story; or alternatively ask them to send tapes or transcripts of anything they pick up. Increasingly, PR practitioners offer evaluation services where cuttings are analysed and measured according to a number of key evaluation criteria such as: size of story, number of company or product mentions, location in paper - or indeed on the page - tone of story, appearance of specific messages or associations of the company or product with particular qualitative statements such as "Brand X, the market leader." Usually the data is then collated and presented in chart form using computer graphics. Of course, it would be easy to fall into the trap of measuring all media relations by the volume of cuttings. The work you do to ensure a company or product is known by the media and is viewed favourably can pay of in other ways. For example, if your target trade or consumer press view a company favourably, they are less likely to run a major piece on a customer complaint, design or safety problem without at least giving the organisation a fair chance to reply. If they know little or nothing of you, you run the risk of such a crisis situation going badly against you. So if your story doesn't get used, don't worry; it will have been read and digested, and the journalist will have your name and number to hand.

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What now?

If this guide has whetted your appetite and you wish to discover more about how PR can work for you, please get in touch.... PR Newswire Ludgate House 245 Blackfriars Road London SE1 9UY United Kingdom Telephone: +44 (0)20 7490 8111 Facsimile: +44 (0)20 7940 1255 E-mail: info@prnewswire.eu.com

Produced by PR Newswire 2001 PR Newswire Europe Limited

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