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Turning the power of the press to your advantage.

Turning The Power Of The Press To Your Advantage

The power of the press. Ah, it's an awesome thing. As those of us in the shooting industry know too well, the press can sometimes be responsible for all manner of hardships and for the dissemination of very damaging misinformation. On the other side of the coin, the press can also provide a business with a very valuable and affordable avenue of promotion. The fact is, the press is always hungry for newsworthy items of interest. Local newspaper editors, and even radio and television news directors are often desperate for bits and pieces of local news to pass along to their readers/listeners/viewers.

If you're a smart, aggressive retailer looking for an inexpensive way to keep your store's name in the public eye, learning how to take advantage of that knowledge can be a big feather in your cap. In whole or in part, occasionally or frequently, the press will use press releases pertaining to local retail businesses. All you need to do is learn the correct procedures for writing them, then directing them to the proper people.

When should you consider sending a news release?

Anytime you're planning a special event or promotion like a grand opening, anniversary celebration, hunting clinic or contest (but not a sale); anytime you, your business or one of your employees has received an award or special recognition; anytime you've committed to sponsorship of some major event or participation in a philanthropic cause; or anytime you've hired a new employee or promoted an existing one. In short, anytime something happens which might be considered outside or beyond your ordinary daily business routines, you probably have all the reason you need to draft and mail a news release. It might not merit front page attention, but even if it's just a few lines buried at the bottom of the obit page, it's one more chance to keep your name in front of people. Believe me, somebody will notice it and remember it.

To whom should you mail your news releases?

First, make a list of all the news media within your retail trade area -- daily, weekly and suburban newspapers, radio and television stations, and metropolitan magazines. If your area is served by any regionally-published outdoor magazines or if a big city newspaper several miles down the road publishes a special regional edition for your part of the state, include those on your list, too. Next, get on the horn and start asking for names to whom specific types of releases should be sent. People-oriented and business-oriented releases pertaining to achievements, appointments and awards will probably be directed to a business editor, city editor, news or assignment editor. Outdoor editors, hunting and fishing columnists or sports directors will most likely be the recipients of releases which announce special activities, winners of hunting contests and so forth. But be sure to call and ask, because every newspaper, radio and television station is different. And be sure to get names, not just titles. Never address a news release generically to the publication. That's the quickest way for it to end up in the circular file rather than in print or on the air.

How does one go about writing a news release?

These simple guidelines are pretty basic but important, nonetheless:

1) Keep it brief, to the point, and don't be wordy.

2) Keep it newsy. Just state the facts without editorializing. And save the literary genius for your first novel.

3) Make your sentences short.

4) Avoid highly technical language and two-dollar words.

5) Follow all commonly accepted rules of grammar and punctuation, and double-check the spelling of all words -- please!

6) Type your release. If you use a computer, print them on a letter quality or laser printer -- do not use dot matrix.

7) Use company letterhead whenever possible.

8) Double-space your releases and leave extra-wide margins on both the left and right so editors are able to easily edit and make notes.

Piece of cake, right? Well, there is just a little bit more you need to know, like how to format your press release and what information to include in it. You don't really need an advanced degree in journalism if you just follow these simple suggestions:

1) Identify your correspondence as a NEWS RELEASE right up front.

2) Provide the editors with a time value and/or suggested release date so they know whether or not there's a sense of urgency.

3) Provide the editors with a contact name in case they have additional questions.

4) Use an attention-getting headline that capsulizes the whole release by telling exactly what the release is about.

5) Your opening paragraph should include all the critical information: WHO...WHAT...WHERE...and WHEN. It should be complete enough to be able to stand by itself if it's the only paragraph to be read or printed.

6) Use additional paragraphs to fine tune the essential information by giving a few more details.

7) Try to confine your release to one page. But if a second page is unavoidable, conclude the first page with the single parenthesized word "more" centered at the bottom of the page. Then, start the second page with a single parenthesized title that lets the editors know it's a continuation of page one. For instance, if your release deals with a grand opening, the top of page two might read: (Smith grand opening -- page 2). That legend may be either centered or flush left, as you choose.

8) Conclude your release with the simple word "end", centered a couple of lines below your last line of copy. Or, if you really want to impress the bejabbers out of an editor, substitute the number "30". That's just newspaperese for (you guessed it) "the end". They'll think you're a real practicing journalist. (For a good working news release format, see the sample provided with this column.)

Just a couple of final bits of advice about press releases. First, whenever possible, send a good quality black and white photograph with the release. Attach a suggested caption to the back of the photo at the bottom either with a sticky white label or with white paper and transparent tape. Do not use staples. Editors are usually more prone to publish news releases with supporting visuals than ones without. As far as choosing the correct timing for a news release, I generally suggest that most releases pertaining to people, achievements or awards be sent as soon as possible after the fact. Special event releases should be sent no sooner than four weeks and no later than two weeks before the event is scheduled. If you've given away door prizes or a major piece of merchandise, it's a good idea to send a follow-up release immediately after the event, accompanied by a black and white photo of the winner receiving his prize.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Publishers' Development Corporation
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:gun retailers promotion
Author:Grueskin, Robert
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Jul 1, 1990
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