What Makes for a Good News Story?

Last week I posted about crafting a press release and promised to tell you what makes a story newsworthy. So here it is, what I learned in j-school!

PS I don’t recommend using press releases as your main form of communication with reporters and writers. Try contacting them with a unique angle relevant to the content they publish. Like I said last week, reporters are bombarded with press releases every day and prefer building relationships with their news suppliers.

My Tips for Crafting a Newsworthy Story

What makes a story newsworthy?

Timely Ness

Ask yourself, is this new and current or is it old news? News goes stale fast, so keep your angle fresh. Also, don’t release your news the day it’s happening. Find out from your publications how far in advance they prefer to receive notice, a month, two weeks, ten days, and then deliver. This gives them enough time to research, interview, and write your story.

Significance Ness

How many people are affected by this story? Frame your content in a way that will appeal to a broad audience. Or, what’s even better, get to know your customers + clients really well and submit your press release only to publications that they read. You can also suggest different angles to your story to different publications. Your daily newspaper will have a different interest than your weekly magazine or an online lifestyle blog.

Proximity Ness

How close is this news happening to the publication? Stories that are near have more value because the readers can relate. However, if your product, event, story is unique, useful, and accessible enough, for instance an ecourse or etsy product, this barrier is easily broken with today’s technology. Still, a publication based in your hometown will be interested in your story for its proximity, so try using that angle!

Prominence Ness

Did you get a celebrity involved in your story? Yes? Wow, you’re amazing, can we please be friends? Celebrities have a category all their own. News is more interested in new Will + Kate baby than they are about your new niece. Sorry, I’m sure she’s adorable, but it’s true. If you can get a celebrity endorsement you’ve already got news baby. Hint :: Try starting with a local celebrity or reach out to an influential blogger.

Human Interest Ness

Does your story evoke emotions? Human interest pieces break all the rules. These stories are told to capture our hearts. They can be sad, happy, funny, terrifying, courageous. Tell a story in your press release. Appeal to the senses. If you make a reporter laugh, cry, grimace you’ll probably get a call.

One more little tidbit

Give different reporters unique angles and exclusive information, they’ll love having a story their competitors don’t have.

Was this info helpful? Do you use press releases in your marketing rituals? Let me know in the comments below!

How to Write a Press Release

I went to this great event last week with the Arts Agenda hosted by Laura Murray Public Relations. They held a panel of three prominent journalists in Vancouver who gave their tips on how to pitch to the media. That got me thinking to share my tips (+ a few things I learned at the workshop) on how to write a press release to get your art + business noticed.

So, got an event you’re trying to promote? A brilliant new accomplishment? A stunning addition to your shop? Why not try and hustle some free advertising with a press release!

There’s just one problem. Reporters are bombarded with thousands of press releases every day. Boring, drab, colorless fact sheets. So how do you get to the top of the pile? Hint: it’s not with scented, floral-bordered, pink paper.

Five Tips for How to Write a Press Release

How to Write a Press Release

1. Catchy headline.

“My store is having a huge sale” is not a catchy headline. Nor is “I’m having a huge event.” It may sound great to your customers, readers, and followers who are already invested in your company, but to a reporter it’s “so what?” Which is exactly what you need to ask yourself when coming up with a catchy headline. “So what?” Focus on what makes your sale or event special.

2. Know your publication.

Do some research to find out who the editor is at the publication you are reaching. Craft individualized pitches to each reporter with a story that fits their audience. Include a note in your email that tells them why their publication is the best platform for your story. Use their name if you know it, and do your best to find it out if you don’t.

3. Quality images

If you’ve got a handle on photography, include images with your press release. Images immediately bring interest to an article by drawing the reader in. When you incorporate photography in your press release, it not only adds interest to your piece, but saves precious time for those busy reporters.

4. Be Punctual.

Reporters are crazy busy people. If you want to get your press release covered, then you’ve got to give the reporter enough time (but not too much time!) to do your story justice. The general consensus is to send your first pitch about six weeks in advance. This will let the reporter have your story on their mind and in their calendar for the appropriate time. If you don’t hear back, it’s okay to email them again with a reminder and maybe a little more information about the pitch. Don’t worry about pestering a reporter with your email, they welcome the reminder. Plus, they’ll let you know when enough is enough.

5. Use creativity.

Lastly, if you’ve got the vision, budget, and time, consider making your press release creative! Like this one. They not only made their press release interactive, but contacted each media outlet to make sure their creativity was welcomed. Nothing is worse than putting huge amounts of time and effort into something that’s just going to be trashed.

Bonus Tip

The age of traditional press releases has come to an end. However, some reporter still like to receive a properly formatted press release with all the details of your pitch. Did you know that press releases have a technical side to them as well? There’s a specific format we use. It’s also important to use proper grammar, syntax, and spelling. Reporters are writers. They like to read well-written prose. If writing isn’t your strength, consider hiring one! We are experienced in weaving words and spotting errors, and, here’s a secret, we love writing! (Most of us anyway.)

Remember: Make your press release newsworthy! Not sure what makes something newsworthy? Don’t worry! I’ll cover that in another post!

How to Sell Without Feeling Sleazy

Does marketing make you feel like a sleazeball? Do you cringe every time you have to “sell yourself?” Does the thought of putting a price tag on your work make you queasy?

You’re not alone. I used to be like you. I used to think sales were just for douche bags + sleazeballs. But I was wrong. Horribly wrong. Like, face palm wrong. That’s not to say there aren’t douche baggy + sleazeball ways of selling, but when you learn how to sell properly, you’ll feel sleazeball free!

So, my dear, I’ve collected my tips on how to sell without feeling sleazy.

How to Sell Without Feeling Sleazy

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Sell Without Feeling Sleazy :: Tip 01

Be confident in your product/service.

The first tip to sell without feeling sleazy is to be confident in what you’re selling. Chances are you’ve raved about stellar products you’ve used before, so think of your own product or service in the same way. You are doing yourself + the world a disservice if you don’t hustle your buns to sell what you believe in. If you’re not 100% behind your product than find a way to make it better. Up your customer satisfaction with some added bonuses and top quality content.

Sell Without Feeling Sleazy :: Tip 02

Talk in your own language.

You don’t have to take on the persona of a sleazy salesman to sell yourself properly. So, to sell without feeling sleazy, just talk to your customers as if you’re talking to a friend. No need for jargon or pages + pages of sales copy. Find what works for you and challenge yourself.

Sell Without Feeling Sleazy :: Tip 03

Perfect your elevator pitch.

An elevator pitch is a clear + succinct phrase that tells people who you are and what you do in under 30 seconds. Take some time to perfect yours so that you can sell without feeling sleazy. If you want to go deeper into learning to craft your elevator pitch, check out Jump, a digital guide for newbie coaches + creatives.

Sell Without Feeling Sleazy :: Tip 04

Listen.

Just listen to people + have conversations. Ask questions so that you can find out what your customers need so that you can serve them as best you can. The more you let others speak, the more they will reveal.


Want to learn more ways to sell without feeling sleazy? Sign up for Jump and learn the emotional and foundational aspects of starting a passion business.

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Social Media Automation 101

I’ve been thinking a lot about the pressure we as entrepreneurs place on ourselves to be engaging, fresh, and consistent on social media 100% of the time. While it’s important to establish credibility and consistency online, social media should not be your only venue for promotion, so you need to get a handle on your social media automation so that you can focus on your business.

social media automation 101

Get back those lazy days with my social media automation 101 tips!

To help you create your own schedule, here’s a behind the scenes look at my social media automation here at Stylings & Stories.

Social Media Automation 101

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1. Promote yo’ self.

The first way I use social media automation is for promoting myself and my business. For this, I use Hootsuite to promote my blog posts, services, and newsletter throughout my Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts. I schedule these posts a week, sometimes two weeks in advance to get my social media automation started.

2. Add some fun + funk.

With your social media automation strategy, you need to add in some fun, some inspiration, and some interesting articles that establish you as an expert in your field while also showing your personality online. Buffer is my favourite tool to do this. Basically, you set up a few times a day for each network you’re on, then add articles to your queue. Articles, quotes, and maybe post from your blog archives will be posted at the times you specified in your settings. I love this tool when I’m browsing the web, because I don’t have to specify a time, I just have to queue it up and it gets added to my social media automation.

3. Be present.

Social media automation needs to involve more than scheduling in advance. You need to be present on your channels to have real conversations with your followers that keep them engaged. I like to set up 20 – 40 minutes 3 – 4 times a week to be live on my networks. I use this time to post to Instagram and Pinterest, join discussions in my Facebook and LinkedIn groups, and reply to messages throughout my channels. It’s not something I can do every day, but when I can, I book it in my calendar, set a timer, and talk.

So those are the three things I do for my social media automation strategy. Remember, social media should not be your only tool for promotion, so you need to get a handle on it to focus on the rest of your business.

PS :: Are you overwhelmed by your social media responsibilities? Read this article I wrote for Design*Sponge. It tells you how to unshackle yourself from social media overwhelm!

Now it’s your turn. What is your social media automation routine? What do you struggle with most when it comes to social media automation?