How *Not* to Pitch the Media

from CN8 at the Petco gas explosion.
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Hyundai stepping up. . thinking “out of the box” and getting great press

Hyundai announced the “Hyundai Assurance Program” that would allow a customer to return a purchased or leased vehicle within 12 months of purchase because of a loss of income. The buyback program allows customers to return the vehicle for a number of reasons including unemployment, becoming physically disabled even if they die accidentally.

This sounds like a bad idea from a financial perspective for Hyundai but, I think it is absolutely brilliant from a marketing perspective.  Hyundai has a history of thinking “outside of the box,” in the past they resolved reliability concerns with their ten year 100,000 mile warranty. There are several companies that have followed with similar warranties.

From a consumers standpoint there are some details of the program that are suspect.  For example, if you have to return the car, the dealer dictates the price that they would value the car which would cast doubt in my mind about this deal.

But, my gut is the “Hyundai Assurance program” will be duplicated by other manufacturers.  Time will tell.

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Press Release Basics – How to Write a Press Release

Are you preparing to launch a new product, or service? Have you recently, started using press releases? A well-written press release that is newsworthy can generate media exposure, new business, search visibility, web site traffic, and much more.

Writing a successful press release requires you to present your organization and your story with the perspective of news. Step away from the advertiser’s mindset and step into a journalist’s mindset. Cover the interests of your target audience and focus on why they care about your story. Journalists may publish a press release in entirety, but only when it reads like news.

Let’s go over the basics and then review a sample press release format. Following the standard press release format will increase the chances of having your newsworthy event being picked up by the media.

Basic Guidelines

When writing your press release use the inverted pyramid format, placing less important information further down in the release.

Structure your press release in block format by not indenting your paragraphs.
Review your press release and make sure it does not sound like an essay; it should be informative but appealing.

Keep your press release within 500 words; this should be enough to cover your news event and prompt people to take action.

Proofread your press release more than once. Step away after you are done writing and come back with a fresh set of eyes.

Writing a press release requires you to write a persuasive story that will compel journalists and consumers to take action. Our sample press release format is just a guide for the structure of a press release, but keep in mind that any story can be told from many angles. Try visiting the news sections of industry leaders Web sites or go to the newswires and see how others are telling their stories.

Press Release Format


Create an active and descriptive headline that will capture the reader’s attention. The headline should appeal to journalists as newsworthy.


Write a summary of your press release that helps clarify the headline, and describes what the press release is about..

Body (Answer the Where, When, Who, and What)

Lead Paragraph

City, State – Month Day, Year – Organization Name – Answer the “what” in the rest of this paragraph.

Include Quotes

After the first paragraph of the body it is a good idea to include at least one quote from an executive that discusses why this is an important news event. Add credibility to your press release; identify the people you quote using their title, and company name in addition to their name.

Answer the Why and the How

The second paragraph of the body should connect the first paragraph to more detailed information about the “why” and the “how” of the news event.

Additional paragraphs should contain supporting information, industry statistics, and quotes.

Call to Action

The last paragraph is where you can make a call to action. This is your opportunity to prompt your target audience to do something.

### (Use three number signs to denote where the press release ends)

Corporate Summary

Include a short summary about your organization.

Contact Information

Include the contact information of a person the media can follow up with. (Name, Company Name, Phone Number, E-mail Address, Company URL)

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Big Three CEO’s you stink at Public Relations

I was reading the NY Times (the real paper one) and GM had a full page advertisement on what they were doing to turn around their business and why they should receive a part of the TARP bailout.

All I could think of is the stories that are being circulated in the news media that each one of these CEO’s flew to Washington on their private jets to present at the Senate Sub-commitee for the bailout money.

What are you guys thinking!

Didn’t you or someone on your staff think this out? In your defense it may have made all the sense in the world. Lets face it your companies are in dire need of help and the more time you spend on the problems of your companies versus standing with the rest of us schleps in airport security lines may have made financial sense. You may have flown in a team of executive who made that trip via private jet cost effective.

But for the love of God did you think of the repercussions this would have when it came to your image; and the perception that you are trying to portray to the American people and other stakeholders who are trying to support you in this bailout.

Lets look back in history at the last bailout of an auto company in the US. (At around the same time Britain and Margaret Thatcher bailed out British Leland which in retrospect was an unmitigated disaster). Chrysler was bailed out by you and me (the taxpayers) back in the early 80’s. Lee Iacocca and the rest of the Chrysler executives knew a lot about the value of symbolism and a positive perception.

To put it bluntly, they were PR geniuses. Lee took a salary of a dollar. Presented a succinct and logical plan for Chrysler to exit their financial malaise. Lee went on TV and other media pitching the plan, his cars and why he was the man to lead this charge!  Man that guy knew how to spin it!

Guess what Chrysler, lived up to its obligations and paid back the US taxpayer all the money they were given before it was due.  Lee did what very few executives do in this day and age.  He under promised and over delivered.

Did Lee quietly have his CFO wire the money to the treasury. No way Jose!!  He personally delivered a huge check to the treasury in Washington ala Publishers Clearing house with Ed McMahon.

Talk about symbolism!! Lee your the man!!

So here is the advice I would give the master spinmeisters at the big three.

Fly coach, come up with a realistic plan to get yourself out of this mess, cut your salaries and be very aware of the perceptions you are portraying in the media.

Peace out

They are starting to listen!

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Top 75 PR websites good stuff

top 75 pr sites

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