Dan Janal is the author of Reporters Are Looking for You! and is a pro when it comes to getting exposure in the media. Dan has been involved in the public relations industry for decades, and he’s one of the earliest entrepreneurs to use the internet for marketing back in the 1990’s (he even wrote a book back then about online marketing).
Dan’s first career was as a daily news reporter. He won several awards for his newspaper articles in Florida, West Virginia, and New York. He was a business news editor for a paper just outside of New York City when he interviewed a guy who was an expert on every scientific advance since World War II. As it turns out, the man Dan interviewed was looking for someone to hire, and Dan was hired by his interview subject to do public relations for computer technology.
Dan did PR for K Pro and Commodore. He was also a member of the PR team that launched America Online. He introduced the CD-ROM with Grolier’s Encyclopedia, the first software for the CD-ROM product. He was also on the PR team that developed a strategy to introduce the first commercially available GPS. The majority of his professional life has been spent working online.
Dan works with coaches, speakers, and online entrepreneurs to help get them publicity on and off the net.
How the Internet Changed Public Relations
The Internet is the world’s largest printing press. In the old days, you would hire a PR firm, give them a lot of money, and their job would be to get your message printed in a major newspaper or on television. At the time, major newspapers and television were the only way to reach a mass audience.
It’s easy to reach audiences today 20 years later because rather than having two or three mass audiences, we have a bunch of micro audiences thanks to the internet.
How Modern Press Releases Work
Dan has a client who sells seats on corporate jets. His client will write a press release (or have Dan write one), and Dan’s company will submit that press release through various media distribution channels.
After the press release goes live on the various channels, people have news alerts set up on Google and other sites to pick up any news story on a corporate travel, and those news alerts will be triggered by the press release Dan’s company submits.
It would be great if reporters wrote about Dan’s client’s service. But in the Internet age you don’t have to rely on reporters to get your message out. You can communicate directly with your market through publicity or social media channels. It’s really a different world than it was 20 years ago.
It’s nice to have coverage in newspaper and television, but it’s expensive, and although it’s valuable, traditional media coverage is not strictly necessary today.
Now you can reach your audience without going to traditional media. A press release is a good strategy for most authors. Press releases don’t work as well for novels because novels are always hard to get publicity forth—they’re not really newsworthy unless they’re selling millions of copies.
But search engines have revolutionized the value of press releases. In the past, press releases used to have a shelf life. Now they exist forever.
When Dan was a newspaper editor he and his staff couldn’t even read all the press releases they were sent.
Now because of the Internet there are a number of newspapers, newspaper syndicates, and websites that will publish press releases. Google indexes all of these websites and when somebody searches for information on a topic, if you have a press release related to that topic, it’s likely that the person searching for information will find your press release.
That’s part of the secret sauce when it comes to press releases. If you use a legitimate press release source like PRnewswire.com newspapers will print the information.
If you use some of the free press release submission websites, your press release will simply be ignored by the major outlets.
How to Distribute a Press Release
If you need a refresher, be sure to check out Dan’s article on how to write a press release, which defines and explains in depth this important PR tool.
When you distribute your press release, these days it’s printed online where it becomes a searchable document. That allows search engines to connect people looking for information about your topic with you.
In the past, press releases used to be printed in newspapers and then forgotten the next day. The real benefit of press releases today is that they are searchable on the Internet forever, so they can help with your search engine optimization (SEO).
Publicity leads to more publicity. Recently one of Dan’s clients was contacted by a Boston Fox News affiliate after they searched for a Boston Elder Care Expert. Dan submitted a press release for his client that got picked up by the Wall Street Journal.
When the Fox News producer saw that Dan’s client had been printed on the Wall Street Journal website, they decided that he was enough of an expert for them.
After you distribute your press release, you can:
- Blog about it
- Talk about it on social media
- Put it in your sales kits
- Put it in your author kits
- Put it in your book proposals.
Dan had one client who was able to get a larger book advance because of his press exposure. Publishing houses are willing to spend more money on marketing when they know you know how the marketing game is played.
Publicity lasts forever. You can use the fact that your press release was featured in over 100 websites until the day you die. There is no statute of limitations on publicity. You don’t want to exaggerate your publicity, but you can certainly be honest about it.
How to Get More Exposure from Press Releases
The effectiveness of your press release is all about who sees the media. You need to make sure that your target audience sees your press release. Not everyone reads every single page of the Wall Street Journal every single day. There are several things you can do to make sure your target audience sees your message.
Send your publicity to your prospects. They just need a reason to buy from you. It takes 7 – 21 communications to convince prospects to buy from you. Publicity is just another excuse for you to stay in touch with them.
You can also send your press release, the results of your press release, or your existing media to your current clients. This is a way to show them that they are working with the best possible person.
In today’s world, your clients are one email away from working with someone else who is less expensive or has a different value proposition. Your publicity is another weapon in your arsenal to keep your current clients.
You can also send your PR to joint venture partners, publishers, and bookstores, so they know you’re promoting the book. This helps your teams to know you are actively working to promote your projects with them. If they see you as a good partner, then they’ll be more likely to want to work with you in the future.
It’s all about making sure that your message gets in front of your target audience as often as possible.
The good thing about the Internet age is that search engines make it possible for people searching on your topic to find you.
Tips for Writing a Good Press Release
Remember it’s not about you, it’s about your reader.
If your press release starts, “new book by Dan Janal” that’s probably not going to get you very far.
If your press release opens with, “Five Ways to Have Happier, Healthier Children. This book shows how.” That’s a much more interesting, eye-catching headline, that will get you more interest from your audience.
People also use press releases to establish a field of expertise.
So if you were a Supply Chain Specialist, your press release might start with something like, “Supply chain Specialist [your name] says this is the best way to…”
Newspapers don’t have news. They have articles their audience is interested in, along with a very little bit of actual news in the front to justify their designation.
The key to writing a press release is simply to make it interesting to the reader. When you’re writing a press release for a book what you want to do is focus in on the key learning points in the book itself.
Focus on the Benefits
What is the media going to learn from reading your book? What result is the reader going to get after implementing the strategies you lay out in your book?
When you write a press release you want to focus on answering questions that include keyword phrases. Usually, when people go to Google there asking questions anyway. If you can answer a question someone types into Google in your press release, chances are that folks will find your press release online.
“In anything you do in business or marketing, it’s good to think about the customer first. So a press release is a small answer, or a snippet of an answer, to a problem someone has that is interesting enough to be put in a newspaper.” – Tom Corson Knowles
How to Deal With the Press
If someone from a press outlet contacts you because of a press release, follow their lead. If they ask to set up a time to interview you, set up a time to be interviewed. If they ask you to answer some questions, you answer those questions.
Remember, reporters aren’t out to get you. They want to write stories that help their readers accomplish the task or lead happier, healthier lives. If you can give reporters tips that will help them do that, that’s all they’re looking for. So don’t be afraid of talking to a reporter.
When you talk to a reporter keep it short. Try to keep your answers to their questions down to one or two sentences because that’s usually all the space a reporter has. If you give a reporter much more than that, they’re going to have to edit what you said and they may use words that you wouldn’t use. If you keep your answers succinct and to the point, you’re much less likely to be misquoted.
You want to come up with the best, most unique information you have, and go with that. You can’t live in fear that someone’s going to steal your best ideas. If they’re going to steal your best ideas from a news article than they will probably steal your best ideas from the book you’ve written.
When you’re talking to a reporter, your goal is to get noticed. The only way that you’re going to stand out from the crowd is to give the reporter unique information that makes you different from the other authors on your topic.
“The less you say, the more control you have over what is printed.” – Dan Janal
Another benefit of doing a press release and getting publicity is reporters use the same sources over and over again because they have developed a relationship with these sources and they know they can trust the source for future news stories. So once you establish yourself in the media, you’re likely to continue getting exposure for many years to come.
How to Build a Relationship with a Reporter
Chances are if a reporter talks to you they’re going to use your material.
If reporters get 15 responses and they all pretty much look the same, the reporter isn’t going to talk to any of those people. If your information is unique you’re going to stand out from the crowd.
Deliver your information in a format they can easily use (quotes of 1 to 2 sentences.)
On your press release you want to have your direct contact information. A big mistake a lot of people make is to give a business phone number and not their direct phone number.
Reporters are busy people. You want to make it as easy as possible for a reporter to contact you.
If a reporter does contact you and use your material, use that as a relationship builder. You can say something like, “If you ever do another story on this subject again please keep me in mind.”
You can also let them know of other topics that you’re an expert on, so if there ever writing a story on that topic, they can call you.
Good content is the key to everything. If you don’t have a good story being persistent just makes you a pain in the butt. Reporters get, on average, 150 pitches for stories per hour.
2 Strategies For Beginning Your Publicity Campaign
- Start on a website like PRleads.com or HARO. This is a good option because you know on a website like that, there are reporters looking to write a story, and they don’t know who to quote.
- Determine the 5 to 10 magazines your target audience reads. Then figure out who covers your topic area in those magazines. Then follow them on social media. Develop a relationship with these reporters by commenting on the stories they write. If you feel you have something substantive to add to the story they’ve written, you can let them know politely in the comments on the blog post, or through email. Something like that will get you on the reporter’s radar screen.
This is becoming a more effective strategy as time goes on because reporters are speaking directly to their audiences through social media.
Links and Resources Mentioned in This Interview
Reporters Are Looking for YOU! By Dan Janal
http://www.pressreleasesender.com/ – Dan’s press release service
http://www.prleads.com/ – connect with reporters directly
http://www.janal.com/ – contact Dan for speaking gigs.