Thursday, February 23, 2006

The 7 Secrets of Writing a Great Media Release

By Thomas Murrell MBA CSP, International Business Speaker

Recently I rewrote and edited my last Media Motivators article on the McEddie "Everywhere" McGuire personal brand and turned it into a media release.

It generated two high profile radio interviews on ABC and commercial radio and a Google search on the words "Eddie McGuire" positioned my story on the first page at number 10 out of a possible 3.2 million mentions.

It also prompted one news editor to contact me and ask if I could write a column for his influential, high-profile and award-winning newspaper.

So how did I do it? More importantly, how can you turn your expert knowledge into a news release that gains you tens of thousands of dollars worth of media coverage for free?

And what are the secrets of writing media releases that get used instead of deleted and ranked highly in Google?

This is a question critical to gaining ongoing media coverage in a consistent way for any organisation or individual.

How to write a news release that generates free publicity is a great skill to have. The good news it is a learned skill!

This article covers media release writing in detail - the 7 secrets of writing a great news release.

1. Strong News Value

Your media release must have a strong news value and not be trying to sell something or be blatant advertising. The media will see through this.

Conflict, drama, currency, relevance, proximity, prominence, and timeliness are the strongest news value.

Ask: what is new about what we're doing?

2. A Well Written Headline

A headline must grab the attention of the editor or reporter.

3. A Well Written Lead Paragraph

A lead paragraph must continue to hold the attention of the editor or reporter and summarise what the story is about.

4.Quotable Quotes

Quotable quotes add credibility and human interest to a media release. They are the flesh that goes on the facts or bare bones of the story. They must be memorable and well crafted.

Take this quote from a famous athlete who had just come out of retirement, "I'm bored, I'm broke and I'm back!".

Nice - simple, memorable and direct. Plus the media love it because of its honesty, structure and rhyming nature, especially the alliteration with all the first words starting with the letter 'b'.

5. Clarity In Writing Style

Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking. Don't try and put the whole story across with every detail. Remember, the aim is to get the media interested in the story and then call for more detail.

A media release is not the same as an article, promotional brochure or detailed announcement to the Australian Stock Exchange!

6. Strong Call To Action

Your media release must end with a call to action. What is it you want people to do after reading or hearing your message?

Invest in your stock, buy your book or vote for you!

7. Comprehensive Contact Details

A news release should always contain current contact details for the media to follow-up.

At a minimum these are landline, mobile, web and email.

For more media tips visit our website

Can A Strong Personal Brand Revive A Flagging Corporate Brand?

By Thomas Murrell MBA CSP, International Business Speaker

The personal marketing power of Eddie McGuire as chief executive of the Nine Network could add more than 100 million dollars to the company over the next five years.

Running a commercial TV station is a simple business model. The more eyeballs you have watching - the more you can charge for advertising.

Advertising is limited by time and space so the key is to get the maximum number of viewers with good programming.

In the case of Channel 9, analysts believe each rating point increase is worth about $40 million dollars in revenue a year.

McGuire's unique combination of charismatic personality, influencing skills and high profile makes him the perfect personal brand on which to build a new corporate identity.

Branding in today's competitive, crowded and noisy marketplace now needs to focus on three levels - the corporate brand for capital markets and external stakeholders, the internal brand for employees and at a leadership level, the personal brand of the CEO has a significant and often underestimated impact - McGuire has the qualities to succeed at all three levels.

Successful leaders with high levels of power, influence and charisma are able to align their personal brand with that of the company to add shareholder value and this is what makes the appointment of Eddie McGuire such a good decision.

McGuire's values of the ambitious, hard working and determined battler appeal to the Australian larrikin in us all, and because Nine's audiences, revenue streams and future fortunes lie with this target market, I'm convinced he will be a success despite his perceived lack of management experience.

Brands help keep products or services fresh in the minds of consumers - and good marketers and influencers are able to identify what is at the core of a brand - the McGuire personal brand will bring new energy to Nine's waning star.

The outstanding attribute of the McGuire personal brand is that his values are both authentic and aspirational and this resonates across a wide range of demographics.

McGuire is not afraid to have a go at the establishment and this much admired Australian trait coupled with his creativity and impeccable networking skills make him the obvious choice.

I'm calling this concept Integrity Marketing, where a good CEO will use their position, personality and power to align the values of an organisation with those of its staff and customers.

The Eddie McGuire story is the typical hero's journey and this is why his personal brand will add value to the company right from the CEO's door to the mail room floor.

His profile as President of the famous AFL Football Club, Collingwood has also helped create a powerful personal brand.

Learning from Eddie McGuire's success, if you're an aspiring or experienced leader here are five reasons why you should implement a personal brand strategy:

It sets you apart from your competitors.

It reflects your core values, personality, talent and skill set.

It increases your credibility, especially if you can harness the power of the media.

It establishes your expertise, authority and value.

It creates a success spiral that can boost your health, wealth and career.

For more media tips visit our website

Get Certain. Get Focused. Get Going Now!

By Thomas Murrell MBA CSP, International Business Speaker

Its the beginning of another year. Will this be your best year ever? Or more of the same?

Chinese New Year is a special time for me. It brings back memories of my time in China in January.

Seeing families spending special time together. Dark green citrus trees everywhere, such as mandarin and cumquat, their branches bent over with heavily laden bright orange fruit and every shop, house and hotel covered with red and gold decorations.

This visual and sensory experience had a profound impact on me.

It taught me the value of colour and being different.

Many of you know my passion for wearing red ties. I wear red ties because it makes me feel good. Strong, intelligent and believable. Happiness is about family, purpose and beliefs.

The colour red means passion and reinforces my purpose and belief. It also matches my corporate brand. It is important my corporate and personal brand are congruent.

Choosing a red tie helps me do this and I work a lot in Asia as a speaker, so the meaning my corporate colour conveys is important.

The meaning behind my business name - 8M Media and Communications - is also important. Many people show genuine interest and often ask me about the name.

This gives me permission to tell a story. And storytelling creates an emotional connection with people.

Eight is a lucky number in many Asian cultures - meaning prosperity and wealth. The colour red has the same meaning in Asian culture. So my business name, my corporate colour and logo and personal image are all consistent, congruent and clear. This helps me be memorable.

Importantly, it also matches my vision, purpose and passion of bringing prosperity and wealth to the audiences I speak to and the consulting, coaching and mentoring clients I work with.

It matches my business plan and lifestyle goals. I love living in the paradise called Perth. I can think of no better location to bring up my young family.

Yet, in the same time zone and a quick flight away, is the booming market of Asia - with its aspirational, intelligent and willing to learn marketplace.

So my business model of working up the meridian rather than across it helps me create and live my dream life.

As you take time to plan the year ahead, and perhaps celebrate Chinese New Year, please use these key questions to get certain, get focused and get going now!

What makes you happy?

How important is your family to you?

What is your purpose in life?

How can you make a difference in the lives of others?

What little bit extra can you do this year?

What colour makes you feel good and matches your passion?

How can you use your time more wisely?

What will challenge your thinking?

This is just a sample to get going.

Get the momentum in your career, your business and your relationships you deserve now!

For more media tips visit our website

Nine Networking Tips For Your Next Christmas Event

By Thomas Murrell MBA CSP, International Business Speaker

This time of year is ideal for sharpening and honing your networking skills. There is not a better time to start building long-term business relationships. Christmas offers a chance to meet new people in a relaxed and social atmosphere whilst maintaining a professional relationship level.

However it is important to uphold your professionalism to make optimum use of the networking opportunities.

Nine common mistakes people make when networking over the festive season include;

1. Not Planning Prior To The Event.

Work out what you want to achieve from going to the festive event. Is it just to relax, have fun and unwind after a busy year? Is it to say thank you to your clients, meet new people or build long-term relationships? Your approach will differ in all these situations. Have a plan prior to attending the event and try to reach set goals. An example might be to obtain three new key contacts or to reaffirm an existing relationship.

2. Running Out Of Business Cards.

There is nothing more embarrassing or unprofessional than when someone asks you for a business card and you can't produce one. Always carry too many rather than too few. Being prepared gives you more confidence and entrusts confidence when developing new relationships.

3. Making A Beeline For People You Know

Most people have a great fear of walking into a room full of people they don't know. See this as a challenge rather than a handicap and avoid going for the easy option of meeting people you know well first. Certainly acknowledge these people but leave them until the end of the function to catch up with. This will maximise your chances of meeting new people.

Make a goal to meet five new people at an event. Don't try and meet everyone of the 100 or so people at an event. Making a lasting impression with a few rather than a shallow interaction with many is far more beneficial.

4. Talking Too Much

Avoid talking too much about yourself. This is probably the biggest turn-off for prospective clients or alliance partners.

5. Not Listening

Business is all about providing solutions to people's problems. How can you understand their problems if you don't ask questions and listen? Use active listening skills to build rapport and gain a true understanding of their issues and concerns.

6. Hard Sell

Networking events are your opportunity to develop relationships. Avoid the hard-sell and get to know the person you are speaking with. Once the relationship has been established the business will come. Initial hard selling may have the opposite effect and drive the person away.

7. Lack Of Clarity

Research shows that 95 per cent of business people are often asked, particularly at a networking function "what do you do?"

Many have difficulty articulating what they do, particularly in conveying the benefits of their position to a prospective client. Having a 'personal branding statement' (PBS) really helps in this situation. It helps to clarify how you or your business can solve their problems and takes all the stress out of answering this question!

8. Over Indulgence

As with all things in life, moderation is key. In this context it includes limiting consumption of alcohol to an acceptable level and being mindful when introducing yourself to people. Remember you are a professional regardless of the situation or time of year. Respect those around you and your personal and professional responsibilities.

9. Not Following Up

Many people simply fail to follow-up on the prospects or business leads they meet at festive networking events. Put in place a system to follow-up, otherwise many of your networking efforts will be wasted. This can be as simple as an email or phone call to acknowledge your interaction and does not have to be business related. A relationship which might not seem to be initially good for your business may lead to you being referred on, one of the strongest marketing tools used to generate more business.

Good luck networking and building your social capital!

For more media tips visit our website

Sales Secrets From A Six-Year Old

By Thomas Murrell MBA CSP, International Business Speaker

Picture a beautiful sunny day one weekend in late spring in Perth, Western Australia. A climbing white iceberg rose is in full bloom releasing its sweet perfume into the still air.

Underneath that rose sitting on the footpath are a six-year old girl and four-year old boy, both with blonde hair, blue eyes and impeccably dressed.

They have a table, chair and umbrella set-up, with a little hand-written sign saying "Raffle Tickets For Sale Only $2".

They patiently wait in the warm spring air. Then as people walk down the street, the six-year old confidently approaches them saying, "Hello, would you like to buy a raffle ticket, we're raising money for our school!"

How could anyone refuse? This was my daughter Georgia as she sold raffle tickets and in a small way helped raise more than $30,000 for her local school.

What did I learn from my daughter's entrepreneurial approach to helping raise money that will help put air-conditioning in the class-rooms of her 108-year old school?

Well, they are insights we can all apply to any sales situation, whether a multi-million dollar company, small business or not-for-profit fund raiser.

1. Enthusiasm.

This quality more than anything else is essential for sales success. My daughter had it in bucketfuls.

How is your enthusiasm for your job, product or organisation?

2. Organisation.

Good salespeople are well organised. My daughter was no exception with the chairs, umbrella, sign, tickets, pen and cash float for change.

Is your lack of organisation costing you sales?

3. Empathetic listener

Even though she's only six, my daughter is a good listener. A value as parents we've tried to teach her.

4. Self-motivation

My daughter would still be on the footpath selling raffle tickets if she had her way.

Her level of motivation was exceptional and for her this was fun.

Are you still having fun in your job?

By the way, the ball for the parents was also great fun, as you can tell by the photo with my gorgeous wife (third from left) and other friends!

5. Competitive

Again, my daughter wanted to sell the most raffle tickets in her class and we had to hold her back!

Competition can be healthy for sales.

6. Goal Orientation

Again, my daughter had a goal to sell all her raffle tickets.

7. Initiative

I know it's probably illegal to sell things on the front footpath without a licence, but again I was impressed with my daughter's initiative.

8. Customer Orientation

My daughter always listened to the customer and approached them with a smile!

It is amazing that as we get older we forget these simple, proven techniques.
For more media tips visit our website

How To Write a Press Release

By Thomas Murrell MBA CSP, International Business Speaker

Have you ever sent out a media release and got no response? Zero, zip, nil, zilch?

The majority of media releases never get used by the media. Why is this?

Having worked in the media and in media relations for more than 20 years here are my insights on the nine reasons the media won't use your news release.

1. Information Overload.

Journalists are bombarded with information. When I was at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation our fax would spew out at least a hundred media releases a day. With email, the amount of information journalists receive on a daily basis is huge.

2. The Operating Environment.

Walk into any newsroom around the world and its dominated and run by alpha males. In senior editorial ranks the glass ceiling is set in the stratosphere for women.

It's a competitive dog eat dog environment, shaped by egos and deadlines. Journalists have to worry about publishers, editors, sub-editors, executive producers, peers, stakeholders, advertisers, readers, viewers and listeners.

Understand this environment and you understand the pressures they are under. Learn to work within this operating environment. For example, always ask them what their deadline is when initial contact is made.

Most media relations fails because of a lack of understanding of the environment the media work in.

3. Deadlines

Deadlines are absolute and immovable. If you promise something before a deadline and don't deliver, you not only let the reporter down, they are under added pressure to fill a hole.

If you can't make a deadline, let the media know as soon as possible.

Miss a deadline and you miss an opportunity. Always make it a priority to return calls from the media.

Respond to requests for extra information, interviews or photo shoots promptly.

4. Media Products Differ

Different publications and programs are aimed at different audiences. From daily newspapers to specialist trade magazines and newsletters all have a clear brief.

Make sure your media releases matches their brief. If there is not a match, they won't use it.

5. Media People Differ

People differ. Some are ego-driven, some are story-tellers, some are mirror holders, some are truth seekers, and some are social activists.

Find out the key to what motivates them and you unlock the secrets of good media relations.

6. Media Organisations Differ

This is known as agency, where the economics, politics and culture of a media organisation impacts on what stories they run and how they treat a story. For example, public broadcasters like the Australian Broadcasting Corporation have clear editorial guidelines preventing any promotion of commercialism.

7. No Relationship

Relationships are built on trust. The stronger the relationship, the more likely you will understand what the media wants.

The best approach is to communicate, follow-up and then leave it at that. Don't be a pest or time-waster.

8. Lack Of Clarity And Consistency

If you're not clear on what your key message is, how will the media know?

It is better to be clear and concise than original.

9. Accuracy and Style

Inaccurate information destroys trust and the relationship. The style must be in a media friendly format.

Want to know more?

For more media tips visit our website