Guest Post by Erin Feldman
I don’t have a background in public relations, but my current position as the marketing communications manager at TouchSystems requires some PR skills.
One of the primary aims of my position is to increase the company’s brand recognition and presence. One of the ways I’m doing that is through press releases about new products, changes to existing products, or developments at the company itself.
Doing so is a challenge; I’ve been having to remember and relearn the process for writing a press release while adding my own spin to it.
I’ve also been having to develop and grow my press distribution list.
The second task actually hasn’t been too difficult. I have some experience with public relations through some positions I’ve held in the past.
What I remember from those past experiences is how important it was to build a personal list.
Those memories have only been strengthened during the past few years as I’ve sought writing projects or guest posts. The projects and posts I’ve “won” have been the result of building a personal connection with my contact and understanding the needs of that person.
The process is a little different with PR since I’m trying to share information, but I think the same principles apply. If I expect anyone to listen to me, I have to listen to them first. It’s common courtesy and decency.
I also haven’t been emailing everybody and anybody.
I first researched potential contacts. I then contacted those people on an individual basis and introduced myself. I told those people I would be sharing information with them on a regular basis and, if they didn’t want to receive that information, that they should tell me so that I could respect their wishes.
In addition, I asked if they would like me to contact someone else in their department or on their team.
Finally, I added my personal touch. I said that I understood how quickly the inbox fills (I do.) and that I didn’t want to add to the clutter.
Once I built my initial list, I started to send information.
I avoided and still avoid using the words “press release” in my communications; I might as well mark my email as “spam” if I’m going to use those two words. I instead write a more descriptive and keyword-heavy subject line.
I then provide a short synopsis of the information I’m sending, but I provide it in a style that’s all my own.
I want my contacts to know that I took the time to craft a personalized message.
I want them to know why I’m excited about the information I share.
I also want them to know that I respect and care for them, which is why I always begin or end with a short sentence saying that I hope they are well.
I know the importance of simple friendliness as someone who receives it and tries to give it.
Is my method the best one? Probably not. I’m fairly certain it breaks some, if not all, the PR rules known to PR professionals.
It works, though, and I think the secret ingredient is this: I’m always myself. Everything I write contains some element of my personality, and people respond to it for good or ill.
Image: planeta via Flickr, CC 2.0
What do you do to build your press distribution list? Do you have any suggestions for me, the novice in the PR world?