If you want better publicity, get to know the needs and wants of journalists. That was the advice given to 150 IT marketers at the Understand the IT Media seminar held in Sydney two weeks ago.
The event is organised each year by Recognition Public Relations. Twenty journalists and two lawyers talked at this year's seminar.
Topics presented included: What is news, How to get IT news on TV, What makes a good press photo and What makes a good case study.
One message repeated several times by the speakers was: don't call a journalist unless you know what their publication is all about. You need to understand what sort of articles they run, who reads the publication and what the journalists are trying to do for their readers.
Beverley Head, former editor of the Australian Financial Review's IT pages, talked about how to present a good case study to a publication.
She said vendors and their channel partners need to be more sophisticated and shouldn't pretend that an installation went without a hitch.
True-life problems met and solved will add to the interest value of the story. It will be more widely believed and will add to the company's reputation. Pretending there are never any problems with your product or service ensures no one will believe you.
Mark Hollands, editor of Computers and High Technology on The Australian, explained how journalists see news. `It is a common mistake among PR people,' he said, `to believe their clients actually make news by saying things. They don't.'
News has to be about an event, not a claim made by a marketing person. Mark Hollands said news has to shock, delight or anger - it has to touch human emotions. It has to have a `wow factor'.
Other tips to IT marketers included:
l Never send the same press release a second time. If it wasn't news the first time it certainly won't be the second time
l Never over-sell a story. Journalists will be particularly cross if they think they've been conned
l Don't call and ask, `Did you get my release? Are you going to use it?'
l A good photo will go a long way to help a story get good coverage
l Photographers need plenty of time to take a great shot. You can help by suggesting good locations, setting aside adequate time, providing staff to hold props, etc
l Avoid calling a journalist who hasn't run a story and demanding a reason
More details of the seminar will be posted to www.recognition.com.au.
Steve Townsend is managing director of Recognition public relations. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org