Public Relations

Before Sending Press Releases to the Media, Do This

Posted by M. Sharon Baker
Before Sending Press Releases to the Media, Do This

It’s not easy to earn the media’s trust.

Especially not after incidents like the Ryan Holiday debacle – the guy who responded to Help A Reporter calls for sources but lied about his background and made everything up.

Reporters are naturally suspicious folks. You have to earn their trust and prove that you are worthy of a story.

Before sending out a press release – one that you hope to attract media attention  – you need to get your website in order.

Create a Press Room

Reporters will visit your site and expect to find a press or newsroom, often also called a media room. On that page, front and center, you need to have contact information for whomever will handle your press calls.

Don’t have or direct the media to a contract form. They hate those.

Provide a contact choice of a phone and an email address, or social media contact – whatever will allow the reporter to contact you instantly. Don’t make them work too hard or they will go find another company that fits their bill.

After the contact information, include background on your company. How big is it? How many employees do you have? When was it founded? By Whom? What milestone have you hit or how has the company grown and changed over time?

Include information about the founders and executive team, providing downloadable photos of key personnel.

Then include links to your press releases. (Or put them on this page after you write them.)

And then links to any media attention – articles, videos, radio audio clips – so the reporter can see what others have said about you.

If you have other content you would like to share, provide it as well.

That content might include topics your CEO can talk about, speeches he or she has given and you’ve had transcribed, articles that your company has contributed to various trade magazines, etc.

Be sure to add a link to the company blog and links to the company’s social media pages.

Examples of Simple Press Rooms 

Here are a few good examples of simple press rooms.

Each takes a slightly different approach, but all give you a good indication of the press they’ve received and most importantly who to contact.

How They Started Press Room

Gail Harker Creative Studies Center Press Room

Score More Sales News Room

BB Ranch News Room

All of this information, housed in one place, helps the reporter know that you are aware you need to make their job easier when they write about you.

It provides information they can use for fact checking later on. It also provides information on your company before you send out press releases; reporters look for companies that fit various profiles and do research your company just like customers do.

What other elements have you put on your press or media room web site pages?

Case Studies/Content/Journalism/Marketing/Writing

Case Studies, Articles, White Papers, Press Releases & Blog Posts: What I’ve Been Writing

Posted by M. Sharon Baker
Case Studies, Articles, White Papers, Press Releases & Blog Posts: What I’ve Been Writing

I profiled Betsy and Warren Talbot of Married with Luggage for Intuit's Small Business Blog

It’s summer and I’ve been so busy creating content for clients and magazines that I have not had time to brainstorm topics for the blog or update my website.

Many times, this content takes a while to show up on the web.

Below is a list and some links to what I’ve published/created so far this year.

In some cases, confidentiality or still in progress work prohibits me from sharing.


Writing for Corporate Clients:

I profiled Betsy and Warren Talbot of Married with Luggage for Intuit's Small Business Blog

I’m a member of the blogging team for Intuit’s Small Business Blog. Some posts include:

For Intuit’s Go Payment Blog I’m writing case studies paired with videos:


I continue to write case studies for


I collaborated with Gail Harker and her students to write a contributed article for a new industry publication called Fiber Art Now.

Developing the Fiber Artist Within at The Gail Harker Creative Studies Center


I’ve written several  press releases, including:

I'm helping Carol Tice and David Lester promote their book



I can’t share details, but I’ve also been working on:

  • 2 White papers, 1 for data center client, another for a high tech firm
  • 4 B2B Lead Nurturing Articles plus emails, three for networking client, one for call center
  • 16B2B Blog posts for networking client partners
  • Press Release and Media Pitching for financial firm



I also still “commit” Journalism:


For Tech Target:

For Nation’s Restaurant News:



  • Open Kitchens, Diner Involvement: Keys to Cashing in on Chef, Cooking Craze
  • Vegetarian Sausage, Burgers, Other Vegetarian Items Now Mainstream

For Seattle Business:

  • Mothers of Invention: Despite the daunting economy, Washington has plenty of ‘mompreneurs” bravely starting new businesses.
  •  Later this year, another story on Women-owned Seattle Area Businesses


By taking stock of what you have accomplished this year, you can see what might be expanded into a case study, additional links for your website or a list of people to survey for testimonials.


How do you keep track of what you’ve done so you can use those projects to your advantage? I’d love to hear your best practices in the comment section below.


Photos © Warren Talbot, M. Sharon Baker, MOD Pizza


Case Studies/How To

Two Storytelling Secrets Marketing Managers Can Use To Transform Boring Case Studies

Posted by M. Sharon Baker
Two Storytelling Secrets Marketing Managers Can Use To Transform Boring Case Studies

Do your case studies make prospects yawn?

Do your case studies make prospects yawn?

Most business case studies are nothing more than informational reports where concepts are discussed in generalities.

Many are formulaic, starting with an overview of the customer and a general outline of their problem and, in very general terminology, how your company solved that problem.

What’s missing are the specifics that allow you to create and write an engaging story that resonates with prospects.

Jack Hart, a newspaper writing coach and collaborator who helped several reporters win Pulitzers, addresses the difference in his latest book, Story Craft.

For years, he says, reporters were directed “to show not to tell.” But in reality, he says, to tell a good story, you need to do both – tell and show – by moving up and down the abstraction ladder.

A case study must describe a general problem that many have encountered, but make us feel the pain of the problem by providing specifics and highlighting the pain of a single customer. The key is to make us feel the pain, not just describe it.

So how to you do that?

First, ask the right questions in the interview process.

Identify the pain points. There is a big difference between “having an antiquated phone system” and having the press box phone bank go dead during the championship basketball game.

Or between “maintaining an old PBX system” and having to wait four days and then pay $1,500 for a service provider site visit only to tell you it will take another five days to get the part you need.

Your customers call you for a reason. Listen to what they say and start capturing that information.

During a case study interview, ask them to tell you what they are trying to do and why it is important to their company. What problems are they running into, and how does it affect the overall business?

Get really specific and ask how, why and “what happened then” questions.

Don’t settle for generalities like “our computer system was very old.” Dig until you hear “many of our customers wanted to place bets right from their mobile phone while the thoroughbreds paraded to the track. But our network couldn’t handle every new device and we knew we were losing millions of dollars.”

Second, quantify results people can relate to and understand.

You didn’t just save your customers time and money. You can now get the press box phone system up and running in five minutes from your home at any time rather than driving 25 minutes to the field, figuring out what is wrong and without making a $150-hour service call.

You didn’t just add new servers and a T-3 line, you provided Internet access to 400 students who used to sit in the library and find the information they needed in the school’s single set of 10-year-old encyclopedias.

Ask customers what benefits they now receive from your services. Ask them to contrast the task now to what they did before, and to quantify how easy it is to accomplish now.

Armed with these specific details, you should be able to write a chronological story, starting with your customer’s biggest headache and progressing to how you solved the problem and how his life is much, much easier now. Weave historical details and company background throughout the introduction rather than blurting it out at the beginning.


Tell prospects a story; don’t dump information in their lap. The story is in the details; you just need to dig them out.

Photo: Morguefile by Indenture


Are you tired of the formulaic method of writing case studies? How are you making your case studies more engaging?