Welcome to Famous in Your Field! Here’s your free weekly tip to boost your fame factor. (Be sure to sign up in the box on the right to get on the VIP list for free tips and training, delivered straight to your inbox.)
Be honest. Are they dull?
Do they focus only on your company and talk about your services in a hype-filled way?
Will I find a line like, “XYZ Company, the leading provider of widgets, is pleased to announce…” as the lead sentence?
Don’t worry, friends! You can stifle the snores and get editors panting for your press releases with a few tweaks.
1. Put a face on it. Instead of making an announcement about winning an award, opening a new location or a technical upgrade, “hook” the news to a personal story. Journalists call this an ‘anecdotal lede.’ It’s a way to introduce your news topic in a story-like fashion. The Wall Street Journal does this spectacularly.
2. Give ’em numbers. Studies show that headlines with numbers generate more reads. (We’re especially drawn to odd numbers.) Both journalists and readers love data, facts and figures – they view the news as more credible than a generic claim about your company. One of the best ways to use surveys and data is to grab a copy of USA Today and find the latest study.
3. Offer tips and best practices. Feature stories offering useful information are extremely popular and they create a positive association with the organization giving the advice. (Plus, it’s a smart way to generate “news” about yourself and your company beyond the usual fodder.)
Here’s an example of a press release that combines #2 and #3. The story starts with a study, and then positions women’s business coach, Ginny Victory, as an expert by sharing her best practices for women to break through the $250,000 revenue plateau.
Women-Owned Businesses Gaining Ground, New Study Shows
Northville, MI – Date – Women are starting businesses at a rate 1.5 times the national average, equivalent to just under 550 new women-owned firms per day, according to a study released last month. The study, the American Express OPEN State of Women-Owned Businesses Report A Summary of Important Trends, 1997–2011 found that between 1997 and 2012, when the number of businesses in the United States increased by 37%, the number of women-owned firms increased by 54%, a rate 1.5 times the national average.
Another finding from the report shows that despite the fact that the number of women-owned firms continue to grow, and account for 29% of all enterprises, women-owned firms only employ 6%of the country’s workforce and contribute just under 4% of business revenues. Further, the employment and sales growth of women-owned enterprises between 1997 and 2011 (8% and 53%, respectively) lags the national average (17% and 71%).
Ginny Victory, a CPA and women’s business coach who calls herself a “money mentor” says she isn’t surprised by the report’s findings. She says that in coaching more than 500 women entrepreneurs, she’s often seen similar issues among women business owners.
Victory says she sees three recurring themes that keep women-owned businesses from growing beyond the $250,000 in annual revenue, the stage where many women-owned businesses plateau. “Women focus on managing expenses, instead of investing in their business. Second, they tend to do everything themselves. And third, women typically don’t think big enough.”
To combat the “focus on frugalism” that keeps businesses from growing, Victory urges women business owners to take three steps:
- Think like a CEO. “Take it seriously,” she says. “You are running a business, not playing at a hobby. Get a business checking account, a business credit card. Hire a bookkeeper, an accountant, an assistant. You can hire a these people for a just a few hours a month in the beginning, but you must carve out time to do what you do best, not run around putting out fires.”
- Pay yourself first. “Too many women just wait to see what’s left over at the end of the month and take that as their distribution. Instead, set the amount that you’re going to pay yourself, just like a salary at a job. Add in all your expenses, taxes and other business obligations and that number is your revenue target.”
- Focus on big revenue goals and a solid plan. “First, women need to stretch their minds to think bigger, and reach for larger goals. And second, they need to create a concrete plan to achieve those goals. Wishing isn’t enough.”
Victory, co-author of the upcoming book, Smart Women Embrace Transitions, is hosting a series of workshops for women business owners titled, Money Happens: Is it Happening for You, on April 17, 1pm to 4pm at the Northville Public Library and again at ZF Group North American Operations from 6pm to 9pm. Victory says the workshop is designed to shift women business owners’ thinking from focusing on expenses to focusing on revenue and sustainable profits. For more information, visit Victory’s website at http://ginnyvictory.com/moneyhappens/.
This week, pen a press release about you or your business using one of these three ideas to spark interest. Send it out to your media list and your network. Then, wait for the fan mail to pour in!