Another news article deadline loomed and I'd yet to verify the source company's name. The body of the press release read SMITT Intergalactic Veterinary Services, which established SMITT as an acronym - perhaps for something like Smith, Monroe, Inred, Thomas and Troy - but I'd always understood that the company had been named for owner Dr. Smitt, in which case the name should be written with a capital "S" and lowercase "mitt."
Awaiting a response from my contact person about the matter, I turned to the company's website.
The name resurfaced as SMITT in the body of content, but now within several variations: SMITT Intergalactic Animal Clinic, SMITT Intergalactic Veterinarians, SMITT Intergalactic LLC. Now I had two concerns, which essentially boiled down to one important question: What's your company's full, official name, really?
Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock ...
This should have resolved the issue within 90 seconds. I held while the receptionist sought "someone who could help" me.
Help me, yes!
Imagine my surprise to hear that she couldn't find anyone "authorized" to answer my question.
Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock ...
I eventually confirmed the name being Smitt Intergalactic Veterinary Services, but it shouldn't have been so difficult or time-consuming to accomplish this.
Shouldn't one of the company's goals be to help members of the media identify the organization and convey information about it with accuracy?
I've been writing, presenting and advising people about writing for business and media relations for a few years, and I devote an entire section of my new book to expansion of the concept that I call "being media-friendly." This means being recognized by members of the media as someone who speaks their language, upholds a high standard of professionalism and respects the purpose, deadlines and professional needs of reporters, editors and others in the field. Click here to read an excerpt of that section.
Why not help members of the media help you?
- Write your company's entire official name correctly on first reference in the body of each Web page, on all written media correspondences and wherever else people would expect to find it.
- Capitalize appropriately and confine capitalizing for emphasis to graphic design.
- Professional press releases display the date and media contact information up front, followed by the main point of the release summarized in a headline-style heading.
- Expand with the details in journalistic inverted-pyramid style, with clear and concise points and no hype.
- If possible, include a relevant, attributed quote or two that can be used as-is if an article or broadcast segment ensues.
- Limit the word count to one page or about 450 words or fewer. The art of succinctness in public messaging is worth cultivating for many reasons.
- To send a press release or story pitch, paste it to the body of an email and also attach it in document form.
Be sure you're targeting an appropriate person at an outlet that's relevant to your release or pitch. When submitting material to more than one person at a single outlet or department, make it clear that you are approaching them all. Don't expect a response to a pitch unless a recipient plans to pursue it.
Publishing the press releases on your website can deliver several benefits, including the increased chance that you'll be found by additional journalists searching for sources of your expertise or experience. Journalists are deadline- and detail-oriented. Being a media-friendly source will help them help you.
Nora Firestone is a professional writer, reporter and website designer who also teaches writing, media relations and DIY website building to small business owners. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via www.norafirestone.com/contact