I’ll tell you this as gently as I can: Press releases don’t always work. So don’t send them out thinking they’re going to get you on Oprah, The Today Show, Good Morning America or CBS Early Show. A lot of people still think press releases are the best way to get the media to notice them, but to the busy media professional, press releases say: “Here’s something everyone is going to get at the same time as you.  No scoop for you!”

Now I’m not saying they don’t work for search engine optimization purposes. Press releases are great for that. They build links back to your site; building your branding and messaging online and increasing your credibility.

You may want to send out press releases if you’re a corporate entity and need the message to be searchable on news wire services in the future. And reporters are not likely to ignore your press release if you have true breaking news, such as a plant expansion that will add hundreds of jobs in a local coverage area.

But sending out press releases is not the most effective way to score the coveted news features that you’ll want. That is done with relationship building. Nothing beats “dial and smile” phone calls, personalized emails and perfect pitches.

Organizing an online press kit with ready-to-use story ideas, quotes and background will help you get your message out and make it easier for the media to cover you. And making it easy for the media will definitely boost your odds of being chosen as a source in articles, TV segments and radio broadcasts.

Also, with social networking sites, it’s easier than ever to build a buzz about your product or service. You can take your message direct to the audience you seek with a great website, some search engine optimization or a Facebook friends link.

To score media coverage and build credibility though, there’s still no substitute for personal contact with your target media. Get to know them and make them feel special. Read their articles and tune in to their shows. Educate yourself on the different specialty or niche areas they cover.

Dig in. Most businesses have untold stories that are interesting. It may be something about how they got started or how they developed a new product or service. So find the compelling story about your business or product. Then make a list of those media people you would like to cover your story and begin building relationships with them — send them the press release before everyone else gets it. Give them the scoop before you announce it to the world. Making the media feel special is a sure-fire way to have them come back and ask for more scoops from you.

About the Author:
Twenty-year PR veteran Michelle Tennant Nicholson is Chief Creative Officer of Wasabi Publicity and co-founder of www.PitchRate.com, a free media tool that connects journalists, publicists, and experts.  Called a five-star publicist by Good Morning America’s Mable Chan, Michelle specializes in international PR, working regularly with the likes of Oprah, Larry King, BBC, The Today Show and other major media. Contact her at PR blog http://www.StorytellerToTheMedia.com where she teaches tips from the trade.