Projects profiled in magazines or newspapers can bring in business. One of my clients recently had a house profile in a magazine – a shiny four-page spread featuring happy homeowners in their gorgeous new home. The designer traced six prospective client phone calls to the feature which converted into three new builds – a very good return for a few hours’ work!
Those clients had been approached by the magazine to profile the home. They’d been lucky. But I believe in making your own luck with a not-rocket-science device called the media release.
As managing editor of a national houses magazine, it always surprised me how few designers approached me with projects. Instead, I would spend a large portion of my time searching for new projects to profile.
My life would have been easier if I’d had your new projects on file. If I’d had your projects on file it would have increased the likelihood that I would profile your home. Because you’re in front of my face.
Media releases should be a regular part of doing business. Don’t create media releases for everything, and don’t send them everywhere. Save them for your most photogenic, most appealing projects, and pitch them to a publication that’s a good fit for your project.
A good media release needs to be well presented and well written, naturally. But to be most effective it needs to answer the questions the editor needs answered.
Imagine you’re an editor, and you’re looking for projects to profile. You have an inbox full (if only) of media releases. The first media release includes project info, a blurb and images. It looks interesting but you have questions on various items, including photography (if I need to pay for the images will my budget be blown?) and specifications (I’d like to profile those windows in my glazing feature – I wonder what brand they are?). Those questions take time to answer. Time you don’t have. So you put this media release on your ‘to do’ pile and look at the next one. This one ticks all the boxes and gains a profile in the next issue.
A good media release includes:
Your media release should lead with what’s interesting about this project. What could readers learn? Have you used a new construction technique or material? Do the clients have a unique story they’d be happy to share? Finding an angle is critical so spend a bit of time on this.
Every project can shine in the right photographer’s hands. Professional photography is an investment – it can make the difference between a project being profiled or not.
Can the media use these photos for free or payment? Do they need to organise photography themselves? How should the photographer be attributed? These are some of the photography rights and licensing details you need to discuss with your photographer and outline for the editor.
Include contact details for yourself and other key stakeholders, including the clients if they’re happy to be included. This lets the editor know the homeowners are happy to be interviewed, which will usually work in favour of your profile.
What building materials were used throughout, including brand names? Most media is wedded to advertising, however uneasily, and brands like to be associated with profiles.
Has the project been published elsewhere? Editors value being first to ‘break a story’, so if your project hasn’t been published elsewhere, say so.
Now you’ve got the media release, put together a media list and target where you want to be profiled. After you’ve sent your release, follow up with the editor, building a relationship. If the project gets published say thank you to the editor and measure the response in terms of new prospects. It’s also a good idea to make the most of publicity by sharing your project’s profile through social media, which also spreads the reach of the publication, making your editor even happier!