Why do press releases work?

Press releases are old fashioned and outdated, right? Wrong!

You will not find any big businesses who does not write and issue press releases. Big multi-nationals, Premier League football clubs even ‘famous’ people. They all know that press releases are crucial to get their message out there.

In fact, press releases are so much more important in 2015 than they were in 1995 or 2005.

And this is why: Every newspaper (local and national) has seen huge cuts in staff over the last fifteen years. I mean HUGE cuts. Cuts in manpower like you would not believe.

The entire way that a newspaper operates and brings in its stories has totally changed. Local newspapers do not have tiny regional offices, they rarely send reporters out to cover a story. They don’t have the time or resources.

But most local newspapers still have the same number of pages to fill as they did a decade ago. And that means the pressure is on, whether it’s a daily or weekly deadline the staff are working to.

The bottom line is this: If you can deliver to them a story which is essentially already written for them, with great photographs alongside it, you stand a great chance of getting published. Sometimes you can get your press release published word for word, if you have done a good job.

This is effectively free advertising (though don’t mention this to them!).

Get Publicity Now! will give you the confidence you need to get your business heard above all the noise. March 24, 2015 in Preston.



Do I know about publicity?

Do I know about publicity? Do I – well, yes [he says modestly].

I’ve written press releases for public relations companies. Loads of them. Press releases for some big businesses. Some of them were serious, some of them were publicity stunts.

I’ve also sub-edited for several regional and national newspapers, so I’ve read thousands of press releases and seen which ones work and which ones fall flat.

Then I have written press releases for my own projects, for photography exhibitions, for books and for other projects I’ve been involved with.

For one of my most recent projects – God, Have You Ever Been To Wigan? – I felt so confident that I knew how to get publicity that I launched it on Twitter with a publicity stunt which led to the local press contacting me.

So, I am confident enough to feel like I know what I am doing. I know the tricks – some of them I would never write about – but want to pass on this information so some of the brilliant businesses and things going on in Lancashire can be heard.

There’s loads of information packed into this new and experimental Get Publicity Now! workshop. If you join in, you will learn things you will use for the rest of your life.

This can only make your business better.

In my workshop Get Publicity Now! I tell you exactly what information you need to put in your press release, how to find the stories inside your business, how to make sure you don’t miss anything out, and what words to use to make it interesting enough for someone to want to publish it.

Some of my free publicity:

garry cook cuttings 001

Writing press releases

You are not a writer.
You don’t have time to work on a press release.
You are scared to try writing a press release.
You are scared of making mistakes in your writing.

The fear of mistakes in press releases. I say: Don’t worry about them.

Mistakes happen. Don’t let the fear of them put you off.

There could even be a missed word or typing error in what I am writing now. There probabky is*. But it doesn’t matter – the important thing is that you get your message across.

A news editor will not care if there is a missed word or poor phrase in your press release if you have just delivered to them a great story to fill their newspaper or magazine.

These are the things you can do to eliminate mistakes:

  • Re-read what you have written on screen
  • Print out what you have written and read it again
  • Give your brain a few hours rest and read it again
  • Give your finished press release to someone else to read

These tips are so simple, hugely effective and – most significantly of all – rarely carried out by novice writers.

This is a shame, because if you follow these four simple steps the clarity in your writing will rise steeply as the number of errors falls off. The biggest problem for a business is time – finding the time to write, finding the time to pass on some writing for someone else to read can seem like too much hassle.

I would say: Don’t worry about it. Do as much as you can – and then get your press release story out there. If the mistakes are not glaring (and so overpowering that a literary perfectionist would vomit on the spot while reading your words), you will be fine.

The important thing is writing a clear concise press release – with all the crucial information and contact details included.

Once it is written, get it out there and see what reaction you get.

In my workshop Get Publicity Now! I tell you exactly what information you need to put in your press release, how to find the stories inside your business, how to make sure you don’t miss anything out, and what words to use to make it interesting enough for someone to want to publish it.

March 24, 2015. In Preston, Lancashire. Signup on this website (top right).

*NOTE: Any mistakes in this article are probabky deliberate.

logo get publicity now

Why me? Garry Cook

Who the hell am I to tell you how to get publicity?

Here’s a link to some (not all) of the publicity I’ve gotten for some of my projects over the past couple of years.

I am a journalist who has written for these printed publications (the list is so long I’ve had to put on a link). This is why I know what newspapers and magazines like in their press releases and images. I also know how newspapers work – if you make their job as easy as possible you hugely increase the chances of getting your message published.

I’ve worked in public relations, which is where I learned how to grab attention.

And I’m a photographer who has published books, held exhibitions and learned what it takes to produce a great image.

And now I want to pass on that knowledge.

If you’re ready to listen, two decades of my knowledge and experience costs just £30.

My workshop is held in Preston. Sign up from the top right of this page.

Point of view (photography)

NOTE: the subject in photography is the thing you are focusing on. This can be a person or an object.

Where your camera is in relation to the subject can make or break a photograph. I’ve already spoken about how important getting in close is.

But how low or how high you go is also crucial. There are many points of view to a photograph. The viewpoint of where you are when you get your camera out of your pocket is rarely the best one.

If your viewpoint is looking down on someone, you will almost always produce an image which, at best, will be poor. Probably it will be very bad.

Lowering yourself, getting down on one knee (if possible) or standing on something to elevate you can all have a huge impact on what you are trying to achieve.

If it is a person or animal you are photographing, getting down (or up) to their eye level will have a dramatic effect on the quality of your image. Particularly important when photographing children this.

You will not find any professional photographer assigned to take an image of a child who does not get down to their eye level. It would be unthinkable.

Here are general the rules:

  • Kids/animals – photograph them at their eye level.
  • Get down low look up – if you want to make the subject seem powerful
  • Get up high – to make people look weak (or to change the background in the image).

This technique can result in dirty clothes. But who ever remembered a pair of muddy jeans when they looked at that shot of the child playing with slugs?


NOTE 2: My workshop on photography and press releases is on March 24, 2015. Signup is up there in the corner.


Getting free publicity

DISCLAIMER: As much as I would like to give away ALL my tips for free, I just can’t.

I can’t because I have bills to pay, kids to feed and a car which still costs over £65 to fill up even though the fall in price of fuel makes me very happy.

And the thing is, should I give away all the knowledge and expertise I have learned over 20-odd years in journalism and public relations without actually getting paid? The answer, very simply, is no. The solution, very simply, is to charge a nominal fee – say £30 – to a select group of attendees and give them the power to beat their business rivals to more publicity, better publicity and free publicity.

So that’s where Get Publicity Now! was born. A fairly unique half-day workshop covering photography, press releases and marketing cleverness specifically aimed at raising the profile of your business.

Book your place now bit.ly/GPNtickets (or click on the Eventbrite link to the right) The workshop starts at 10am (until 1pm) om Tuesday March 24, 2015.

NOTES: I did this to promote my book God, Have You Ever Been To Wigan?

publicity stunt, god, wigan, garry cook, get publicity now, preston, lancashire

It resulted in this free publicity in my target area (Wigan):

garry cook, wigan evening post, god

Get in close (for a great photograph)

One of the simplest, quickest and easiest ways to rectify bad photography.

Most people take a photo of a scene and/or people from too far away.

Sure signs you’re not close enough:

  • You can’t see their eyeballs
  • You can see their shoes
  • You can see their knees
  • You can see their belt/waistline

There’s more than one foot of space between the top of their heads and the edge of the photo. Wasted space.

Wherever you start off from, especially if you have just taken a photograph (badly), you need to move forwards.

Move forwards – closer to your subject. Imagine you are stepping in to the scene you have just photographed badly.

It is such a simple thing to do but has massive impact.

Why do people not do this? Two reasons: either they have not learned that a photo does not have to include a full body (of one or more people). Or, they are slightly nervous, do not know the people they are photographing properly and do not want to invade their space.

But you will actually make the person being photographed look better. Just invade their bloody space.

Don’t be apologetic – or scared – just step in to the scene you can see through your viewfinder or screen. Take two, three, four, five steps. Whatever it takes. Get close. Instantly achieve a better photograph.

A bad, boring, boring photograph:

good photography, bad photography, garry cook, lancashire, whalley

The same story, in a photo which has hugely greater imapct (so good they used it on the front page of the newsaper twice:

good photography, bad photography, garry cook, lancashire, whalley