The composites industry is made up of many small and medium-sized companies. Many do not have resources dedicated to ‘PR’, and many people tell me they just don’t have the time to write information for the press. But I would encourage you to try and make the time. One of the biggest issues in the composites industry is educating people about the materials, so take the time to promote your company’s activities.

People often ask me how to send in information for publication in Reinforced Plastics, so I’m dedicating this column to answering that question.

News

Press releases are the traditional way of communicating information to the media. Bigger companies will have marketing and communications specialists to write and distribute these. Smaller companies may not have these dedicated resources, but with a little careful thought and planning you can still produce an effective news release.

Here are some issues to consider before you start:

  • What is the story you want to tell? (Is it actually a good story? Would you want to read about it?)
  • Is it current? (Old news is not going to get published.)
  • Who do you want to tell it to? (Research the relevant magazines and publications in your target markets. Check that these magazines publish the sort of information you want to send. Send the release to a named contact. Check what format the publication likes to receive information in; e-mail is a generally accepted and fast way of getting your release to someone.)
  • Keep it simple. (Keep your writing style clear and simple. Write for the audience you are targeting. Avoid ‘hyping up’ the information too much — avoid overuse of words such as state-of-the-art, leading edge, revolutionary etc.)
  • Keep it short. (Two to three pages maximum. The editor will ask if they need more information.)

Writing news

  • Make it topical – it should make clear what's new.
  • Keep it simple: write in the active voice; use everyday language and avoid (or explain) all jargon, technical terms and acronyms; put the most interesting things at the start of the story and background information towards the end;
  • Think about ‘the five Ws’: who?, what?, where?, when? and why?
  • Use quotes sparingly and only if they are relevant and interesting. They should sound like something someone could say, not what they have written.
  • Provide the telephone and e-mail of people to contact for further information.
  • Provide a good quality picture if possible, and make sure it has an informative caption.
  • Include a person to contact for further information (a contact for editors and for readers, if they are different.)
  • Send a good picture if you can. (A picture really is worth a thousand words. A good quality, relevant image can greatly increase the impact of your story. A poor quality, poorly composed, or uninteresting picture will not be used. Avoid computer-enhanced ‘cleverness’, and remember, photographs of people shaking hands don’t usually grab the attention! If you are sending electronic images remember that for print quality they need to be high resolution files – Reinforced Plastics requires a minimum resolution of 300 dpi.)

Help

There are of course many public relations agencies which can help with publicity and press relations. But they can be expensive, and, in my experience, of very variable quality. Shop around and try to find someone who understands your business and the technologies involved. Technical information is particularly difficult to communication effectively.

And finally, if you really have no time to devote to news releases, simply add the relevant publications to your mailing lists for new product literature, company newsletters, corporate mailings etc. These can often serve as sources of stories.

What next

Once you’ve sent in your release, what then?

People are often ask to see a story they have contributed to before it goes to print. However, unlike papers for technical journals, in the vast majority of cases magazines simply do not have the time to send out stories to contributors for checking before publication.

If the information is published, most magazines will send contributors a copy of the published story.

If you’d like any advice on how to present your information, or have any questions about the magazine’s coverage, simply give the editor a call.