Journalists typically receive hundreds of press releases from PRs and entrepreneurs each day, and many of them will be completely ignored or overlooked, which can be disheartening, especially if you think your story is really exciting. So, how can you spread the word about your new product or services, shout about a great business success, and ultimately make your news stand out from the crowd? Follow the simple steps below, and you too could soon be enjoying some great coverage.
The power of a press release
A well-written press release is a fantastic way of sending your news to a journalist. If it is concise, and includes the essential who, what, where, and when elements, then it is a very effective coverage-generating tool. Remember, newspapers need good quality, well presented stories. But, do make sure they are relevant and haven’t already been covered. It is also beneficial to link the story to current events, the time of year, or even breaking news.
Read our press release dos and don’ts here.
Before you begin to write your press release, there are a few questions you should ask yourself – could your news be ‘announced’? Is it current and interesting? Is it topical? Will anyone other than you, or your nearest and dearest care? If the answer to any of these is no, then you need to seriously question whether a press release is the right tactic to use. Alternatively, an advert or direct mail may be a more appropriate option.
The headline and the first paragraph should outline the story in a compelling way, and make the reader want to know more. Short isn’t always sweet, but remember not to waffle. Make sure you provide enough information, and include the details. Above all, it is essential you double check for typographical mistakes and spelling errors – journalists need to trust the credibility of your piece, and a catalogue of errors will not support your case.
Recognise Your Media
Do your research and find out who would be the most relevant person to contact. There’s no point contacting sports journalists, if you’re trying to pitch an article about your artisan food business. There’s also no point wasting your time and sending pitches to journalists who simply aren’t interested – it is the fastest way for it to be sent to the junk folder. If you’re not sure who to send a release to, it’s OK to call the title’s switchboard or editorial team and check. It’s also worth bearing in mind, one size does not fit all, each pitch needs to be tailored to the journalist, making an offering as personal as possible makes it more likely to stand out.
When distributing your press release, it is best to attach a brief commentary of the article – remember journalists are busy so this is the deciding factor on whether they are interested enough to read the press release. And remember, make sure you embed the press release in the email, journalists hate receiving attachments, and often these are just a red flag to send the email straight to the junk folder. Timing is everything. Research shows a pitch is most likely to be picked up between 6am and 10am, anything after 4pm, or on a Friday, is a no go. If you can, try and also include a good photo to accompany the piece – avoid corporate photos and try to arrange something which supports the release and helps ‘tell the story’.
The Follow Up
It’s fine to be persistent, if you don’t receive any feedback in a couple of days it’s OK to contact the journalist and find out whether they require any further information. But, there’s a fine line between persistence and pestering, and repeatedly calling or emailing a journalist is one of the quickest ways to ensure your story will not be covered. Don’t be disheartened if your story isn’t picked up, if one door closes, another one may open.
And remember, we’re only a phone call away if you need any help :-)
By Jennie Windle