How to get your press release noticed

So you have a press release and want someone to actually pay attention to it.

After noting a fine internship with the Philadelphia Business Journal, I thought I might offer some advice I got there. Through that internship, I dealt with thousands of press releases, so let me help you out.

The publicity world is in the midst of plenty of conversations about bypassing media, trying direct-to-consumers press releases, but many criticize the practice.

 It’s not the purpose of public relations, they say. The point is to persuade media to tell their story.

If you’re in that camp, here are some thoughts about getting through to newspapers, journals, magazines and others through press releases.

Don’t lie.

I have gotten e-mails quite often from slick PR dudes who lied about meeting me at some event. It’s not true. I was an intern. I didn’t go to those events. It’s a tactic. I delete their press releases.

Include everything.

Should be obvious, but I’ve gotten press releaeses without contact information. Or the date of an event. Or why I should care. Also, send a graphic, a photo, image, or something else. When a newspaper is suddenly in a pinch for space and design is important – your throwaway image might be a saving grace.

E-mail.

The fax machine is dead. I have been in four different newsrooms where faxes just piled up. Oh, you called to follow up? Chances are, in my experience, if anyone tells you he found it, he is lying. Mail it? Just seems like an unnecessary cost for you. E-mail. E-mail. E-mail.

Be brief.

Additionally including your release in the body of the e-mail is great so I can decide if it’s worth my time, but attach a single sheet Word or PDF document. Space is always an issue on my end, so don’t take four pages, as I often received. Make it easy for me to print – a single sheet. …A single sheet. 

The subject line is absolutely key. Don’t get too showy, it needs to begin with exactly for what you’re submitting your release, but a brief description. I got hundreds of submissions for specific departments, like something that the Business Journal called “People on the Move,” all with the same subject. List where you’re directing your release, but give something particular to yours, “People on the Move – Christopher Wink.” When I got too many with the same subject, I ignored many – just deleted them. With a name or something specific, that subject becomes easily searchable in Gmail or Microsoft Office.

Writing Releases

Get something interesting about the person, event or activity high. If he’s traveled, speaks another language, grew up in the city, lived somewhere out of the region, has any arguably interesting quality at all, tell me. If the event has a long history Don’t write it like a news piece. That’s my job. Don’t give me “breaking news” if it isn’t breaking news.

Don’t make it the same damn thing every time. The trick doesn’t involve being a particularly strong writer at all.

I don’t think puns work, really. You will get initial attention from jaded journalists making fun of you, but nothing more. Here are two actual examples from releases I received.

“As animal lovers, we’re very pleased to get in the doghouse with [animal adoption group].”

“I’m so pleased that more than 1,000 bowlers decided to spare their time for this worthy cause..” emphasis theirs

I am genuinely less likely to cover your event, group or individual because of something that.

Image courtesy of RainerPR.

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