There are three key elements to getting your press release into the right hands to give the best chance of media coverage.
- Make it look right
- Get the recipient list right
- Choose the right way to distribute it
Making it look right needs attention to the Headline, the Story, and the attached image.
The Headline is what catches the journalists’ attention, and must hook them straight away. A journalist gets many tens, if not hundreds, of press releases a day, with senders pushing for theirs to be the one that gets picked up. A journalist will not go further than the headline in the email if it doesn’t look different. So this has to be a balance between conveying the story, and being very catchy, all within 14 words.
Be a bit provocative if need be. It is better to be looked at and rejected, than not looked at at all.
The Story, once a journalist is past the Headline, is what will decide them to cover the release, or not.
It has to be different, but factual. It might sound obvious, but it must be newsworthy.
Then the image must be good and relevant. Have a look at a couple of papers, or online news sites. More or less all good stories include a picture, and when issuing a press release, it is much more likely that a journalist will take it if it has an image with it.
Without a picture it is much harder to sell in to an editor. But the picture must be good. The simple test here is whether it would catch your attention when flicking through a newspaper. If not, it won’t work for a journalist either, but do try and include your brand name discretely in the background. Make sure too that it is of good quality.
Get the recipient list right
Getting the Recipient List is the next step, and this can be done in various ways. By engaging with a PR Agency, albeit not cheap, means that the job of finding the journalists and bloggers who might be interested is down to someone else.
If budget isn’t available, then creating a specific target list is often left with the issuer of the release, who would need to identify which outlets are appropriate, then scour those titles for the appropriate writers, and find their email addresses and Twitter addresses. A short cut would be to subscribe to one of the services that manages media lists, but again, this is not cheap, and there is no guarantee that the media list is accurate.
A cheaper option would be to use one of the full-service platforms, like JournoLink (www.journolink.com), who would manage the targeting as part of an overall service.
Choosing the Right Way to Distribute follows on from this.
Using a full-scale PR agency, depending on cost, could see the agency actively calling the journalists and pushing them to use the release. Some, with very good relationships, are successful; others are not. But this is a time-consuming exercise and as such, it can be expensive.
Most journalists too don’t like dealing with agencies, and much prefer to have a direct dialogue with the businesses themselves. Because of the often a direct email from a business works best.
A phone call prior to the email to check whether a journalist is interested often pays dividends, but not all will take the calls, especially if the call hits them at their deadline time when they simply will be singularly focused on getting whatever story they are working on into the system, and will have their editor on their back. So if a call is to be made, find out beforehand when the most convenient time is for the journalist.
The cheapest, and often most effective balance is to let an inexpensive online service manage the distribution, especially if this is in the name of the release issuer and not the online platform itself. It is important too to make sure that the platform being used targets journalists rather than simply posts the release on a notice board, or sends it down an untargeted newswire.
Remember: Appearance, Appeal, Targeting and Business Name.
Written by: Peter Ibbetson, Company Director