Blame the publicist, not the press release

8 Sep

There has been some talk recently that public relations professionals are single-handedly killing PR. It’s not the press release itself that is getting on journalists’ nerves, it’s how publicists are writing it.

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How to resurrect the press release and earn the credibility all publicists need:

The press release is still an effective tool, and is generally appreciated by journalists ONLY IF it is executed correctly. Here are some tips on how to do just that:

#1) No news IS bad news: The best way to ensure that a journalist will never run your story is to send a press release lacking news. It’s Journalism 101: in order for there to be an article there has to have a newsworthy element to the story. The same goes for a press release–you’re pitching a journalist to write your article. Make sure you are sending them a newsworthy story so they can!

#2) Know who you are pitching: Yes, it is time consuming double checking your database hits with the stories that the journalist has actually written, but it is the most effective way to reach the right journalist. Check out what the journalist has recently published and make sure that your pitch is in line with what they often write about. Saying something like “I read your recent article about the green fashion show and thought you would be interested in this story.” It’s a great way to build rapport as a publicist, and let the journalist know you’ve done your research.

#3) Don’t try to be deceptive: I have often heard that a huge annoyance to journalists is receiving a pitch with “re:” in the subject line. Trying to fool a journalist into thinking that you have replied to one of their emails will only land you in the trash sooner. Which leads us to the next tip…

#4) Use a subject line that stands out: It is often helpful to journalists to see “Story Pitch: Green fashion show” as a subject line, rather than “Hey, Karen. Have you heard?” Don’t be sneaky. Tell them exactly what it is they are receiving. It is more likely to be read if it doesn’t look like spam.

#5) Proof-read your email: Since joining the editing team of an online publication I have received countless pitches from publicist that contain massive spelling and grammar mistakes. The first way to establish your credibility is to be able to master AP style in emails to journalists. Proof-read! I cannot stress that enough.

One of the biggest reasons why journalists are annoyed by press releases is because publicists often neglect these few things. Win back the credibility of the press release (and the publicist) by doing these things. We need all the credibility we can get, guys.

Are there any other tips floating around out there?

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