Earlier in the week, I shared my expertise on how to write an effective press release.
Unfortunately, putting together a well written and interesting news piece is only half of the story.
In the second edition of my two-part guide to getting into the news, I’m going to take you through how to increase your chances of getting your press release out of a journalist’s inbox and into editorial.
Think like a subeditor
Most of us will recall receiving emails we delete without reading. The same is true for editors (given the volume of emails they receive on a daily basis, this is hardly surprising). As a result, a great subject line is worth its weight in gold. Your email title needs to make a journalist want to open it. Although the subject line needs to be on topic, make it intriguing, funny, or even shocking. Make that editor want to find out more.
Pick your timing carefully
National newspapers receive more releases than any other publications, so it’s vital to give them a call to discuss what you’re going to send to them beforehand. If not, you’ll run the risk of getting lost amongst the mass of other material. Early mornings are the best time to catch a national journalist. This is because their editorial meetings - where they discuss the stories they’re preparing - take place mid-morning. It’s no good calling at 5.00pm - all stories will be written by then.
Sunday newspaper journalists don’t work on Mondays. They work late on Fridays and all day Saturday, so it’s advised to add a home or mobile number on your release.
Weekly publications will have a ‘dead day’. Find out when this is and use this day to run your story past an editor. This gives them time to reflect on your ideas.
Monthly publications need at least a month to print a story, some even longer (up to three months), so knowing when the editorial submission dates are for various features is certainly worthwhile. In fact, drawing up an electronic calendar, which you can add to as and when you find out key dates for various publications, will help remind you of their deadlines.
Identify your target
Unfortunately, many press releases fail before they’ve even seen the light of day.
They’re sent to the wrong journalist who has nothing to do with the subject matter concerned, and, in many cases, are even sent to the wrong type of publication.
For example, City Editors are only ever after financial news. This doesn’t stop them receiving a plethora of irrelevant information, from the opening of new restaurants to the launch of a new perfume. This is often the result of ‘blanket mailings’, which, not only doesn’t work, but, can be counter-productive - your company will end up being associated as one that has nothing important to say.
It’s always worthwhile taking the extra effort to establish the right point of contact. If you can’t stretch to a PR company armed with a contact database containing up-to-date journalist details, you’ll need to carry out this work yourself. Look at newspaper websites and e-zines for contact details, type in your subject area and take note of the journalists currently covering similar issues.
Written by Emma Plummer, Crafted’s PR Director