We write a lot about relationships here. You know the kind, the one between PR representative (either agency or in house) and the media themselves (traditional and new).
It’s a relationship that matters, especially when you want a favour, are pitching direct story ideas to editors, or at the very least want to get to the front of the queue when those news rooms are deciding what to run.
But no matter how great your relationship is, if the news you are peddling isn’t relevant to the media you are talking to, then they will not run it.
The editor may open your email because they know your name which, trust us, is a bonus but they will still open it either way if your news is bang on.
This is where a well crafted media release or press release comes in.
You don’t have to have a relationship with the people you are sending it to in order for them to hear you and run your message in their media. Besides, if you have a targeted and extensive database then it’s nigh on impossible to have a relationship with everyone in it.
What you do have to have is:
- News that is relevant to the media you are sending it to
- A short sharp email subject heading conveying that news (5-7 words is ideal, no need for Media Release in the subject heading as you’ve just wasted two words)
- A longer headline in the body of the email expanding on that news
- The guts of the news in the first paragraph in the body of the email
- Expansion on that news in the second paragraph in the body of the email
- Quotes from appropriate people (CEO, brand ambassador, celebrity) if needed
- Web ready images (up to 3) attached and captioned appropriately (Brand ambassador John Doe accepting his award, definitely nor IMG_087.jpg)
- A link to a dropbox or Google drive or an online image library with more images in high res – and, when appropriate, vision/video of interviews for television and online with audio for sound bytes for radio
- A contact number and email – you may choose to send releases from a a generic address or your own email address. If you choose a generic address make sure you have a contact person in the email and that the generic address is regularly checked
- A rocking database of core key contacts, journalists, news rooms, global, national, regional, local to send it to
- If you must attach your press release due to client demands then do so in a word document
- If you must attach your press release due to client demands in a PDF then attach the PDF and a word document (PDF can sometimes mess with copy and paste formatting for digital media)
- Email press release not Mailchimp or newsletter style programs. Why? Mailchimp can go to junk mail, Mailchimp is for newsletters and may be missed and Mailchimp newsletter formatting makes it again hard to copy and paste as can ruin digital formatting for Digital media.
Once the media receive your release, if it’s relevant to them then they will open it and read it.
Actually, they will scan it. Because time is important to everyone.
If they are a Chief of Staff or Newsroom editor they will put it in with all news relevant for that day and it will be decided where and when it will run – and they will not tell you (unless they have a long standing relationship with you, and even then it’s not a given).
If they are online they may just lift it and publish it as is and they will not tell you (again, unless you have a long standing relationship with them).
If they are a features editor they may file it to be considered for the next issue to be published.
If it’s irrelevant to them then it will be deleted.
Notice how we don’t focus on them replying to your release email or contacting you direct. That’s because if you’ve done your job it will run either way. Also notice how you did not need to know this media for that to happen. You just needed relevant news for them.
You just have to be timely in what you deliver and know how to deliver it effectively. If you bury your news in a long winded subject heading or waffle on with flowery or earnest writing for paragraphs before getting to that news, then, well you won’t be heard at all.
Just because media do not respond to a media release does not mean your news will not run.
If you’ve given them everything they need then there’s no need for them to respond to you. So send it knowing you’ve got it right and then move on and check your clipping service and Google in the week ahead.
Do not follow up a release, do follow up a pitch. Media Releases are public news sent to numerous media. It’s why you don’t put “Dear xxxx” at the top of your release. You just put your release copy.
If you are pitching then “Dear xxx” is totally appropriate. But pitching is offering a journalist an exclusive angle or interview or story idea, so following up is appropriate. More on that in our pitching blogs.
If you consistently and regularly make a journalist’s life easier by providing appropriate resources in a user friendly way then the journo will look to you every time they want to run something within your industry.
Now that puts you ahead of the pack.
Next up? Media relationships – how to have one, how to keep one, how to share one with your clients.