There are people on the Internet that will sell you the email addresses of editors, reporters and journalists for you to send out a press release. How did they get those emails? Did the editors request to be put on these lists? Do they look forward to the press release you are sending out?
The answer is no!
Sending unsolicited email, even press releases, is spam. To most of us, spam is a nuisance. To professionals who rely on email for much of their work, spam is a nightmare. Be careful that you send a press release only to those with whom you have an existing relationship.
In the years I spent contacting and querying editors to accept press releases for eReleases.com, I heard many horror stories. Some editors were forced to change their email addresses because of press release-related spam. The sad part: most of these releases were untargeted. Press releases on gardening products were being sent to computer hardware magazine editors. It shouldn’t have to be this way. When you send a press release, make sure it is targeted to the correct journalists.
Some editors told me point blank: “if you don’t query me, I will never read your press release.” A few even told me they were compiling a blacklist of companies so these “spammers” would never receive press in their newspapers, magazines, and trade journals.
If you send press releases yourself, we recommend:
Be patient. Sending a press release is like fishing.
Not every editor or reporter will bite at your submission.
Not every cast will produce a catch.
You may have to rewrite the release and try again, or wait until you have another event, announcement, or idea to submit.
Don’t send the same story with a new headline and opening paragraph. Brainstorm different approaches. What does your industry report on? Is there a story there you could develop involving your company? What does your industry ignore? Is that an opportunity or a signal that they just aren’t interested on that topic? You will only know if you try and send out a press release to test. Then keep trying. A successful PR campaign is make up of a series of press releases, often a minimum of six, each testing and trying different approaches to garner media attention.
Here are some questions that may generate possible press release topic ideas:
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What Makes a Press Release Actually Newsworthy?
No one wants to be the person known for “crying wolf.” Yet that’s precisely the reputation many public relations consultants develop after sending out countless press releases with little newsworthy content. These public relations spammers risk losing credibility with editors and reporters. When they finally do have an earth shattering press release, it may end up filling a waste paper basket rather than newspaper column inches. So when is your press release really newsworthy? Here’s are a few simple steps to ensure you’re getting as much good publicity as possible out of your press release. (Read more … )
Bill Gates, PR Bankruptcy, and Your Last Dollar
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Press Release Distribution for Maximum Media Pickup
“I’m old and new in the business. That is, I was in the business for a long time and have been away from PR for more than seven years. I believe folks are emailing press releases today rather than snail-mailing them. Is that correct? And if I don’t have the budget to use your service, what is the best way to get my press release out?”
The best way to distribute a press release is to take your newsworthy announcement and put it in the hands of the five or six key media who cover your industry. That isn’t easy for most people. (Read more … )
Using a Newswire Service to Distribute a Press Release
So you have a fine press release written, but you don’t know quite what to do with it. You decide to blast an email to your best contacts. You get no response. You pitch some people over the phone, but they’re not interested. So it’s time to go to the newswire or wire. (Read more … )
Make Sure Your Press Release Contains “Just the Facts”
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Preparing a Press Release? Think Global, Look Local
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You don’t need to be a public relations professional to send out press releases to media outlets. These answers are to some of the most frequently asked questions our staff gets asked regularly and will guide you in crafting a stellar press release that gets results.
Each section provides a brief overview and helpful tips, but you’ll want to explore the included resource links that dive deeper into the topic.
Press releases are a vital industry tool for marketing professionals to communicate with journalists about newsworthy events. Reportedly, the first press release in the U.S. was sent out in 1906 by Ivy Lee, who convinced his client to issue a written statement explaining an Atlantic City train wreck. Over the last century, the press release has become the primary way companies publicly address critical issues.
The goal of a press release is to catch the interest of a media outlet or journalist so that they share your story in a way that enhances your image. Free media exposure is invaluable for introducing your company to new audiences, staying connected with current customers or positioning your company as an industry leader.
The best press releases achieve all three.
Your priority is to announce something newsworthy, which means it is timely, exciting and relevant. The text, written in a journalistic style, presents the main facts but also hypes the organization. Tread here as if you were on thin ice because there is also an inherent bias in your positive spin. Avoid writing this promotional tool in a salesy tone.
Since press releases provide journalists with current news topics, they are a vital source of information.
Assignment editors rely on these pieces to keep them informed about what is happening in a community or industry. Writers use press releases to generate story ideas, gather company background details, and connect with reliable interview sources for articles they are putting together.
When scrambling to fill column space while facing a tight deadline, editors covet content that is ready for publishing. Smaller publications sometimes print stories word for word from submitted press releases. You become a reliable source when you can solve these pain points for media contacts. Focus on consistently delivering high-quality text that is print-ready, and always be ready to offer up an insight or quotable source on a trending topic.
From bloggers to daily beat writers, local newspapers to regional monthly magazines, the media is slammed with marketing spam. Dozens of untargeted, irrelevant press releases pour in each week among the dozens more that are sharing valuable information. Proper formatting and professional submission strategies will automatically get you noticed in a clogged inbox, but your text must have an edge to make the shortlist for the assignment calendar.
The idea that a topic is newsworthy is entirely subjective.
Your job is to figure out which writer at which publication is most likely to find your topic interesting enough to cover. Interest is higher when the subject focuses on timely coverage of current events, reveals new information or features recognizable people. While there are many ideas that can generate buzz, the emphasis will generally fall into one of these three categories:
Special events, product releases, location changes and fundraising campaigns are developments that your customer base needs to know. Local newspapers and trade journals regularly publish kudos for job promotions, award recipients and new hires. You can introduce the availability of a new program, announce expansion plans or publicize a blowout sale.
Feature press releases have a slightly different motivator. Your organization might have an exciting person to spotlight, major win to celebrate or insightful analysis of a trending issue. The story, which is not as time-sensitive, has a human-interest angle that tugs at the emotions or offers a solution to a problem.
Always carefully weigh the benefits over the drawbacks of publicly responding to negative publicity. However, crisis press releases are useful when you need to defend your position, issue a product recall, explain a situation or lessen the impact of a negative narrative.
Sending out an impressive press release requires several steps, but the process involves two distinct parts: generating creative, newsworthy content and effectively distributing it to targeted media.
Once you have identified a newsworthy topic, you must gather enough information to write a compelling news story. This process may involve researching industry trends, finding relevant statistics from reputable sources, and interviewing company stakeholders. When crafting the content, always prioritize what the audience needs to know over what you want to share. Your pitch should be concise, accurate and purposeful but also have a creative edge.
Include the human element whenever possible.
A stellar press release goes beyond hyping up a product. It also delivers interview points that speak about the benefits they gained or the lessons they learned. When you have a solid story to present, begin researching media outlets that are most likely to be interested in the topic. Another approach is to identify a writer in your industry and shape your story to fit their interests.
Even if you write a stellar news release and pitch it to the perfect person at the right publication, many outside factors affect whether an editor picks up your piece. Space may be tight, and they may have featured a similar product recently, or the seasonal timing doesn’t match up. Maybe you sent it on a wrong day?
The key to getting press releases published is to keep trying and to do your research.
Verify a publication’s lead time so that you aren’t pitching an autumn story when the October content was decided back in July. Reporters do not like last-minute notifications. Editorial calendars, which outline upcoming featured themes, are great brainstorm boosters. You must also understand the company’s query and submission process to avoid the automatic trash bin. Most companies prefer email communication, but many still accept snail mail, fax transmissions and phone calls.
While you need to limit the information that you send out, editors love receiving photos and graphics with press releases. Making this is your opportunity to make an unforgettable impression, so select engaging action photos that pull in readers. When appropriate, include an in-depth press kit that provides a more extensive overview of the company.
There are many methods for getting press releases published, ranging from the DIY approach to hiring a press release distribution service provider. Wire sources, such as PR Newswire, and online PR hosting sites can help distribute your press release to a broader audience.
Be wary of free offers that deliver low-quality services, such as skimping on editorial feedback or blasting thousands of irrelevant contacts. Google’s ranking algorithm penalizes your press release if it is hosted on a spammy content site, and you lose credibility with media outlets. Thoroughly seek out reviews to compare service providers.
Picking the right person to pitch your press releases is critical to getting your product, service or event covered.
Traditionally, press releases are sent to assignment editors, senior journalists and beat reporters. With the explosion of new media platforms, also targeting bloggers, podcast hosts and social media influencers boosts your potential exposure.
The right person is someone who specializes in your subject. Since it is their job to cover everything that relates to that topic extensively, they are often searching for new approaches to a storyline. The fastest way to get rejected is to send out an off-topic press release. Computer software announcements sent to a lifestyle editor get trashed in an instant. Some editors get so fed up with spam that they blacklist companies from their entire publication.
Don’t let that happen to you.
Overpitching will also get you labeled as a spammer. The worst thing you can do is bombard a contact with multiple queries. Remember, you should only share real news, which is not likely happening weekly. Pitching several reporters at the same publication is taboo, so only query one person per news outlet. If you do not receive a timely response, then you can pitch the story to another publication.
Cultivating relationships is the best way to establish your credibility as a subject matter expert. Forward story to ideas to your favorite reporters even if they don’t tie into your product. Offer insightful comments on their online posts. Once a journalist trusts you as an honest, reliable source, they will pay attention to the press releases you send them.
You don’t need to purchase a database of editors and publishers to pitch your press release. However, knowing who to send your press release to requires a ton of research, so subscription databases save you significant time. Since the product’s success depends on accuracy, these resources are carefully vetted and routinely updated so that they remain current in a quickly evolving industry.
If you are going solo, then examine local and trade publications for media members who write about your industry. All contact information, including email addresses, is typically available online or with a quick phone call.
With today’s 24-hour news cycle spanning across newspapers, magazines, blogs, company newsletters, trade publications, television stations, video channels, and audio podcasts, you have thousands of options for finding an audience. Each of these platforms compete to land the most engaging stories, so they are eager to hear from high-quality sources.
Your press release pitch must be a perfect fit for the media outlet and its audience. While you might be on-topic, verify that another brand hasn’t covered your angle already. Look at past issues to determine if the story needs a new spin.
Use your judgment on pitching to hundreds of media outlets. Casting such a wide net with generic content rarely results in in-depth coverage since reputable media outlets thrive on producing original content. An exclusive can persuade a publication to cover the story, but you risk never getting a single media clip if the assignment falls through.
Newsworthy announcements that have widespread appeal are better topics for big pushes to as many relevant media outlets as possible. Paid press release services can effortlessly broadcast your news to thousands of contacts. Upload your press release to the system and then opt to reach all registered contacts on the media list or target your distribution by trade categories and locations.
While you have some creative freedom in how you structure the design, professional press releases have specific formatting elements. Since the standard news release is one page or roughly 500 words, brevity is required. Write the entire piece from the third-person perspective.
The basic press release template includes your full contact details, an intriguing headline and a punchy summary of the announcement. Follow the location and dateline stamp with a catchy lead that communicates the essential facts of who, what, when, where and why.
The body consists of three to six paragraphs that include at least one content-rich quote and a closes with a call to action. Conclude every press release with the same boilerplate message that provides an overview of your company’s mission and key messages. This text helps establish brand consistency. End with ### or -30- centered at the bottom of the last page. In journalistic jargon, this means “the end.”
For more information on how eReleases can help you achieve your marketing goals, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page. We guide you through best practices, such as how many hyperlinks to include and give critical tips on things like the best timing for issuing a press release. You’ll also get a crash course on the benefits of working with a press release distribution service.
Mickie Kennedy, Founder & President
eReleases Press Releases