Regardless of how well your press release is written (although spelling and grammatical errors certainly detract from its effectiveness), there's a few facts about editors and press releases...
- Most editors get hundreds of press releases every week.
- Seldom do they have the time to read every single announcement.
- Some press releases don’t stand a chance of being read depending on the editor.
- If they do not immediately recognize the contact name or if they’re just having a bad day, your announcement may be tossed before they get to the second graph.
- Sometimes your press release never even makes it to the correct editor.
- It may get stuck in the fax machine or the mail room may accidentally deliver it to the circulation department.
- It may be at the bottom of a stack of unrelated faxes or letters and not see the editor's desk for weeks, if at all.
The following ideas are designed to ensure that your press release gets read by the right editor!
(They come from a freelance newspaper reporter and former Public Relations writer - talking from experience on both sides of the fence...)
- Follow up every press release submission with a phone call.
Do not settle for speaking to the receptionist or leaving a message on voice mail.
Do not be satisfied with talking to whichever reporter happens to answer the phone.
Keep calling until you reach the right person.
- Contrary to popular belief, the editor may not be the best person for you to talk to about your press release.
If you do not achieve the response you're seeking by speaking to the editor, consider other contact options, like reporters, interns, or an assistant editor.
- If you’re sending your press release to publications that you read frequently, you should be able to identify a few reporters, who write articles about the service or product you’re promoting.
Ask to speak to one of those writers by name.
Request to be connected directly to a reporter’s personal voice mail instead of the editors' general mailbox.
- If you don’t know the names of any reporters, ask to speak to the “business” writer or the “features” copy-editor, based upon the type of product, service or event you’re promoting.
- Think of any contacts or friends of friends whose name you could repeat to an editor or reporter as a familiar reference that may help to establish your credibility.
It can make a difference in some cases.
- Try to remember any previous events you attended where a reporter was present.
Even if you had a very brief encounter with him or her, it’s worth mentioning.
Generally speaking, reporters see so many faces and meet so many people every week that they probably will not be able to recall whether they were ever introduced to you or not.
- Compliment the reporter on his outstanding coverage of the latest celebration or in-depth series of articles about the best businesses of the year.
Or schmooze the editor with similar praise of his writers, front page design or choice of featured content.
- Remember the goal of your press release.
Be able to tell the editor and/or reporter in 20 words or less why your press release is important.
by William Strunk Jr.