You think you know all about writing a professional press release. So, why aren’t you hearing from any of those reporters on your mailing list? The answer is simple. Your press release is competing not only against other companies trying to get their story in print or on the air but with actual news events. Yes, actual news trumps your story. So what can be done to increase the odds that your press release won’t end up in the trash?
1. First and foremost, your press release should be timely. Don’t send a reporter a press release about an event that has already happened. This is old news. They are looking for fresh stories to tell their respective audiences. Do send them a story about a future event and be sure to include the date and location in the subject line of your email or press release. Remember, if you want to get a story in a monthly publication, you will need to send your release at least eight weeks before the event to meet publication deadlines.
2. Send your press release to the right people. If you are sending a story about opening a new business in your area, your release should be addressed to the city and/or business editor. Similarly, if you are promoting a community health fair, you’ll want to send your press release to the health editor, and so on and so on.
3. Don’t expect to hear back from everyone who receives your press release. Chances are, unless your story is the next cure for cancer you may not get a single response. Don’t let this stop you from getting results. Instead, pick up the phone and call the individual recipients. In some cases, you will find that they have not read your release yet. Use the call as an opportunity not only to pitch your ‘current news story’ but to establish a relationship with the reporter or editor for future releases.
4. Remember that print, broadcast, radio, and the internet are all different mediums. If your story does not have much visual appeal, it is less likely to turn a broadcast journalist head. Think about it, why do so many five and six-car crash pile ups end up on TV newscast.
5. Make your releases look professional and if necessary ask someone else to proof it. There should be no mistakes, typos, etc. in a professional press release. Make sure your contact information is at the top and your headline tells exactly what your press release is about.