As a journalist, I might reject your PR piece for lots of reasons. Here are just a few. Avoid as many as you can, and you’re more likely to have positive results.
1) It's irrelevant to what I do or what I'm working on. If I cover health topics exclusively, don't send me a release about your B2B software. (you'd be amazed how many times I still get random people sending me weird releases that make no sense.)
2) The release is so poorly written, I can't find the benefit to my reader. (Hint: use the Brain Audit to write all you releases, and writers will LOVE you!) Just like with any other headline, you have precious few seconds to capture the reader’s attention. So, start with the problem, add in a solution and a target audience…you know the drill.
3) I'm just too busy. If I put a call out for experts, often I'll get inundated with too many great people to interview. I have to cut somewhere. And no, I won’t always have time to write a nice little email saying “sorry, I can’t use you this time.” I have a deadline to meet. Sorry if I hurt your feelings. Get over it.
4) You simply don't have the credentials that others do. If I'm working on a heavy research piece about cancer and weight loss, I'm not going to use an info-marketer as my source. Sorry, I'm going to pick the best known doctor I can find. If you're in an industry where credentials count–either get some credentials, or shoot for publications lower down on the prestige ladder first.
5) The release is too long. You want it to be one page. Period. Give me only what I need to pick up the phone and call you. Use your best stuff, your biggest benefits—but don’t go overboard with the exclamation points (In fact, just don’t use them. Really.)
6) I never saw it. Email is fast, easy and free. And I get a ton of it every day. What are the chances that your release gets buried in my inbox? Pretty good. If you can possibly get a physical address, mail the release. You’re looking at a possible gold mine in free publicity. Isn’t that worth 42 measly cents? No, they don’t print my mailing address in the magazine. Get creative. Call up the magazine and ask what address you should send a press release. If you know I’m a freelancer, go to my website and see if there are any clues there. Email if you have to, but postal mail is better.
7) You annoy me. Sometimes there's no other way to explain it–something isn't quite right about the release, or you send me releases all the time, or I'm having a bad day….
PR is a tricky business, that's why the good agents cost so much money. But as we've already mentioned, there are ways to get the publicity without going through the major publications.
Here’s a way to completely bypass journalists
Send your releases to, or make friends with the influential bloggers and podcasters in your area of expertise. Make comments on their blogs. Get to the point where they'll recognize your name. Then send them a release or make a casual reference to you appearing on their show. Often your target market will be more likely to read a certain high powered blog than the newspaper.
Better yet, start your OWN podcast. It's easy, gives you access to lots of great experts, and gives you expert status at the same time. Okay, that’s a whole ‘nother article.
(More articles by Julie Anne Eason at www.5000bc.com: Note: 5000bc is a paid membership site)
How the Publicity System Works: Part 1/4
How To Make Journalists Fall In Love With You: Part 2/4
Working Backwards: How to Get Journalists to Come to You: Part 3/4
Why a Mention in Retail News Monthly is Better Than Time Magazine: Part 4/4
Real live discussions about PR in the Cave
Julie Anne Eason was a freelance journalist for over a decade before turning to copywriting and marketing work. She also sat across the desk as an editor for a short time. Her final words of advice are “PR is tough. Keep trying and don’t take anything personally.” You can find her at http://JulieAnneEason.com or on Twitter as @mainecopywrtr
Jason Glover says
Here I sit proof reading one of our first major pieces of PR and then this article makes its way into my inbox.
Thank you Maam!
Couldn’t agree more with point 5. Quite often it is several pages and to be quite honest, I don’t bother reading it if i have quite a few of them to go through.