Pop quiz: How many media releases does a newsroom receive in a week?
- a) bunches
- b) oodles
- c) gobs
- d) all of the above
If this was a game show and you picked “all of the above,” you’d likely win patio furniture, a fancy set of luggage, or at the very least, a set of Ginsu steak knives.
Newsrooms receive volumes of media releases and — having worked in a newsroom for two decades, — I can tell you that most of the releases that get tossed into the circular file or lost in the email abyss, do so for a handful of reasons.
The most likely reason is that you buried what was most important. Here’s what reporters want to know right up front:
Contact information. Consider this critical housekeeping. Right away, let them know whom they should contact for more information. Don’t make editors or reporters look for it, or they’ll be less likely to pursue the story.
Don’t let bad headlines happen to good people. Stop them in their tracks with a headline that draws their attention. This is your first point of sale. If you don’t snag them here, the rest of your release won’t see the light of day. Keep it concise and to the point, but it must be captivating and relevant to readers or viewers. Learn from these headline mistakes.
Include the essentials. Journalists call them the five Ws: who, what, where, when, and why. Go ahead and throw in “the how” if it serves a purpose. Clarity and brevity are important.
Know the media outlet you’re pitching. Whether you’re aiming for coverage from TV, print or radio, be sure your release provides what they need to cover the story with ease. Clearly highlight video, photo and interview opportunities. Explain why the information is important to their readers, viewers or listeners. Here are some tips on how to pitch to editors based on industry.
Test your links. If you are including Web links, make sure they work. You won’t get a second chance once you hit send.
Tell them who you are. At the end of your release, include a description of your company or client. Be concise and clear.
Check your work. Spell check. Print it. Proof read. Read it aloud. Then have a few more sets of eyes review your work. Mistakes are amateur; you’re not.
There are many great online resources to help you avoid simple mistakes that hinder your efforts. For example, avoid these two days of the week when sending out a media release.