Remember the old movie “His Girl Friday”? Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell deliver a stellar depiction of life in the newsroom: hectic, loud, frantic, and intensely competitive. Now, imagine dropping a press release on the desk of brash newspaper editor Walter Burns and standing back smugly waiting for him to drop everything as he gobbles up the breaking news about your company’s new acquisition. Likely? Not very. And in today’s newsrooms, the internet has brought about a whole new level of competitive demand when it comes to deciding what’s newsworthy and what isn’t.
The good news is that you can take some tips from the email marketing world in order to grab that reporter’s attention and convince him that your press release is more newsworthy than the eighty-seven others he received that day.
Grab Attention Right From the Get-Go
Just as the subject line of an email will make or break the success of any given message, the headline you use for your press release will either shout “Newsworthy!” or “Boring!” If you’re pitching an item about your company’s growth, phrase it like this: “20% of new car shoppers are making decisions to go green with their vehicle choices.” Not like this: “XYZ car dealership experienced growth in the first quarter.”
Pitch It, Don’t Plop It
Email subscribers don’t waste their time on stuff that bores them, and neither will a news reporter. Don’t just plop your unadorned press release in the reporter’s inbox. He has no reason to spend ten minutes of his day reading your information unless you convince him that it would make a good story. So pitch it. Find an angle (local interest, new survey results, or connection to a current story) and include your most enticing tidbits of information.
Keep It Brief
Remember Walter Burns? Assume that your news reporter is every bit as harried and distractible as good ol’ Walter, so keep your communication with him short. Two or three paragraphs provide plenty of space to get the vital information across, with links to the actual press release for more information.
Make it Personal
Take the time to personalize each press release email you send with the news agency and the reporter’s name. Also, let him know why you’re contacting him in particular: he’s covered your business in the past, he typically covers items on this topic, or you think you have a great local interest angle.
Last but not least, spend at least a little time building a reliable media list for press release distribution. Just like your email subscriber list needs to be maintained and purged every so often for best results, so your media list should be kept succinct and active in order to get the greatest return for your efforts.