How to make editors care about your press release – 11 PR tips

So the editor didn’t excitedly guarantee a reporter will be in your office by noon to take photos and interview everyone about your new branch opening/promotion/check-giving ceremony?

Or worse, maybe you got the fade away. It goes like this:

You: Hey, did you get that press release I sent you?
Editor: …. Oh, yes. … Yes. We did. Thanks.
You: OK. So …
Editor: Yeah. Yeah. I’m going to see if I can get a reporter on it. If not, I’ll put it in the business briefs next weeks. Thanks for that. Oh, darn it, a murder is happening outside my window this very second. I have to go report on that BYE. *click*

A day, a week, a year goes by and you scan the paper wondering, “where the heck is it?” That’s the fade away, man. It’s the same reaction high school boys get every day when they send flirty texts to the prettiest girl in their class. Newspaper editors are the prettiest girl in your class. And they get a lot of email begging for attention.

What’s a press release-pusher to do?

Here are 11 tips for submitting press releases to the media:

  1. Make sure people other than you will care about whatever you’re sending.
  2. Pick the right publication to send your release to. If you want a reporter to write about your company donating $300 to a kitten shelter, know that only a hyper-local reporter (think tiny newspaper).
    -A good way to do this is scan the publication first and see if it regularly runs similar stories.
    -Make sure there is a news hook. Something juicy a reporter will latch onto. Ideally, you’d hit on a bigger, newsworthy issue. (Ex: The local food pantry was bare. They turned 300 people away before employees of Company A brought load of canned goods into the small pantry Thursday ….)
  3. Put the newest, most important news in the first sentence.
  4. Write the cleanest copy you can. Read it out loud to make sure no sentences are no-breath-left long.
  5. If you’re writing for a specific section, stick to the word count the editor gives you. If it’s a press release aim for 350-500 words, a brief is usually 100 words, letters to the editor are usually 200 and op-eds are usually 350-500.
  6. Always include a photo in jpeg format. Ideally, it would be of a person doing something. That sounds obvious, but editors get lots of boring, out-of-focus photos of people standing and smiling at the camera. It’s better to have the people doing an action, like a close up of an employee petting a kitten s/he saved.
  7. If you’re sending a post-event press release, send it within a day of the event/news hook happening. Ideally, within an hour.
  8. Consider the audience. Ask yourself, “would a fifth-grader understand this, as it’s written?” If not, simplify (unless it’s a trade publication). Editors need their entire audience to understand your article, so make sure it’s clear – but not elementary.
  9. Remember that you’re an expert on your business, not writing. Don’t take offense if an editor edits you (it’s sort of their thing). Remember the pride isn’t in authorship, it’s in expertise.
  10. You can check-in to see if the paper is interested in writing something more, or running your press release, but accept it if you get the fade away or if you’re told no. Do the leg work to find out what that publication likes, what its writers write about and adjust your strategy.
  11. Try not to be needy. Don’t send your press release four times. Don’t overload editor’s inboxes with all your company’s news. Target your pitches and press releases – and only send your best, to ensure you get the coverage you want and that your company deserves.