The media is unpredictable. A hot button issue one day will likely be old news the next. With these ever changing preferences, it can be difficult to latch on to what’s trending at any given time. This is exactly what PR professionals are doing on a daily basis. In order to obtain news placements for your clients, you have to know what’s currently in the news. So how do you make a press release, pitch, or story idea “newsy”?
- Read the News
Don’t only read the news, read the articles written by reporters who you want to pitch to. You will get a sense for what kind of topics they cover, their writing style, and the kinds of things they will actually print. You can easily tailor a pitch or press release to a specific reporter or publication. The more relevant it is to the reporter, the more likely your piece will make it to print.
- Don’t Spam Journalists
You want your press releases to be targeted. If you are arbitrarily sending story pitches blindly to an email list, you WILL get ignored. Worse yet, any future press release you send to a journalist you spammed before may end up seeing the same fate, whether you tailored it to the publication or not.
In my toolbox: At Amplify Relations, we use the program Cision PR, which allows users to search for journalists by location, publication type, job title, and beat. This way, I can easily narrow down who I want to pitch a press release or news story too. I can even set up automatic emails with stories by specific reporters, from certain publications, or containing a set of keywords!
- Add Quotes
Quotes will humanize a press release, and will give more credibility to the content of your story. Plus, it’s one less source a reporter will have to seek out themselves to create their story. Offer pertinent quotes with good information and substance, and your reporter will likely publish at least fragments of your original press release.
- 5 W’s
Within the first paragraph, the reporter who received your press release should be able to answer the 5 W’s: Who? What? When? Where? Why? In reviewing your press release, ask yourself these 5 W’s. There’s no news angle if these questions can’t be answered.
- Recognize Deadlines
We all work off of deadlines, but the most important deadline to keep in mind is the journalist’s. If your release is timely, you will want to make sure to give plenty of lead time for a reporter to cover it. Don’t send something untimely or “breaking” and give no wiggle room for the reporter to fit into their print schedule. This is how your once newsy press release will become old news.
It’s important to remember that journalists scan across dozens – sometimes even hundreds – of news pitches and press releases daily. To avoid instant-deletion, realize that you need to pitch something worth reading – something newsy. Find your angle and go with it, just make sure that it’s interesting not only to you and your client, but to your client’s audience, your journalist, and your journalist’s readership.