Journalists these days don’t have time to wade through the bulk of releases they receive by email, snail mail and fax. Padded envelopes that promise TMI from a company are thrown away, unopened, whiles others land in File 13 because of poor writing or proofing.
When you send a news release to a media agency, you are competing with hundreds – sometimes thousands – of others scrambling to get their attention. Your release must stick out by being short, concise, well-written, error-proof, with answers to the who, what, when, where, why, how.
All news releases should include a boilerplate, or standard text, at the bottom. Most likely, this will be a three-to-four sentence author bio, with a link to a Web site or media center. For example: Angela Wilson is a Web-savvy marketing/promotions specialist. She works with authors across the nation on publicity and promotions. Her advice appears in at the blog, www.askangelawilson.com.
Include a clear embargo date, if necessary. Reporters work ahead, so don’t be surprised if they call you before the information in your release is officially public.
To also stand out from the crowd, you should follow up with a phone call. Not only does this put you directly on an editor or reporter’s radar, but it allows you to gauge their interest in doing an interview.
Releases should also be sent early, with a follow up release and phone call closer to the event. More media professionals respond to eReleases, or e-mailed news releases, than to those sent by fax or USPS.
These additional pointers will help you cultivate news releases guaranteed to generate buzz.
Print News Releases (View Sample)
▪ Use one page. Period. A rule of thumb in some newsrooms is the longer the release, the worse the event/book/movie, etc. Exception: When you are outlining a list of quarterly or annual events, you may use more than one page. For example, authors on a 25-city book tour will need more than a page to list the times, dates and places they will be.
▪ Include a publicist contact – not yourself. If you do, fewer people will see the legitimacy of your release. Ask a friend or family member to act as the initial contact. They can take messages that you can return later, or book interviews, signings or other appointments. This is time consuming, but adds an added layer of legitimacy to your release – especially if you are self published.
▪ Boldface hyperlinks so they stand out from the copy. Reporters are more likely to visit these sites than read through your entire release.
Electronic News Releases
▪ Keep them short – no more than 3 long, or 4 short paragraphs.
▪ Include live links. Don’t force reporters to track down your Web site. They don’t have time – and won’t, in most cases.
▪ Use a blog format. Do not use standard paragraph format. Everything electronic should be in blocks, with an additional line between paragraphs. Single-spaced type runs together and is unreadable, which leads editors to trash your release whether it is well-written or not.
▪ Always include your name, position and email address in the copy. Editors forward emails to reporters, and sometimes the stream of addresses does not carry over.
▪ Add a link to your online media center. Don’t have one? Get one – now. Read this article to get details on what your media center needs.
▪ Be sure your releases are fed through RSS or another feed. Also post a ink to these in appropriate forums and social networks online.
▪ Do NOT include attachments. SPAM filters will likely shuffle your email out of the mix and it will never reach the hands of the editors and reporters. This is another reason it is vitally important to load images, PDF excerpts and other typical attachments into a media center, where they can download it themselves.
As always, have someone else proof your work. You are too close to the release to check it properly. An extra set of eyes can catch flaws you can’t, and also offer up suggestions to improve the copy.