Is There Anybody Out There?
For whatever reason, many organisations handle their communications in-house.
It makes sense. They’re likely to be employees, know the business inside out and are part of the team.
If it’s your job to get your employer in the news, whether through your local or national press, radio, TV or trade press, you’ll know some stories simply don’t see the light of day.
But what if this is happening again and again?
I’m increasingly called in by organisations facing this quandary.
So, what are the major clangers when it comes to cultivating the media?
Is it news?
For me, this is the biggie.
You might think your story merits a press release, but does it really? Is it actually newsworthy?
Could it be better suited to a features writer? Might it work better as a blog or socials post? Could it form a persuasive and topical opinion piece?
Or, it might be that you need to pay for your article to appear as part of an advertorial (in which case, you should approach their commercial team, not the journalists).
Be selective as to what you package up as a press release. Repeatedly targeting journalists with non-stories will damage the relationships you’re trying to cultivate.
When headlines fall flat
Remember, journalists receive hundreds of press releases every day, with many deleted and unopened.
If you want yours to stand out, you’ll need a strong headline that summarises the story and grabs attention. And that doesn’t mean using the word URGENT. They’ll decide if it’s important or not, not you and, if they want to pursue it, you’ll soon know.
(PS if you really do have an urgent message for a particular journalist, pick up the phone!)
Burying the ‘top line’
Assuming your email is opened, ensure you haven’t buried the best bit – ‘the top line’ – in the last paragraph. I’ve seen it again and again. Get the angle up top, draw the journalist in. You’re there to help the journalist, not the other way around.
Wake me when it’s over
If your story’s worth telling, you should be able to summarise it.
Show me a journalist with the time or inclination to read a three-page press release peppered with five quotes that say the same thing. Any quotes should enhance and bring your story to life. They shouldn’t be there because your Board members have big egos.
Sales pitch alert
When a journalist decides to pursue a story, it’s because it’s newsworthy and a good fit for their audience. They don’t owe you anything so, unless you’re a household name, keep your company name out of the intro and opening paragraph and focus on the story.
Unless you’re writing for the trade press, where the writers should ‘get’ your sector, ditch the jargon and academic speak. Focus on concise, well-written plain English.
Last but not least, how did you issue your press release?
The way you send it, the images or links you attach, the timing and who you targeted is critical and could make or break any prospect of coverage.
If you’d like support on maximising your messaging, or need a fresh set of eyes to consider your content, drop me a line and let’s talk – firstname.lastname@example.org / 07912 324 264.