How to Get Editors to Read Your Press Releases Understanding these considerations, mistakes and myths will increase the probability of publication.
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Q:What can I do to increase my chances of having my press releasesused by a newspaper or magazine?
A:Whether you're creating your PR, thinking about creating it oryou're just about to launch it, beware of these shortfalls,mistakes and other considerations:
Editors hate promotion. The purpose of publicity is toinform the public about news, events, people and things of thatnature, not to tell a story. Editors and reporters aresensitive to what the reader wants to read. Since a significantportion of news in a news publication comes from press releases,editors want to see news. They hate promotion. If your pressrelease contains information that is purely promotional and you tryto disguise it as news, editors can pick out the promotion a mileaway. Don't do it. Save yourself the time and aggravation.Editors and reporters form opinions and perceptions about thosethat submit releases. If you continue the promotional angle, youwill get the reputation of being a promoter. When you have realnews to communicate, editors will then ignore you because of thatreputation. Think news. Put yourself in the editor/reporter'sshoes and the reader's shoes, and communicate newsworthy facts,not personal, promoting stories.
Don't put out a press release announcing a time-sensitiveevent the day beforehand. Planning a publication and laying outa publication takes more time than overnight. Even though you seeyesterday's events communicated in today's newspaper, itdoesn't mean there was a happenstance layout with no priorplanning done. Editors and copy editors have a place for breakingstories, event announcements and general PR. Respect the fact thatthere is a degree of planning involved. Turn in any press releasesrelated to time-sensitive events early enough so that an editor canplan accordingly. Communicating information today about an eventtomorrow is not soon enough for most editors. Planning your own PRand associated press releases must be part of your event, productlaunch or personnel planning.
Make sure that your publicity has a news angle to it. Younow know editors hate promotion. What they do like is news.Creating a newsworthy angle to anything increases the probabilitythat something will get published. Sometimes just using the word"news" in the headline of a press release will indicatethat. Usually anything with a time or date associated with it isconsidered news. Think announcements, events, happenings andoccasions.
Local angles to national stories are also considered news. Thesesometimes can be human-interest stories. The national story is morenewsworthy and satisfies the news requirement of most editors.Anniversaries are news. Promotions in management are news. Seminarannouncements are news. New product information is news.
Consider what readers want to read. Put yourself in theirshoes. Some news doesn't matter to the readership. This iswhere identifying your target market comes in. You want topublicize in those places that are seen by your target market. If aparticular publication doesn't necessarily reach your productmarket, there is no reason to communicate your news. A businessseminar announcement is of no use to a gardening club.Reorganization in the largest business in town is of no interest tosports junkies. Consider the publication; consider the readership;consider what else is publicized in a particular publication.
Don't call the editor to see when your release mightrun. Over half of the press releases an editor receives arediscarded, ignored or not used. Press releases hit an editor'se-mail inbox or his or her fax machine sometimes likepopcorn--there's more than can be handled, managed andcertainly published. An editor is generally in charge of otherpublication content. The day in the life of an editor is a casestudy in prioritization and time-management. Receiving a phone callfrom everyone who sent in a press release is an obstacle theydon't need nor choose to deal with. Once again, if you bug aneditor and ask about placement, you will get a reputation. Editorsneed to be handled with TLC.
If you do contact editors or reporters, first ask them ifthey are "on deadline." Sometimes there is reason tocontact an editor. Maybe it's returning a phone call they madeto you for more information. The first thing you should say whenphoning an editor is, "Are you on deadline?" Sometimesit's 3:00 p.m., and they have a 5:00 p.m. deadline they aretrying to meet and have three hours worth of work to cram intothose two hours. Fielding a call related to prospective PR ruinsthat time-management. Editors want the opportunity to say,"I'm busy, leave me alone, I still want to talk to you butI've got a deadline." Don't be offended by this; itspart of the PR business.
Paid advertising generally has no bearing on publicityplacement. One myth is that paid advertisers get preferentialtreatment for PR placement. This is a myth. Editors generallydon't talk to the advertising department. Now common sense doesprevail when trying to take care of larger accounts and greatadvertisers. There may be an occasion where preference is given,but the general rule of thumb is that you won't getpreferential treatment for PR if you advertised.
The tips mentioned above also apply to broadcast news; justreplace the word "editor" with "producer."
Understanding some of these quirks, rules, myths andconsiderations will increase your probability of getting your newsplaced in the publications that your target markets read.
Alfred J. Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing and PRconsultant, direct-mail promotion specialist, principle ofmarketing consulting firm Marketing Now, and president and owner ofThe Ink Well, a commercial printing and mailing company in Wheaton,Illinois. Visit his Web sites at http://www.market-for-profits.com and http://www.1-800-inkwell.com, or e-mail him email@example.com.
The opinions expressed in this column are thoseof the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended tobe general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areasor circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consultingan appropriate expert, such as an attorney oraccountant.