The Best Ways to Contact Editors

Want to know how to get in good with the media? Follow these tips to make sure your company gets written about.

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By Al Lautenslager

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Q:What is the best way to contact publication editors, and how isinformation best communicated to them?

A: Ihad the pleasure of moderating a panel discussion on The InsiderSecrets to Publicity. There were many questions asked, but themajority of them centered on finding out what editors areinterested in printing and determining how to contact theeditor/reporter. The answers from the three panelists had some verycommon threads that answer these questions.

Communications to editors/reporters vary with the person. It istruly their personal choice. Some of the older, experienced editorsstill like to sort through the faxes in their in-box, regardless ofhow busy they are or how tech-savvy they want to be. Some of theyounger reporters and newer publications always ask forcommunication by e-mail. Editors and reporters get hundreds ofcommunications a day. Making the communication stand out is key tomaking sure it won't go into the delete file or the waste bin.Editors expect e-mail communication and faxes, so don't thinkof it as spam or unsolicited faxes.

Some hometown publication editors like to get phone calls. Thisis especially true if they have the liberty of assigning a reporterto a story. Editors like two weeks lead time on features fordailies and more if it is something like a special edition ormonthly publication. They do not like calls requesting a story theday something is happening. Also don't call at the end of theday. Editors and reporters are on deadline at this time of day andare scrambling to finalize their stories. Call in the morning whenthings are more relaxed.

As far as what editors and reporters will publish, it dependsprimarily on the type of publication its readership. Daily localnewspapers are truly looking for items of local interest, nationalstories with a local angle, timely topics within the readershipcommunity and the like. National or regional publications arereporting on hot trends and items affecting the lives of thosereading the publication.

One editor wisely suggested: "First put yourself in thereaders' shoes and think of what you would like to read about.Then put yourself in my shoes, and think about what could bereported on out of all the stories I get that would appeal to ourreaders."

Summarize your information, and be prepared to tell theeditor/reporter why your story is important or of interest to theirreaders. Don't overwhelm them with too many details.

The preferred vehicle of communication is the press release. Theeditors on our panel stated that 99 times out of 100, pressreleases are edited and shortened. Because of this, they ask thatpress releases be short and to the point. Rambling and unnecessarydetails will get noticed and remembered in a negative way. Short isgood for press releases. This is one reason why the press releaseis preferred. When asked their opinion on the submission of featurearticles, all unanimously stated that these are not desired.That's what editors and reporters do--write stories about news.They usually don't want anyone else doing it, or they are notneeded. If, for some reason, an article is all they have, it willget rewritten and probably shortened anyway.

As I've said in previous articles, editors do not likepromotion. They like news. They see right through a PR spin to makepromotion news. If you get one past them, they remember. After all,they have control over what goes into the publication. Establishingas positive a relationship as possible is advantageous for anyonedesiring PR and using the media to tell their story.

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.comand http://www.1-800-inkwell.com, ore-mail him at al@market-for-profits.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.

Al Lautenslager

Author, Speaker, and Consultant

Al Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing expert, bestselling author, highly sought-after speaker, consultant, and entrepreneur. He is the principal of Market For Profits, a Midwestern-based marketing consulting firm; former president and owner of The Ink Well, a direct marketing, printing, and a Certified Guerrilla Marketing Coach.

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