A press release is a public announcement, notifying the media and other interested parties of an event or new product. It is usually written in a concise format to keep things brief and focused on the most important details.
A press release is a written announcement that is distributed to the media. It informs them of an event or accomplishment and allows them to share it with their audience.
As a guest poster today, we’d like to welcome Mark Macias, author of “Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media.” Mark Macias is an American television journalist based in New York City.
You will never be the first person to pitch a story idea to a reporter or producer. Every day, viewers and readers flood the media with sloppy emails and lengthy voicemails pleading for coverage of events that are seldom newsworthy. Regrettably, this tarnishes the integrity of anybody else attempting to present a genuine news story. People often complain that the media does not return their calls or emails, but there is a reason for this.
It’s not that reporters and producers don’t want to hear from the public; it’s difficult to take calls from everyone, particularly when one rambling caller may take up to 20 minutes. Worse, it’s simpler for a reporter to erase your email or voicemail than it is to read your whole message. Unfortunately, without going over the first barrier of establishing contact, you will never be able to shape or influence the media’s coverage.
During their initial encounter with you or your company, every journalist is continuously assessing the worth of a story. Most seasoned journalists think they can determine whether a proposal is a story or not within seconds of hearing it, and they are typically correct. Because their attention span is restricted while speaking over the phone, you must be succinct, thorough, and clear with each pitch. Rambling on for many minutes before clarifying what your article is about is the fastest way to lose credibility with a reporter or producer.
There are no written guidelines for that first meeting with a reporter or producer, but there are unwritten standards for making sense of random chaos, just as there are in life. There are methods to get through this media labyrinth so that your emails and phone conversations don’t get lost. There are also better times and days to pitch reporters when they have less time on their hands and their attention is more concentrated. But before you make that first contact, you’ll need to understand how to identify, present, and convey a newsworthy topic.
When it comes to drafting email press releases, newspaper and television reporters should not be addressed in the same manner. The tales in the two media have distinct time restrictions, which will determine how lengthy or short your pitch should be.
Let’s start with TV, where white is always a smart choice. On the email news release, the more empty space, the better. Nobody wants to open an email that has eight single-spaced paragraphs. There should never be more than four paragraphs in your first pitch. This is a cliché, but television runs at such a fast pace that no desk assistant, reporter, producer, or news manager will read a press release that reads like a book. They may get through the second or third paragraph, but not three pages of single-spaced sentences.
Here’s a formula that appears to work for me and my colleagues. Try to come up with a snappy title at the top of the release, then follow up with a one-paragraph summary of the story. The second paragraph should explain why the writer should care about your proposal. This may seem to be a difficult job for a new publicist, but by using the five W’s, you will be able to narrow down the story’s emphasis. The third paragraph should describe what you bring to the table or why you are the right person to tell this tale. If you have any more data, articles, or research for the reporter, let him know in the email.
Why not hand over all of the research to the reporter at once or send it as an attachment? Opening an email and seeing many attachments may be frightening for a reporter since he won’t know which one to read. No one likes to spend time opening unnecessary attachments when time is of the essence. If a reporter asks for anything particular, you’ll know which attachment to provide.
Many publicists make the mistake of attempting to pack too much information into a single news release. A press release’s goal is to pique the reporter’s or producer’s interest in the story. You’re just attempting to raise their awareness of the concept and spark their interest in it. Don’t get too worked up if the press release doesn’t address all of your queries. If the article is interesting, the reporter will offer you the opportunity to respond to those questions later.
When pitching newspapers, you should use a different strategy, but you should still follow the same principles as when selling television: start with a captivating title, use the five W’s to limit the story’s emphasis, and explain why you are the right person to tell the story. Depending on the subject and news source to whom you’re pitching, your email release should be longer, but not more than one page. Attach current articles or studies that support your concept, along with a paragraph that outlines what information the attachments will offer, to give your notion more credibility.
If your pitches aren’t garnering you any replies, you may want to rethink your whole strategy. It’s possible that your story concept isn’t targeted enough, or that you’re pitching the incorrect reporters. Perhaps you haven’t fully grasped why your tale is important. Take a look at your press release again to determine whether you’ve captured the core of your tale. Remember that public relations is not advertising, yet every story has a home. It’s just a question of identifying the appropriate niche and customizing the pitch to that niche.
Visit www.BeatthePressBook.com to discover more about Mark and receive more excellent tips.
A press release is a document that announces news to the public. It’s usually sent out by an organization or company, and it can be used to announce new products, partnerships, or other announcements