Trust me, we've all been there. Pouring blood, sweat and tears into a press release just for it to be ignored by journalists can be a heartbreaking affair.
Even in today's digital world the humble press release can still be the backbone of a PR campaign - but only if they are good enough for journalists to actually use.
Here at Motive we have found that there are a few non-negotiables when it comes to media relations.
Journalists work to strict deadlines and are often time poor, so part of the job of PR is to make the journalist's life easier.
This means keeping things short, sweet and providing everything they need to effectively publish your story without having to come back to you with a long list of questions.
Common outreach mistakes like including a spam sounding subject line can decrease email open rates. This in turn can affect long-term relationships with media contacts as they could start thinking of you as a spammer.
Here are seven reasons why your press release might not be getting the love it deserves:
You sent the release as an attachment
Because journalists are always pushed for time and constantly have to meet tight deadlines, many won’t have the time to start opening attachments. Pasting your copy into the body of the email is more than sufficient for providing a journalist with what they need.
The email has a spam subject line
Ensuring your subject line is direct and punchy before sending your release to journalists is key to a high email open rate. Using caps with phrases like ‘URGENT ATTENTION’ or ‘READ THIS’ will deter journalists from opening your email as they will believe it is spam. Use the headline for the piece to guide you, keep it simple and no more than ten words or so.
You haven’t provided an image or given the wrong one
Providing an image with a release will increase its chances of being used as it means journalists won’t have to source one themselves. Using the correct image(s) is also essential in ensuring a quick turn around, chasing up for photos can be time consuming and can sometimes lead to your release losing news value. If you’ve put time and effort into creating an image or a graphic to illustrate your story, it's imperative you make it freely available to media.
The release just isn’t ready to use
Journalists are famously time-short so you want to make sure their work is kept to a minimum when you send across a press release. The final copy should be as easy as possible for the journalist to copy and paste with little editing. Make sure the piece is clear, coherent and includes all relevant pieces of information – this includes any pictures or external links. Make sure you also include full names for anyone mentioned in your release - first names only will make it unusable.
Your email is impersonal
Journalists can spot a mass email from a mile away. Spend some time adding greetings to your emails, even addressing the journalist by their first name is a great way of building rapport. One to one pitching can help to build genuine relationships with media contacts. Although this method can be more time-consuming, it is definitely worth it.
You've sent it to the wrong contacts
It can be tempting to email out your news release to lots of media contacts but if you haven't taken the time to research the right targets you could be wasting your time and theirs. Time spent building genuine relationships with your target media should be seen as an investment and will always reward you later in the form of both coverage and links. There's no point in sending a gardening story to a motoring writer for example. Don't skip your research.
The story disregards the current news agenda
Working in PR means always keeping on top of the news agenda and knowing what topics are currently relevant in your clients industry. Before pitching a story ask yourself, is this newsworthy? Is there any way I can tie this into current affairs? Can the story be given a seasonal twist?
It’s important to remember, that even if you include all of the above, along with a beautifully written and engaging story it still might not place. There can be many reasons for why a story isn’t picked up by the media and it’s easy to be disheartened. Identifying a new angle or a changing up your pitch could be all it takes for the story to get picked up.
Of course if you’re really struggling to get your news to place in media coverage you could always give the professionals a call. A Motive campaign will get people talking, clicking and sharing your brand. Contact us today to find out more.