This is a guest post by Leslie Bailey, a freelance writer in Indianapolis.
Despite what old-school public relations professionals might say, press releases are no longer the only way to get the attention of the media. Social media and modern marketing are far too strong of a driving force in this sector to ignore.
That’s not to say however, that press releases are a lost cause – if you handle them correctly.
Here are a few tips from my personal experience that will help you get the most out of your press release. Note: these tips may not apply in every situation; consider each case on an individual basis.
The easiest way to do this is by checking of the ‘Five Ws’ – Who, What, Where, When, W…and I don’t mean within the copy of your press release.
If you’re targeting a specific audience – what’s that? You’re just sending out mass emails? Let’s start over.
To get the most value out of a press release, consider reaching out to your subject in a personalized manner. No one wants to feel like they’re part of a cattle call. Unless a publicity email addresses me by name, I don’t read it.
Blogger, Madam, “Hi there” or my favorite yesterday, “Hi lovey!,” don’t count. Find out the person’s name and address them by such (be sure to spell it correctly!)
What does the person who you’re contacting cover? If you are trying to pitch the latest and greatest diaper, you should probably note that I don’t have children and have never written anything related to babies. Look at media contact’s previous or recent work to see what topics they usually write about.
Where are you sending this press release? Make sure it’s the subjects preferred method of communication. I’ve had people contact me through Facebook, Twitter, and other various platforms to ask for my email address. If they’d take a few minutes, they’d see it’s listed very clearly in several places.
Timing is everything. If your media blast is concerning something Christmas related, it’s as effective to send it in July, as it would be to send it on Christmas Eve. As a blogger, I like a six-week lead but when it comes to print publications, the time varies. For a newspaper story, I need about four-weeks notice while something pointed for magazine, two and a half months. Each publication is different though so be sure to consider the timing of your release.
This is key not only within your content but also when considering your recipient. Why does this person care what you have to say? Referring back to the matter of ‘what’, a food writer isn’t going to care about the latest in fall fashions just as a fashion writer doesn’t care about the best place to create a Fantasy Sports Team.
You’ll notice that all of these suggestions take TIME. Sure, you’re a busy person and you’re trying to get a message out to the greatest number of people possible but if you can’t take a moment to find out someone’s name, why do they want to spend hours covering your news? They won’t.
Do your research, make a friendly and personalized introduction and see how much further it takes you.
You can follow Leslie @Lesalina.