Long ago, I was a newspaper guy and had a chance to read, ridicule and throw away thousands of press releases. Here are a few thoughts on why yours got tossed.
:::first-person, newsroom mode: On:::
Your release failed because I never saw it. Do you have any idea the amount of mail and e-mail I get every day? And how much of it is utterly irrelevant? I throw away fully half of my mail without opening it because the address isn’t local, and at a small daily we’re allllll about local.
Your release failed because it made the newsroom laugh. We laugh at lots of stuff: Poor use of AP style. Horrible writing. “Local angles” that are as thin and weak as spider silk. Hint: If we’re laughing, it won’t get used.
Your release failed because you called me on deadline. I admit it — I’m petty, and even if you have a good story, I’m apt to drop it to the bottom of the stack or to the round file if you didn’t have the good sense to know when I was on deadline. Will I answer my phone on deadline? Yes — because there might be news happening somewhere. But news of your new ABC WonderWidget is just going to tick me off unless I work at WonderWidget Monthly.
Your release failed because you made me work too hard. Here’s the thing: We all have beats and we’re all working those beats to develop original, interesting, above-the-fold stories faster than the competition. PR can do two things for me: It can alert me to something genuinely newsworthy and unique (which happens rarely) or it can spoon-feed me a story that, while not Pulitzer material, will be a slam-dunk to do because you’re providing so much information. If you send me a release and it makes for an easy story, I’m in; if not, I’ve got better things to do.
Your release failed because you made me feel like a whore. The flip side of the point above is that if you make me feel like a tool, then I’m going to get all journalistically indignant on you, and that’s the surest way to not get covered. So don’t offer to write the story for me (yes, that actually happens!), don’t send me endless streams of food and don’t act like a friend and confidante unless we’ve known each other for a decade or more.
Hope this helps.
Tags: media relations
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