Management, business – How to Get Editors to Read Your Press Releases


6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Q:
What can I do to increase my chances of having my press releases
used by a newspaper or magazine?

A:
Whether you’re creating your PR, thinking about creating it or
you’re just about to launch it, beware of these shortfalls,
mistakes and other considerations:

Editors hate promotion. The purpose of publicity is to
inform the public about news, events, people and things of that
nature, not to tell a story. Editors and reporters are
sensitive to what the reader wants to read. Since a significant
portion of news in a news publication comes from press releases,
editors want to see news. They hate promotion. If your press
release contains information that is purely promotional and you try
to disguise it as news, editors can pick out the promotion a mile
away. Don’t do it. Save yourself the time and aggravation.
Editors and reporters form opinions and perceptions about those
that submit releases. If you continue the promotional angle, you
will get the reputation of being a promoter. When you have real
news to communicate, editors will then ignore you because of that
reputation. Think news. Put yourself in the editor/reporter’s
shoes and the reader’s shoes, and communicate newsworthy facts,
not personal, promoting stories.

Don’t put out a press release announcing a time-sensitive
event the day beforehand.
Planning a publication and laying out
a publication takes more time than overnight. Even though you see
yesterday’s events communicated in today’s newspaper, it
doesn’t mean there was a happenstance layout with no prior
planning done. Editors and copy editors have a place for breaking
stories, event announcements and general PR. Respect the fact that
there is a degree of planning involved. Turn in any press releases
related to time-sensitive events early enough so that an editor can
plan accordingly. Communicating information today about an event
tomorrow is not soon enough for most editors. Planning your own PR
and associated press releases must be part of your event, product
launch or personnel planning.

Make sure that your publicity has a news angle to it. You
now know editors hate promotion. What they do like is news.
Creating a newsworthy angle to anything increases the probability
that something will get published. Sometimes just using the word
“news” in the headline of a press release will indicate
that. Usually anything with a time or date associated with it is
considered news. Think announcements, events, happenings and
occasions.

Local angles to national stories are also considered news. These
sometimes can be human-interest stories. The national story is more
newsworthy and satisfies the news requirement of most editors.
Anniversaries are news. Promotions in management are news. Seminar
announcements are news. New product information is news.

Consider what readers want to read. Put yourself in their
shoes.
Some news doesn’t matter to the readership. This is
where identifying your target market comes in. You want to
publicize in those places that are seen by your target market. If a
particular publication doesn’t necessarily reach your product
market, there is no reason to communicate your news. A business
seminar announcement is of no use to a gardening club.
Reorganization in the largest business in town is of no interest to
sports junkies. Consider the publication; consider the readership;
consider what else is publicized in a particular publication.

Don’t call the editor to see when your release might
run.
Over half of the press releases an editor receives are
discarded, ignored or not used. Press releases hit an editor’s
e-mail inbox or his or her fax machine sometimes like
popcorn–there’s more than can be handled, managed and
certainly published. An editor is generally in charge of other
publication content. The day in the life of an editor is a case
study in prioritization and time-management. Receiving a phone call
from everyone who sent in a press release is an obstacle they
don’t need nor choose to deal with. Once again, if you bug an
editor and ask about placement, you will get a reputation. Editors
need to be handled with TLC.

If you do contact editors or reporters, first ask them if
they are “on deadline.”
Sometimes there is reason to
contact an editor. Maybe it’s returning a phone call they made
to you for more information. The first thing you should say when
phoning an editor is, “Are you on deadline?” Sometimes
it’s 3:00 p.m., and they have a 5:00 p.m. deadline they are
trying to meet and have three hours worth of work to cram into
those two hours. Fielding a call related to prospective PR ruins
that time-management. Editors want the opportunity to say,
“I’m busy, leave me alone, I still want to talk to you but
I’ve got a deadline.” Don’t be offended by this; its
part of the PR business.

Paid advertising generally has no bearing on publicity
placement.
One myth is that paid advertisers get preferential
treatment for PR placement. This is a myth. Editors generally
don’t talk to the advertising department. Now common sense does
prevail when trying to take care of larger accounts and great
advertisers. There may be an occasion where preference is given,
but the general rule of thumb is that you won’t get
preferential treatment for PR if you advertised.

The tips mentioned above also apply to broadcast news; just
replace the word “editor” with “producer.”

Understanding some of these quirks, rules, myths and
considerations will increase your probability of getting your news
placed in the publications that your target markets read.

Alfred J. Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing and PR
consultant, direct-mail promotion specialist, principle of
marketing consulting firm Marketing Now, and president and owner of
The Ink Well, a commercial printing and mailing company in Wheaton,
Illinois. Visit his Web sites at http://www.market-for-profits.com[1] and http://www.1-800-inkwell.com[2], or e-mail him at
al@market-for-profits.com[3].


The opinions expressed in this column are those
of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to
be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas
or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting
an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or
accountant.

References

  1. ^ http://www.market-for-profits.com (www.market-for-profits.com)
  2. ^ http://www.1-800-inkwell.com (www.1-800-inkwell.com)
  3. ^ al@market-for-profits.com (www.entrepreneur.com)

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