Media releases are designed to announce something new, timely or relevant. They arrive, by the hundreds, into the inboxes of busy journalists each day. These journalists, aside from conducting interviews, dealing with editorial deadlines and writing their stories are all on the hunt for a genuinely new and relevant story for their readers.
So when they receive a media release that is not applicable to their section, it is quickly moved to the trash and often cursed. On the flip side, when journalists do receive an informative email or phone call targeted to their subject, their readers and their writing style, they will usually welcome the effort.
So let’s consider the need to send that media release. Would hitting the delete button and writing a targeted email instead work better?
An email or phone call is perfect for a story idea. If you have a newspaper, magazine or journalist in mind for your story, you will have far greater chances of publication if you make contact with the journalist to tell them the story or send it in a concise (one paragraph) email. Aside from giving the journalist an exclusive angle on your story, you’ll also be establishing meaningful rapport and building the blocks of a long term, mutually beneficial relationship.
Here are some tips for writing a meaningful story pitch and ditching the media release:
- Research your journalists and publications. Select those that would respond well to the story you have in mind and email a concise email with a clear angle.
- Don’t send blatant promotion. It’s not an advertisement. If your email doesn’t present a new story opportunity to the journalist, their publication and their audience it will be binned.
- Tell it straight. If you’re embellishing or exaggerating facts to make yourself and your product sound better than it is, your announcement isn’t newsworthy and your attempt at building a relationship with a journalist will stop right there.
- Keep it short and concise. Two paragraphs as a maximum but one paragraph is best. Craft your email explaining what your story is, why you think it’s relevant, how you can add value and when it might work best. Then you’ve genuinely done your job and tried to help the journalist you want to engage with to write your story.
- Proofread what you have written and send it. Some journalists like a follow-up phone call and some don’t. I suggest letting them know you will be following up in a few days and ask them when might be the best time.
If you’ve you have read this and still want to send the media release, by all means do, just make sure it is sent to the journalists that are right to receive it.
Best of luck having your story published!
Top image: athena