Why didn’t any reporter publish your last press release, or answer your last few phone calls?
It’s probably because you committed one of the following five things that drive journalists crazy. Try to avoid these at all costs:
1. Send them stuff they can’t use.
You sent a wonderful pitch to Doggie Power magazine that detailed the release of your new product. Unfortunately, your company makes power converters. The reporter from Doggie Power crumpled up the release and angrily tossed it in the garbage. The reporter knew you just pulled his publication out of a random keyword search and didn’t even bother to read its guidelines.
When you send press releases and other information, make sure the media outlet fits. You’d be surprised how many press releases newspapers and newsrooms get that have nothing to do with what they report. Do your research first.
2. Forget to proofread.
I can’t believe I have to say this, but make sure to proofread your work before you send it. If your press release has spelling errors or is incoherent babble, no one will print it—ever. Go over your writing a few times, and let someone else read it. Then read it again and edit it some more. Don’t let even the smallest error show up. It hurts your credibility and irks reporters.
3. Tell a reporter you sent the press release to someone else.
We all like to feel special. It’s nice to know someone out there is thinking only of us. Reporters are no different; they like to know the press release you sent out was only for them. So why are you telling them you sent the release to every Tom, Dick and Harriet in town?
Granted, you may not tell reporters on purpose. You may have just used a generic salutation, or forgot to send out individual emails. Instead, everyone saw all the email addresses you sent the press release to.
Whatever the case may be, you let the reporter at The Times-Herald know she wasn’t the only recipient. Now she knows hundreds of others have the same story and doesn’t feel special. Now she’s sad.
4. Ask about the press release.
“Did you get the release? I sent it five minutes ago, and was just wondering if you read it.”
“What did you think of the wording of the first paragraph? I worked really hard on it. I’m just wondering what you thought of my brilliance. Let me know!”
“Hey, I’m going to need to see a copy of the article before you print it. Thanks. In fact, if you could call me back and read it to me over the phone that’d be great. Thanks!”
After you send a press release, the reporter will get back to you when she has time. If she needs something else, she’ll contact you. Don’t badger her, and for crying out loud, don’t ask to see the article first. Just let it go and enjoy the ride.
5. Write a boring press release.
Contrary to popular belief, reporters want press releases. Good press releases, that is. It’s instant gratification. They can fill up space and have less work to do that day, which means they can go home, get some more sleep, and possibly see their children. Doesn’t that sound nice?
But, say you send a reporter your press release and he does get some sleep. Unfortunately, the reason he slept is because your story bored him into a slumber!
If you’re not passionate about your story and business, why should anyone else be, much less a journalist? Make sure your passion comes through the press release, or the story will never see the light of day.