Here are some thoughts on how to improve chances of obtaining press coverage distilled from my experience of magazine and newspaper writing and editing since 1997.
1. Get news to the right person first time. Check out a publication to see what type of material it uses. Different journalists will cover different sections or topics: find out who deals with the type of news you’re sending. A sports correspondent won’t be very thrilled to receive a press release on innovations in the packaging industry. Many publications list the names and even contact details of journalists or you could even phone up and ask.
2. Submit your press release or news in good time. The deadline for inclusion could be days, weeks or months before publication. If you have time-critical news, eg to publicise an event on a specific day, make sure you get all the information in before the deadline, otherwise you’ll miss any opportunity of getting it publicised.
3. Make sure a press release is relevant to the publication. If it’s a local paper, customise the content to suit the readership in that area. Show how the news will affect local people or what’s in it for them. Local interest or relevance to the specific readership is important.
4. Put in basic facts, figures, dates and check them. Journalists aren’t psychic and don’t want to play guessing games.
5. Make sure that your story is of interest to readers, not just yourself. Sometimes it can be easy to forget that not everyone may share your excitement at your news, so be realistic.
6. Be available if a journalist wants original comment or further details. It’ll be a waste of time if your news is left out because they couldn’t reach you.
7. It’s natural for people new to public relations not to follow the above advice, but amazingly some PR professionals don’t either. If you use a PR consultant or agency, be certain that they target media effectively, are aware of deadlines and provide each publication with what it wants. Otherwise, why are you paying them?
That’s my view from the journalist side, which I apply when producing press releases from the PR side.