Articles Tagged with journalists

Don’t be pushy

#SillySeasonPR #12

Don't be pushy! #SillySeasonPR

Don’t be pushy

“Come and interview us and we will give you an exclusive story.”

“This is our story and this is the angle.”

“I sent you a press release, but haven’t seen it in your newspaper.”

I’ve heard these a few times lately.

They don’t get you off to a very good start. I jump at the chance of an interesting interview or a good story and I’ve got a good nose for news and can usually tell (but not always).

Give yourself the best chance

Many press releases don’t get published.

This can be because they are:

  • irrelevant to the publication
  • inaccurate
  • an advert disguised as news
  • so poorly written that no one understands it
  • sent too late to meet the deadline
  • just not interesting

There are many reasons why they don’t get published, but don’t let being pushy be one of them.

How can I get my press release considered for publication?

  • Make it relevant – research the publication and tailor it accordingly
  • Check all the facts so that everything you say is correct
  • Don’t sell – tell a real story. Adverts aren’t news
  • Make sure it is well written. Let colleagues or friends read it to check they understand it
  • Send it in good time, especially if timing is essential, eg to publicise an event
  • Make sure it is interesting. Just because you are excited, doesn’t mean other people will be
  • Make yourself useful to journalists – help them do their jobs

If your press release is all of these things, it has a better chance of being considered for publication, but there is still no guarantee.

The editor could suddenly decide to reduce the number of pages in an issue so articles planned for inclusion will have to be left out.

Late news often arrives. A company making a lot of people redundant could take precedence over other news as could a company announcing a lot of new jobs.

However much we plan, we can’t tell what other news is going to come up.

Work with journalists

Journalists aren’t happy when they’ve been working on articles and their space is cut, so you won’t make them any happier by badgering them about including your press release.

The more helpful you are and the better the news you provide, the more likely a journalist will include it or try to give you coverage.

Being pushy will not help.

Your #SillySeasonPR #12 task is to review your press release to make it relevant, interesting and suitable for the publications you are targeting. Good luck and do ask any questions you have.

Tomorrow: ? Visit to find out

Use the content and tips in our videos and posts below to boost your business.


Offer comment

#SillySeasonPR #11

Offer comment #SillySeasonPR

Offer comment

Journalists and broadcasters are often looking for comment on issues.

On one occasion I contacted three architects and managed to get a comment from one. Guess who was featured in the newspaper along with a photo for a few minutes’ work.

How do I become a recognised authority on my subject?

  • Issue press releases offering genuine comment on a topical issue
  • Build relationships with journalists and let them know you can provide comment on your area
  • Add comment to your web site so that journalists searching online for comment will find you
  • Comment on topics on social media networks
  • Publish your own research and reports on your areas of expertise

You won’t necessarily get asked immediately, but when something does crop up needing a comment, journalists will know to contact you or can find you easily when they search online.

Your #SillySeasonPR #11 task is to think how journalists can discover your expertise. Good luck and do ask any questions you have.

Tomorrow: ? Visit to find out

Use the content and tips in our videos and posts below to boost your business.


Not all journalists bite

#SillySeasonPR #10

Not all journalists bite #SillySeasonPRNot all journalists bite

Are journalists special? No more special than other people, although some people can be frightened of them.

Should you take care when contacting a journalist? Just as much care as when contacting anyone else.

Should you phone or email them? That’s a good question. Some journalists hate being phoned, especially when they are busy. But wait a minute, do you hate being phoned when you are busy?

Remember too that when journalists want information or comment, they will call you at unearthly hours. In recent months, I have had calls to my mobile at 7am asking if I would take part in a live radio interview later that morning, while one Sunday evening I received a call from a journalist at 6pm. It’s all right to disturb you when they want something.

Ideally, it should be a balanced relationship, not one-sided.

As a business editor, I enjoy phone calls. I have picked up some interesting stories from unsolicited phone calls. If I feel a story is interesting and I am busy, I arrange a call for another day or ask the caller to email me details. I am happy for my phone number and email to be published in the newspaper.

What does annoy me is when people call about or email a story that is not at all relevant to my area of interest. I usually forgive business owners, especially those without much experience of PR, but get angry with PR professionals who ought to know better and should research their target audience more thoroughly. After all, the client is paying them for their expertise.

Also, just like everyone else, I don’t like being pestered.

Not every journalist thinks the same, so it is worthwhile checking out to see if journalists you are targeting have a preferred method of contact. Some will say, others won’t. Often, a brief email with your story ‘pitch’ can work better than a phone call, but who can tell? Some publications and journalists openly publish their phone numbers, so why not call them?

What’s the best way of contacting a journalist? There is no simple answer. However you choose to contact a journalist, be brief, explain your story clearly and accept that they might not be tempted to cover it.

What I can say is that this particular animal does not bite.

Your #SillySeasonPR #10 task is to think how best to contact journalists with your story. Good luck and do ask any questions you have.

Tomorrow: ? Visit to find out

Use the content and tips in our videos and posts below to boost your business.


Spell acronyms, initialisms and abbreviations in full before using

Acronyms, initialisms and abbreviations save space and time,
but not if readers don’t know what they mean before you start using them.

ASAIAAIFBU (Always spell acronyms, initialisms and abbreviations in full before using)
Some organisations, products or processes have very long names that become tedious to repeat. Acronyms (which make a new word out of initials, eg LASER), initialisms (eg BBC) and abbreviations, eg ref) can make long names or terms easier to read and write. 

However, the reader does need to know what they mean. Do we know what LASER stands for or what the BBC is?

Spell them out before using

Spell out acronyms and initialisms in full the first time you write them and follow them with the shortened form in brackets, eg British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). From then on you can just write BBC and readers will know what you mean.

But surely everyone knows what the BBC is? Which BBC? There are many organisations with these initials so it’s dangerous to assume, especially if our target audience is a very broad one.

What is more, if you include obscure initials without identifying what they mean, a journalist will have to look them up. It won’t take them much time, but if they have to look up simple things for every press release they receive, it slows down their work considerably.

If you make life easier for journalists by providing information in full, it is a great help and establishes you as a good, reliable source for the future. And building good relationships with journalists is important for the success of your PR campaigns.

How PR literate are businesses?

How PR literate are businesses? | pressme

Last week I was writing the year’s last business pages for our local newspaper and put out a general question asking if any businesses had any news stories.

Generally, I pick up news by keeping my eyes and ears open and seeing what’s happening. I tend to approach businesses who are tweeting or posting about their activities rather than putting out a general request for news. Some businesses are already switched on to PR and offer suitable material, often through press releases, but this time I thought I would cast my net wider and see if I could connect with businesses who don’t use public relations. I was interested to see what response I would get.

What do journalists need?

I did receive some responses, although I did have to explain in simple terms what I was looking for. It was clear that some of them were not familiar with what material is required.

That’s not a problem for me as I am used to interviewing people and teasing a story out of them. Often business owners aren’t aware of their own good stories. Perhaps it’s because they think only big, massively successful businesses can use PR and that no one will be interested in their stories. That is not the case.

Using PR to promote your business

I think if more businesses were ‘PR literate’ and understood the essential processes of PR, they would obtain a lot more coverage.

Last week I also made a presentation on using PR effectively to a group of manufacturers outlining the basics. From putting aside fear and contacting a journalist to writing a press release with a sharp headline and powerful opening paragraph, and taking striking photos whenever opportunities arise, there is so much that any business can do.

When you see the same business featured in one issue of a publication after another, it’s because they are doing all this. Like any other business activity, it does take time and effort, but anyone can do it.

Understanding the processes, ‘PR literacy’, can help achieve this.

Who is that? Or how to waste journalists’ time

Who are they? | Supply a caption when sending photographs to journalists
Many journalists don’t have much time. They are often working to tight deadlines so have to get information fast. As many publications reduce staff, often they have to produce the same amount of material with fewer people.

This means that everything you can do to help journalists by providing interesting, good quality, detailed and accurate information gives your material a greater chance of being featured.

Who is that in the photo?

One of the most common pieces of information I have to chase up is the caption for a photo.

Many press releases are sent with accompanying photographs, but all too often there is no caption detailing the subject or naming the people pictured. Or perhaps the people are mentioned, but there is no clue as to who is who.

I have to know who is in the photo as it could be the wrong photo and include someone else entirely. This means sending an email or calling if I’m approaching my deadline.

This takes time, not a lot, but time that I would rather spend more productively on interviewing someone or writing.

Detail who and what are in your photo

When sending photos to journalists, it’s good practice to provide a caption.

Say who is in a photo and if there is more than one person, list them in order, eg (from left). It’s also a good idea to give their titles, eg managing director of [your company], so that the journalist can see the relevance of the photo to your press release.

It sounds like a small detail, but is quite important. Your photo might not be included if the journalist can’t be sure who or what it is.

It takes just a few minutes to write a caption.

Speak to journalists

If you are unsure whether your press release is relevant or of interest, call a journalist you want to send it to and ask them.

Some will appreciate being asked rather than being bombarded with irrelevant press releases. Some might not be helpful or appreciate your call as, just like any profession, everyone is different. As long as you don’t hassle journalists and they’re not nearing a deadline, many will be accessible. After all, talking to people to get news is a big part of their job.

When preparing my own weekly news pages for our local newspaper, I am quite happy for people to call me. Some are very timid when they have really interesting stories, while others are sometimes over-enthusiastic about a story that is more interesting to them than anyone else. I try to be helpful and give a realistic view on the merits of each story. I’ll help to tease out a good story to make it into an interesting article.

What if you get an abrupt ‘no’? Don’t give up. If you think they’ll answer you, ask why a journalist does not think your story is interesting or suitable for their publication. Use this to improve your next press release.

If you show you have interesting or relevant news, you could become a useful source for journalists: the person they call when they want comment.

Building relationships with journalists is an important part of public relations. See it as an essential part of business similar to talking to your accountant.

Make sure your press release tells real news

Journalists want news.

Do you have news to tell or are you just trying to sell?

Editorials are not the same as adverts. Editorial usually aims to be impartial and not overtly promote a product or service. It can describe and sometimes review, but on the whole does not sell. If your press release is an advert dressed up as news, it could very likely be ignored. Or sometimes the advertising department will call you to sell you an advert.

Having no story is just as bad. It is possible to read a press release and wonder if there is a story there. If a press release is produced just because an organisation thinks it’s time it ‘did some PR’, it’s likely to be vague and unfocused.

What is newsworthy about your business? What are you doing that is interesting? What have you achieved?

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