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It is no secret that newspaper and magazine editors welcome information provided by organisations and companies (press releases).
They have a lot of space to fill and only a limited time to fill it. Of course that's all very well, but what if you don't have a story of any interest to them? Read on...
What's your angle? Is your organisation involved in something newsworthy or unique? Are you "bucking the trend" i.e. are you taking/have you taken a differing route to success to that of your competitors?
Read about similar organisations in trade journals. What were their angles? What made them newsworthy?
Ask your family, friends and colleagues what they feel is the most interesting aspect of the organisation. Their answers might surprise you. Get them to read the press release when it's complete and ask for honest comments, but also, most importantly, ask for criticism.
How do I press an editor's button?
Use a short catchy headline. This is by far the most important part of the press release. You have to catch attention with it and make the readers want to read the whole story. For instance, are you reading this article because you were curious what the headline, "Press the 'Release' Button", meant?
The lead paragraph is also very important and acts as the taster to the rest of the story.
Keep the paragraphs short and to the point.
Tell the editor the facts. Use the 5 Ws: who?, what?, where?, when? and why?
Is your story timely? Can you associate your organisation with ongoing or recent news events (fencing company/storms or university/recent survey)? If the area of activity your involved in is a current topic for discussion in the media, you could include a comment - or better still a headline - that ties the situation in with your company.
Quote recent statistics about your field/industry that support your story.
Try to get a quote from an industry insider; they might welcome the publicity. (If you need a quote about internet education or internet marketing, please e-mail me, Robert Brady, I'll be happy to help.)
Don't use the general name of your website in a press release. For instance, when I refer to ed-u.com's sister site, it's a lot easier for readers to find Highstreetcentral.com when on-line, rather than High Street Central.
Don't use an obvious sales pitch. Keep references to a commercial operation subtle and objective.
Include all contact details of your organisation in the press release so that an editor or journalist can contact you for further information or to arrange a photograph.
Where is the editor's button?
You can usually find the e-mail addresses of journalists and editors in their respective printed media, but also at media related websites.
If you think you have sent them a newsworthy story and find that it hasn't been used, try giving them a call and asking if they need any more information.
It is possible that the only reason they haven't included your story, is because they have so many other press releases to choose from. If you follow up, you have a much better chance of bringing your one to the top of the pile.
You might like to put an information pack together to mail to specifically targeted editors. Along with an introduction letter and your press release, include company literature and your business card. Also provide biographical and historical details about yourself and the company.