Saturday, October 31, 2009

Press Releases and Pitches

I have been getting lots of questions about press releases, so here's some advice. Yes, journalists still read press releases, but it seems pitches are made more often and press releases are part of the supporting material once an interview is booked.

Pitches come in the form of an email or a phone call. If a reporter wants more information before confirming, he or she will usually request the press release.

The great thing about writing a press release is that it can be re-purposed:

1. Use them as blog entries.
2. List them in the “Press” or “News” tab of your website—this is where journalists go to research your organization.
3. Print them out and put them in packets you send to potential clients and investors.
4. Link to them in the social media outlets you use, such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

Here are ways to make your press releases effective:

1. Keep them short.
2. Have an attention-grabbing headline.
3. Answer who, what, when, where, why and how.
4. Include a quotation from the newsmaker.
5. Have contact information prominently displayed.
6. Put a date on them.
7. Do not exaggerate—be as accurate as a textbook.
8. Do not call to ask if it’s been received—reporters hate this intrusion.

With newspaper, radio and television outlets reducing their staff size for economic reasons, producers and editors are looking for shortcuts. And that means in some instances, your press release—if well-written—may end up, copy unchanged, as a news story.

Happy Halloween!

Don't be a spooky newsmaker! You can be treat to work with by:

1. Getting requested items to producers/editors ahead of the deadline.
2. Rehearsing your answers to typical questions so you don't get caught flat-footed.
3. Wearing the correct colors for TV.
4. Arriving at the studio early.
5. Having high energy and passion for your topic.
6. Sending a thank-you note after the interview.