There’s nothing more frustrating and disappointing for clients and publicists when a media release goes ignored and unpublished. So why does it happen? Sometimes a big news story breaks or journalists are away or your story clashes with one they’ve recently run… there are no guarantees but here are some ways of improving your chances of publication.
by Diana Wolfe
An edited version of this how-to article was published in No Fussing About e-news on 23 July 2012.
There’s nothing more frustrating and disappointing for clients and publicists when a carefully-crafted media release goes ignored and unpublished. There are many reasons this happens, some out of our control and some that can be managed.
Work with your publicist to get these things right:
- Quality media release – well written, newsworthy, concise, accurate releases are essential.
- Credibility – the media quickly ‘turns off’ when you bombard them with badly-written media releases that can’t be followed up with good photos and ‘talent’ for interviews. It takes PR agencies and publicists years to build relationships and rapport with journalists, so that when they see a media release on your letterhead they know it’s credible and newsworthy.
- Timeliness – know journalists’ deadlines and timeframes, and the best time to send out particular stories. Contact them well in advance, follow up when you know they’re not so busy, and avoid pestering them on deadline.
- Focus – only send media releases to journalists that are interested in your topic, issue, product or event.
- Personalise – never bcc journalists; always use their first name and add a personal message, even when doing a big mail-out.
- Follow up – with a brief email note and / or phone call. Keep phone calls friendly but brief and to-the-point.
- Advertising and promotional tie-ins – some media outlets (particularly suburban press) will give editorial or ‘advertorial’ priority to advertisers, or do giveaways; it’s worth asking.
- Alternative ways of contacting journalists – more and more journalists are using social media, particularly Twitter, to source stories; do your research.
- Be prepared – have quality high-resolution photographs, video footage, audio grabs available if possible, and make sure your media spokespeople are well briefed in advance.
But even when you’ve done everything ‘right’, sometimes a big news story breaks or journalists are away or your story clashes with one they’ve recently run… or a hundred other factors beyond your control mean that your email inbox and voicemail remain sadly empty.
If so, don’t despair! Get on the phone to a ‘friendly’ journalist or two and ask their advice; their replies are always enlightening. Sometimes they file your story for future reference. Sometimes they run the story later on, when it better suits their timeframe or subject area. Sometimes they forward it on to colleagues who cover your type of story. It’s very, very rarely personal and mostly they’ve just overlooked your release or been busy with other stories.
The important things to remember are not to blame the publicist, yourself, or the media. Go back to the above tips, re-evaluate your media release, and identify areas for improvement next time.
© 2012 Diana Wolfe. This article may be reproduced and shared in part or fully across any platform or media, provided the author’s name and business name (Diana Wolfe, Wolfe Words) is acknowledged.