6 Things Journalists Look For in a Press Release & Pitch
Guest Post from Noni May
You've figured your PR strategy out. You're ready to get your name and business out in the world with a strong press presence. You hired a PR company or you'll do it yourself. I suggest the last - don't hire a PR company. Why?
When you send out your press release and/or pitch, it's very important to make the best first impression you can - because they'll give you only one chance. So here are 6 things journalists look for in a press release + pitch:
- The biggest mistake I see people make all the time is: sending the information in a download file - be it Dropbox, Google Docs or Wetransfer. It's not cool. Who has time to download stuff from random people and who wants a cluttered computer with stuff you probably won’t even use? Make sure you copy/paste the press release text in the email and attach a PDF with the press release + photos to choose from. The reason why you shouldn't send everything right away is because you want to know if the journalists will use your press release or not. If you give them the photos straight away - they don't even need to reply to you (you know, they're busy and always on a deadline). They'll just write or produce the piece and go on with their lives. Of course, this doesn't always happen - but in my experience, the best way to keep track of your publications is giving them a preview of the photos and be ready to reply in an instant when they email you back. Don't wait days or even hours to reply - this is very annoying if you're on a tight deadline and they’ll probably feature someone else. So when you pitch yourself - make sure you're behind your computer and next to the phone all day.
- Don't use popular subjective words like 'awesome', 'the best' or 'popular' if you don't have proof that it's true. If you're voted as '#1' that's different than telling others you find yourself the #1 in your niche. So make sure you don't use these words without the proof because if one thing in the press release is not true everything might as well be rubbish. You're not sending out an advertisement - you're sending out a news piece so only work with facts.
- Write the press release like it's the actual final article. Believe me, journalists and bloggers have a lot on their plate. They prefer copy/paste pieces written in third person. So don't write about 'my company is known for..' but 'The company is known for...' and you’ll make their job super easy.
- This one seems obvious: double check your grammar, make sure you copy/paste the right name in the pitch if you're using canned email pitch and make sure you send out the press release via BCC - not CC! CC is the worst!
- Use Quotes. Journalists love quotes because it makes their lives easier. They can easily use the quotes to say something more subjective in the story, it breaks the story up which makes reading easier and it's the perfect way to tell your story and shine. Quotes are also the way to become the media favorite in your niche. If you give great quotes, it's more likely that other media will call you too if they need someone from your niche for a great quote in their story. So make sure you pick your quotes wisely and don't 'over quote' your press release.
- Don't email journalists over and over again. I'd say it's a pretty general rule: if they don't respond, they're not interested. This is also why it's so important that you DON’T send your photos immediately (see point 1). If they are interested, they need to contact you first before writing their article and this is how you build a relationship. The most annoying thing you can do is email the journalist again because it will overflow their inbox and that's mostly the reason they can't get back to everybody in the first place. Best tip in this case? Send the email to another journalist working for the same medium or one to the general email addresses so that someone else can pick your press release up if interested. If you want to know more about following up, enroll in my course (Oh My Press) where I’ve devoted one full module to the art of following up. You’ll learn more about the importance of a follow-up, how to follow up the right way, the fail-proof system for a passive follow-up and successful pitches email templates (and lots more!).
If you want more tips regarding a press release and if you’re ready to start asap, make sure you download the 8-page worksheet 'Rock your press release' for a complete outline, checklist and 'fill in the blanks' worksheet.
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Download the rock your press release workbook!
Noni May: Digital Nomad traveling the world with Wanderlust & Company as a writer. After 12 years of blogging, 5+ years in PR and 9 months of non-stop traveling the world, I've started my online school where you can find courses how to live free. Travel guides + courses and business courses for a more passive and location independent business. Before I founded several blogs and online magazines in the past like Unicorn/Dream magazine, Rassionmag and Amsterdam Curated and worked in the PR/Online Marketing field.
In Oh My Press: in 3 month's your biz or blog's first media mentions you learn how to pitch your business the right way to press to get published. I'll tell you everything I know about PR. And that's a lot, thanks to my unique combination of working in the PR field ánd being a blogger/journalist. For years I reached out to bloggers during the day time, and read PR companies' emails during the night when I devoted my time to written adventures. I arranged thousands of articles for my clients - and now it's your turn.