Getting Your Message onto the Right Desktop
How to avoid the common traps and pitfalls that land your news in the circular file.
[USPRwire, Sun Oct 04 2009] What if you’ve written what you believe to be a killer press release, but it falls into the proverbial black hole, and the response is deep silence?
Journalists feel besieged by a constant torrent of e-mails and voicemails from companies eager to have their story told in the marketplace. Thus, it’s not surprising that many have set up voicemail greetings that ask callers to refrain from leaving pitches there, under pain of death.
Likewise, many media organizations have set up industrial-strength firewalls and spam filters which effectively block out most messages from senders of unknown origin, or those who have crossed a line of annoyance.
So how do you get around, over, or through the various roadblocks that journalists erect?
Avoid Irrelevance. As a former journalist, I know the single most annoying practice of PR types was calling to tell me about a company, product, executive, you name it, that had absolutely nothing to do with what I wrote about or cared about.
The Solution: Do your homework! Take the time to research the reporter and the publication to get a better sense of what works and what doesn’t, tendencies, interests, preferences. You’ll be amazed how much more effective you’ll be at pitching after being armed with relevant information.
Avoid lack of timeliness. Even the most well-crafted pitch in the world won’t stick to the wall of interest if it doesn’t tie in to an upcoming project a journalist has in his or her sights.
The Solution: Most magazines publish an editorial calendar, plotting out a year’s worth of coverage. Use the calendar to help match the story you’re trying to tell and what a reporter or editor is actually covering. Be creative in selling the link or relationship between your latest gizmo or process and the June roundup of hot business opportunities.
Avoid Going too high up the food chain. Sending your client’s release about the latest breakthrough in motor oil viscosity to the executive editor of a trade journal is generally not going to produce the intended result. These folks are too concerned with filling in the next month’s pages to stop and consider where or to whom to route the e-mail.
The Solution: Reporters and associate editors are your best bets in terms of getting an actual response or hearing for your pitch or story. Again, craft the pitch based on the journalist’s beat area, interests and past/recent coverage. A quick cruise through Factiva or Google News searching under the reporter’s name will help tremendously.
With a little elbow grease, a dose of common sense and a bit of research, you can help keep your name and e-mail address off those nefarious “block sender” lists, and get the attention and buzz your product, service, award or partnership deserves.