Press releases: how to get noticed

NO MATTER how much advertising you place, there is no guarantee your press release will get a run in the media, says AdlinkJLS managing director John Carlson.

“Indeed, with most reputable media, the advertising and editorial departments are kept quite separate – and with good reason,” Mr Carlson said.

Despite pouring money into public relations efforts, many people wonder why their media releases don’t make the grade.

“It’s important to bear in mind that most journalists receive hundreds of media releases a day,” he said.

“On that basis, it is difficult to ensure that yours is seen, let alone read or published.

“It helps to find an ‘angle’ in your story that will be of interest to the journalist and which he or she will regard as being of interest to readers, listeners and viewers.

“You have to ensure that in doing this, the journalist has to do as little work as possible.

“Why should they spend time fixing your media release to make it useable?”

Mr Carlson said ways to maximise the likelihood of press releases being published included attaching a photograph, transparency or something of visual interest, and asking journalists which formats they prefer to receive electronic information in.

“With TV, we have found that providing graphics in the form of a video tape or CD-ROM presentation helps to obtain coverage,” he said.

“TV is highly competitive given the amount of time devoted to news is so limited.

“With print journalists, it is increasingly important to send media release by email so they can readily manipulate them into a form appropriate for publication,” he said.

Electronically delivered images should generally be in a jpeg or tiff format in the highest resolution possible. Don’t email files that are very large, however, as these can ‘clog up’ a server and stop other information coming through. In these cases, couriering a zip-disc may be the best option.

Louise Boylen, who joined Perth-based PR consultancy Ward Holt after a long career in journalism at The Australian and The Financial Review, said it didn’t matter whether information was delivered to the media by email or strapped to the leg of a carrier pigeon.

“It’s the content that matters and whether it ranks as news,” Ms Boylen.

“Ultimately, that’s what will determine whether your media release will make it into the news. If it’s not interesting and relevant, it’s headed for the recycle bin.

“So a genuine understanding of journalists and the journalistic process is far more critical than the delivery mechanism.

“Even more important from a business perspective, is whether coverage will achieve a strategic objective; for example whether a story will raise public awareness of an issue or generate interest in a particular event,” she said.

Mr Carlson said radio, or at least talk-back, was the most “immediate” media.

“As such, the more current the information, the more likely it is to be utilised,” he said.

“Radio is less competitive than TV, but it is important to choose the station carefully, giving due consideration to its target audience. Radio also offers opportunity for interviews and talk-back.”

Business announcements can be made more interesting by skewing them towards a popular issue. Figures and statistics are always useful.

“It is not enough to simply jot a few words on paper and hope the journalist finds your business as interesting as you do,” he said.

“The fact is, they generally won’t.

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