Getting a reporter to read—and act on—your press release isn’t always easy.
There are plenty of tips that can help make your press release eye-catching and appealing to journalists. But here are a few ways to guarantee that a reporter will absolutely not read your press release, or discard it quickly:
Send it to their personal email. You don’t want to be bothered at home, and neither do reporters. Sending them messages through their personal account is akin to calling their home phone or knocking on their front door. It’s intrusive and annoying—don’t do it. (Unless, of course, the reporter has instructed you to contact him in this manner; then by all means do it.)
Include the phrase ‘For Immediate Release.’ I delete any messages that have the phrase “For Immediate Release,” because I’ve simply never read a good press release that includes it. If you disagree with this, by all means, let me know—just don’t use my personal email.
Fail to personalize it. If you don’t want a reporter to read your press release, by all means just send the text of the release as the body of the email. At the very least, PR pros should acknowledge that they know the reporter’s name and his or her work, and that they sent the press release because they had read the journalist’s stuff and know what he or she covers.
Include a ton of copy and don’t hyperlink. I’ve seen several press releases that, instead of having hyperlinked phrases, include full, clunky URLs. This makes you look as though you don’t know what you’re doing and that you have trouble using email. Also, good pitches needn’t take up a full page. Pare it to the essentials, and I’ll know right away whether it’s something I would cover. Don’t make me read through a bunch of boilerplate nonsense before I get to your point.
Include a typo. As soon as I come across a typo in a press release, I discard it. End of story. If you can’t bother to spell-check or proofread your pitch, how can I assume you’ll get the facts straight?
Kevin Allen has worked or written for a variety of media outlets, including the Chicago Sun-Times, ESPN, The Huffington Post, and Fox Sports.