Making a press release stand out from the crowd is one of the ultimate aims for any PR professional. Gaining coverage in the national media is often regarded as the pièce de résistance. The reasoning behind this is simple…it’s difficult. Additionally, it demonstrates that you’ve written a good story. Selling in your release or idea to the UK’s best-known newspapers is a challenge, but there are measures you can take to increase the likelihood of your story making it through the noise.
In many cases journalists, writing for print or online, will already know what stories they are running with very early in the day, so your window of opportunity is short. Journalists are incredibly busy people, but they do want to hear from you if you’ve got a good story. They can appear blunt and a little formidable over the phone but if your story is strong they will listen.
From my own experience I have identified a few little insights into what works and what doesn’t. Preparing a script to have in front of you when pitching your release is crucial. You’re not going to get long so make sure your points are clear, catchy and reflect the most exciting or interesting parts of your story. It also helps to have your notes written in a more colloquial style, so you don’t end up sounding like a robot. Finally, forget pleasantries, go straight in with your story idea, telling the journalist you’ve got a piece which may be of interest to them. It’s not rude, it’s efficient and journalists appreciate this, they don’t want you asking how their day is going!
It is integral to build relationships with journalists first, and this can take time. Journalists receive countless emails and phone calls on a daily basis, so in many cases you’ll need to go that extra mile in order to develop a rapport with them. Understanding what each journalist specialises in is key so make sure you’ve done your research on them, their recent articles and their areas of interest.
The importance of a good photo can also not be underestimated. It’s an opportunity to grab the journalist’s attention and really sell your story through an image. Infographics are becoming increasingly popular as well, suitable for print and online and a great way of presenting facts and figures in a very simple and attractive way. Another important thing to remember is that your correspondence with a journalist doesn’t have to be about a news story. Editorial and thought leadership pieces are also welcome and if you want to set up an interview for a client or invite a journalist along to a media event, that is perfectly acceptable.
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