10 Tips for Getting a Reporter’s Attention

What do journalists want?

That’s the question PR practitioners always ask when sending info to the media. The answer, of course, can vary. However, there are some common denominators that can help ensure your press release gets read, and used, by the media.

I am a journalist, and I have my own PR company. As a frequent guest on media panels, I am often asked by PR pros for tips on getting media coverage. So, several years ago, I asked some fellow reporters/writers for advice I could pass along to PR reps. After collecting the answers,  I molded them into a short list I call…

Trela’s Top 10 Tips for Getting a Reporter’s Attention

  1. Anything that makes their job easier is great, anything that wastes their time isn’t. Learn what specific journalists cover, and use that to your advantage.
  2. Email is often the best way to reach a journalist or editor. Phone is second best. Fax still works in certain situations. Snail Mail is slowest, but some old school journalists still enjoy using a letter opener.
  3. The email subject line is there for a reason—use it wisely.
  4. Always use inverted pyramids when presenting info in a press release.
  5. Many (but not all) journalists love quotes in a press release. It can help round out a story if they’re pressed for time.
  6. Think twice before sending an email with an attachment. First, some email systems have firewalls to send emails with attachments into the Twilight Zone. Second, don’t make a journalist take extra time to open an attachment. Put everything in the body of an email.
  7. Make sure your information is correct, and use spell check.
  8. If you are asked to email photos, make sure they’re worthy of publication (in size, format and style)
  9. Be pleasant and professional when dealing with journalists. They’ll want to deal with you again.
  10. Be patient. Coverage may happen that day, that week, or that month—often when you least expect it.

Seems so simple, and it is. Reporters are incedibly busy people, and they barely have enough time to write their assigned articles, much less respond to PR requests for coverage. However, PR reps can increase the chances for coverage if you follow those 10 simple tips.

Got any tips to add to the list? I’d love to see them!

Thanks for reading! More PR and writing tips coming soon.

Christopher Trela / ArtsPR

Adjunct Professor of PR, Chapman University

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PR Pet Peeves

I’ve been a journalist for 20+ years, and a PR pro for more than 15 years. As a journalist, I know what I want from PR folks. As a PR guy, I know what journalists want.

That’s why I cringe when I receive press releases and pitches via email from reputable sources that make my Pet Peeve meter hit the danger zone. Does the sender know they’re a finger tap away from the delete key? An email from a PR person should make me take notice, not make me take leave.

I’ve talked to a lot of journalists and editors, and they all tell me the same thing: they read their emails with one finger hovering on the delete key. You have about 3 seconds – maybe less – to grab their attention. If you can’t do that in the subject line, your pitch or press relese will never be read.

So what triggers my delete finger?

1) A subject line that contains the words PRESS RELEASE. I know you’re sending me a press release. Give me the details in the subject line. I store my emails, and if I have to go back and wade through dozens of emails that scream PRESS RELEASE, I’ll never find your info.

2) Not putting your press release in the body of the email. Don’t make me download a press release–I don’t have time, especially if your attachment is a large file. And why is it a large file? Because your logo is one megabite and you didn’t bother to resize for your press release.

3) Not making your press release easy to read. I get countless press releases with an opening paragraph so dense and confusing that I need a road map to find my to the end. Make it easy on my eyes and give me short paragraphs with easy to digest chunks of information. You’re not writing a thesis, but I’m writing an article–or might want to if you give me what I need, how I need it.

And if you want to make me REALLY happy, send me a paragraph or two that highlights the key points of whatever it is you’re pitching, and then paste the press release below that.

Thanks for reading! More FAST PR and writing tips coming soon.

Christopher Trela / ArtsPR

Adjunct Professor of PR, Chapman University

Posted in Fast PR Tips, Writing Tips | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment