When Should You Send a Press Release?

What shall we do about Press Releases?

Journalists say they don’t like them, so why do we send them? What shall we do instead?

I will be straight up with you and say I don’t know. There are as many opinions on this as there are stories and journalists to write them.

Back in the day on a small BBC Radio station in the sticks we liked press releases because it gave us a safety net in case there was nothing to say. That as it turned out was quite often. In an area with little news you are forced to make a silk purse out of a sows ear and if you think I am joking you have never read out the fat stock prices. (The weights of pigs and other animals due at market, broadcast by very tired journalists to farmers early in the morning.)

In a very newsy patch you are going to have to work harder to get the hack’s attention. Having said that if it is real, hot, breaking news then it’s academic how you release it, you are in the driver’s seat. You can tweet it, press release it or just phone them up and tell them about it.

So what we are really talking about is how to get the coverage we want when they need persuading.

If they are in position A you have to find out what they want and give it to them. Some journalists prefer a concise written pitch by e-mail, others like to get a tweet. Specialist journos hate it when you send them stories outside their niche and if you think that is arrogant you just have to live with it because they will delete your e-mails.

So is the press release dead? Is it still worth sending one out? Here’s my view but I would love to hear yours.

  • Send a release to add substance and detail to a story you have already pitched on the phone.
  • Send a release to publications you know are short-staffed enough to cut and paste your story straight into the paper.
  • Turn your release into an e-mail pitch, which is very short and to the point.
  • Send a release to people you know would be happy to receive them.
  • Send a release when you are in a very strong position and you and your client have decided that this is the only way you will break the news.

Any more? Do tell.


3 responses to “When Should You Send a Press Release?

  1. Working in a specialist market as I do, I think that the 2nd and 4th points are especially relevant.
    The whole idea of a release to my mind is to make the journos’ lives easier (dont we all like an easy life?). However, they have to be factual and entertaining, not just corporate hype!

  2. Thanks Geoff,
    I agree, no hype and no jargon.

  3. Useful points Lucy, particularly number one. How many times do people call a journalist saying “I’ve got a press release here, who should I send it to” rather than selling the story.

    I also like point 3.

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