HOW TO ATTRACT PRESS COVERAGE

Before you start thinking about how to attract press coverage, it’s important to understand the  structure of a publication. 

 

Editors, or Producers if your working in radio or TV, are the people who decide what makes it. Editors also decide who the best journalist is for a particular story, they also write themselves too. 

If you send a pitch (press release) to a journalist direct, in most cases, they have to run this past their editor for approval before publishing.

Journalists, Editors and in some cases whole publications themselves will have particular areas of interest, be it in sport, health, beauty, fashion etc. Their job is not to serve you and make your story fit. Their job is to serve their readers and while there is a link between sport and health, a sports journalist will not want to receive a press release about your new health juice. In the same way you don’t want to turn to the back page to read about a health juice. Put yourself in the shoes of the reader.


 

 

THEIR JOB IS NOT TO SERVE YOU

THEIR JOB IS TO SERVE THEIR READERS.

Journalists, Editors and in some cases whole publications themselves will have particular areas of interest, be it in sport, health, beauty, fashion etc. Their job is not to serve you and make your story fit. Their job is to serve their readers and while there is a link between sport and health, a sports journalist will not want to receive a press release about your new health juice. In the same way you don’t want to turn to the back page to read about a health juice. Put yourself in the shoes of the reader.

What the journalists say

We spoke to a few journalists and producers to find out what annoys them the most and just how much of what they receive is not relevant.

As well as Editors and Journalists, publications will have Desk Managers to filter out what isn’t relevant before forwarding what is to the Editor. We spoke to Lesley McDonald, Sports Desk Manager at the The Daily Telegraph to get her opinion.

 

"I probably get about four emails a day offering article/interview ideas.

 

Some have guessed our email address sport@telegrapph.co.uk - This isn’t monitored but there’s an auto reply mentioning their note won’t be read and to email me instead. Anything relevant I’ll pass onto the Sports Editor.

 

Most call first asking to speak to a journalist (our journalists are rarely in the office) and I request they email me.  Some have already emailed journalists direct and often receive no response. I have to explain that it is always better to email the desk direct (journalists may be on holiday or a pitch may be better suited to another sports journalist and they will generally ignore something if not of interest).

 

PR companies (sorry to say) seem to act in a generally haphazard way - guessing who they should email, or call me mentioning they have emailed several people.  I'm not sure why they do this - it's mostly a waste of time! 

 

It is better a PR company calls the desk initially. Perhaps other desks don't work in the same way - but this is how we work."

 

How to identify something as newsworthy?

So you’ve established your purpose, you’ve got your content, you know who to contact, but how do you know if it’s newsworthy or you’re just wasting your time sending.

 

F.U.R.D. 

 

Is it a first? 

Is it unusual?

Are people talking about it right now?

Is it disruptive?

 

If it answers one of these, it could mean you have a story, depending on the publication. 

Read

Reading newspapers and magazines is so important if you're going to understand who you should send what to. You'll also start to pick up how news or articles are written and get a feel for a Journalists style and publication's tone of voice. Think of it as research. 

Twitter

Another thing you could do is follow #JournoRequest and see what journalists are looking for comment pieces. This is also a great way to start connecting and building those relationships. If you have a product or service you would like a journalist or blogger to write about you can push it out on Twitter using #PRRequest. Follow us on Twitter as we’ll often retweet ones we think could be relevant for our audience.

 

Another good account to follow is @PressPlugs. They repost journalist requests which will contain the publication, the brief and the deadline for responses.

In Twitter you can also create lists. For example, you could create a list of football writers so your feed only shows what their posting. Again, another great way to build relationships over time.

PR Resources

Another free source is HARO - Help A Reporter Out. It can be quite US focussed, but there is a check box so you can opt into just UK requests. 

 

Response Source is useful as it also has an address book of journalists and their email addresses. You can sign up for a one week free trial before choosing the subscription that works for you. You can also subscribe for free to their email, which’ll send you a round up of journalists and broadcasters who have moved jobs, and sometimes, contains their Twitter handle, which is useful to start building up your lists.

Google Alerts are also a great way to see what people are talking about right now. You can put in keywords and phrases which relate to your business, see what people are saying and perhaps write a response either for the journalist to write a follow up, or simply just a piece of content for your own website.

 

How to write a press release

So now you have your brand purpose, your content, you know what not to do and what is newsworthy, how do you present it to the press in a way that captures their attention?

 

Read our article that breaks down how to write a press release, what the structure should look like, how to craft a perfectly worded quote and learn what a boilerplate is. 

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