news2Is there anything sadder than a “Press” section on a website that’s filled with nothing but unrequited press releases? The good news about this is that many people have clearly gotten the message that public relations is a great tactic if one of your core marketing strategies is Generate Awareness. The bad news is that a sizable percentage of these same people seem to think that Public Relations = Press Release.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Too many press releases are primarily chest-thumping documents that contain little of interest to a reporter. People seem to forget that reporters are looking to write stories that will a) be good for their publication and b) will be good for their careers. People also don’t seem to realize that a normal reporter might receive as many as 100 inbound emails every day pitching ideas for stories.

I just read a great article on this topic written by Nicole Volpe Miller, a writer and editor with the Reuters organization for 15 years. The article, Why Are You Still Writing Press Releases? was originally written for Inc. and appeared in the Chicago Tribune.  This is how it starts:  If you are writing press releases and you are not a company the size of Apple or Procter & Gamble, you need to stop. To journalists, press releases are annoying. The format is outdated and the quotes clearly are made up. They are full of jargon and are self-serving.

Okay, message received. So what can you do to try to get someone to write about your genuinely exciting news?

  1. Determine if the story is interesting to anyone but you, your employees and your investors.
  2. If it is news-worthy, write out why you think your story is timely/relevant
  3. Make a list of reporters, writers, bloggers who typically write about topics like yours.
  4. If you’re the founder, reach out directly by phone. This can be super impactful as most founders/CEOs don’t take the time out of their busy days to make PR phone calls.
  5. If you send an email, make sure that the subject line is clear and interesting. In the body of the email, reference why you think this story is relevant for this specific writer/reporter.