– Good day, I sent you a very relevant press release. Did you receive it and are you planning to publish it on your portal?
– Hello, no, actually I didn‘t see it. Perhaps I didn‘t receive it. Please send it again.
This short excerpt from a conversation is known by heart to those living in the PR world. It’s classic, which can be included in communication chrestomathy. There is only one problem – the mentioned conversation between a communication specialist and a journalist (or a news editor) includes several lies. Are you familiar with them?
I will help you.
I will start with the second lie. The journalist is lying that he didn’t receive the email with your press release. Why? Because technology is so entrenched these days that if you send an email, it will definitely reach its recipient. Otherwise, if there are any obstacles, the sender receives a system alert. So the question remains: why does the journalist claim that he or she didn’t receive that email?
Since I still often find myself thinking more as a journalist than a PR person, I will tell you a secret. Email to a journalist today, as well as to any other professionals, is a vital tool for work. And the typical phrase: “I didn’t see the email, please send it again” is used when the text you sent is simply not worth to be published.
You are going to ask, why then that journalist isn’t straightforwardly telling you the truth – that the text is unsuitable for publishing? It is because he or she doesn’t want to get into further questioning on how to improve the text to make it worth publishing. After all, it is not the job of a journalist to come up with this but the task of a communication specialist who gets paid for that.
And here we’ve come to the first lie that becomes a cornerstone of my blog post. “We’ve sent you a very relevant press release” is another phrase that is probably taught in some secret school of PR professionals.
Yes, I admit, it would be bizarre to hear a phrase: “Hello, I sent you a press release that is not very relevant” or “Good day, I sent you an article that is not very interesting, could you be so kind as to publish it?” All the texts sent by PR specialists seem interesting and relevant to them, and it cannot be any other way. After all, it is the same as with children – for every parent, their kids are the most beautiful and intelligent. Unfortunately, looking at this from another perspective, the reality is usually quite different (I apologise to all the parents if I insulted anyone).
So what should be done that the press release you sent would actually be interesting, relevant, and worthy of media attention?
What is selfish text? In my, an individual who has spent his last five years working in the media, opinion, it is a jumble of thoughts which only interests the client himself, perhaps the client’s employees (although it doesn‘t really matter to them either) and the sender, who is interested in airing the message. Because otherwise he will not get paid for the preparation and distribution of the text.
Why then such a text should end up on a portal if it is completely boring and irrelevant to the readers? Exactly, there is no reason for that. Forget texts that revolve only about the client himself, his accomplishments, investments, and the desire to advertise how amazing he is. It’s not interesting!
Look for the angles that would become relevant to a wide audience that would reach a broader context and not only the walls of the client’s office. Conduct researches and surveys, look for context that would be relevant to the majority, but would also be related to the activities of the client. Yes, it may cost more, but there is no such thing as a free lunch.
On the other hand, sometimes you only need to change the angle of the text itself. What sounds more relevant: “Company X invested Y euros and developed a new product” or “A product created by Company X will save time to thousands of customers”? Unfortunately, from my experience, I can assure you that the first option still seems more acceptable to some.
Good luck to you with getting published.
The world of communication also has its cycle where the topics are repeated over and over again each year. True, sometimes communication professionals themselves find it difficult to understand it and prepare for it in advance.
I will give you a basic example. Every year, a number of various memorable (if you can say so) days are celebrated in Lithuania and the entire world. For instance, Safe Internet Day.
On such a day, standard texts are usually prepared: “Which passwords are the most popular and can easily be hacked by programmers?” “Can you find your password on this list? You should be concerned!” That immortal classic…
I admit, the topic is relevant even though it’s quite corny. However, the problem remains – the news-editorial offices today surely receive more than one or two texts on an analogical topic. These are distributed by practically all mobile operators, antivirus software developers, perhaps even by some government institution. So how can the journalist choose, which from the five articles received is the most relevant? The logic is simple: often, the first article that reaches the journalist’s email gets published, and all the rest are left behind.
The authors of the latter then call the journalist, ask him or her to publish their article, try to convince that it is a fascinating text. Unfortunately, it is perhaps as interesting as all the other articles received, only it was also sent too late. So what should be done about it?
Prepare the ground for publication. You can contact the journalist the day before and inform that tomorrow will be such a day, and on this occasion, you will send a press release that might interest the readers. This way, you will outrun your competitors and will probably be the first to stand in line.
Of course, you can also try to be the first standing in line by distributing the press release at 5 a.m., but then you won’t be sure that the journalist who comes to work later will see your letter first.
There is one obvious purpose in the preparation of texts for the media – to impart a message about the client. In one way or another, that text includes the name of the client or the brand.
If you are itching to mention it in every second sentence – don’t do that. If you want to advertise – pay for it. If you expect a client to be mentioned for free in a published press release – don’t get your hopes up too often.
Of course, for some it may seem that the more times a reader reads the name of their client, the more chances there are it will get into his or her head. Although, in reality, you will only increase the chances of your text sent to journalists being immersed in the virtual trash.
The golden rule is to mention the client’s name in the text only once. If you like balancing on a knife-edge – try to mention it twice. Otherwise, you will have to desperately continue clicking F5 in your monitoring system and not see anything new there until you open your wallet.
The Lithuanian language is extremely complicated. Nevertheless, as the citizens of this nation, we must be able to write without mistakes. Especially if we work in the field of PR and are preparing texts. Unfortunately, we are all human, and sometimes we make spelling and punctuation mistakes.
Journalists are exactly the people who notice those mistakes. And they are always annoyed by them. They wish to spend as little time as possible on each text received and make sure that no mistakes would be published.
This means that the text for the media cannot include the smallest mistake. Read again. Twice. Three times. Until you are sure that there are NO errors. Pay attention not only to spelling but also to punctuation. Fix quotation marks. Check all the dashes so that they are the appropriate length. And for God’s sake, don’t send your press release in PDF or any other format that may cause difficulties when copying the text.
As I have already mentioned, the journalists want to spend as little time as possible on the texts sent by the PR representatives. So why should they be burdened by searching for an appropriate photo?
Yes, it might seem like such a detail, but sometimes finding the right photo can take longer than uploading the text into the system. Hence, you can make the life of journalists easier by always attaching appropriate associative photos to the press release you’re sending.
In this case, it is necessary to understand that the photo of the client’s representative, who is quoted in the text, is not appropriate to illustrate the press release (unless it is a comment).
For example, it is funny when next to a published insurance company’s press release about tragic accidents, there is a photo of an expert from that company. Does it illustrate how people look like after accidents? Probably not. Therefore, try to look for some associative shots that can be found on free photo platforms.
Another essential piece of advice that will come in handy if you want to be aired in the media more often is not to look at the journalist as a cow giving milk but rather as a colleague. Try to understand that in one way or another, he or she is doing you a favour. Therefore, sometimes you need to be thankful for it. And what is the best gift to a journalist? Exclusive information that others don’t have.