Do's and Don'ts Of Emailing Press Releases
By Kevin Nunley © 2005
I'm a big
believer in EMAILING press releases. Not only is email dirt cheap, email can
often get you in front of editors a lot faster than regular mail or
Here's why. Media outlets like radio stations, TV stations, and
newspapers get a TON of press releases. During my 20 years working in radio and
TV, we got bag loads of mailed press releases every day.
percent of them came from politicians and local college athletic programs. Their
publicity people are told to send out a release several times a week--whether
they have any real news to tell or not. Consequently, media get a release every
time a congress person helps someone or an athletic field house gets a new
Are these mailed press releases ignored? You bet they are.
Most go straight from the mail bag to the trash. Who has time to open 150
envelopes when most of them are pushing some story you will never be able to
use? I know I'll get some notes from a media workers who will say "WE don't do
it that way at our place." And you can be sure a few news rooms are very
organized about opening, reading, filing, and using releases.
releases work better, but not that much better given the expense. I worked at
one station where the manager got tired of the fax machine burning up cartridges
printing releases. Faxed releases were routed to the receptionist's computer
where she deleted them.
At another media outlet, faxes, ads, and all the
other things that get faxed spilled out on the floor. Some were read, others
were used for scratch paper, and most were trampled on until somebody bundled
them into the trash.
But wait a minute! If nobody is reading press
releases, why do studies claim that 75% of the stories you read in newspapers
originate from press releases?
The answer lies in email. Email makes it
easy to receive a release, forward it to the staff person who covers that
particular topic, then store the release in an email "futures" file where it can
be pulled up as needed.
It's incredibly easy for newspaper people to
import the email release into their writing program, change the headline, tweak
a few things, and run it as a story. Editors don't like to admit they do this,
but we've seen big city newspapers run our releases as articles with very few
You can't blame journalists for doing this. Media outlets have
cut staffs over and over again during the past 15 years. One person now does the
work of three staffers.
Here are some tips for making your emailed
release the starting point for a media report:
- Start your subject line
with RELEASE. Then follow with the most newsworthy/titillating part
- Make your headline the
first thing in the body of your email. I like to use two headlines,
the second adding more information the first didn't
have room to mention. The media person should be able to tell what your release
is about just by reading the headlines.
- Include your contact
information after the body of the release. This is becoming the standard
way to do things on the Net. Journalists are now used to looking at the
- Keep your release under
400 words. Make sure you have good information the media audience wants,
otherwise you don't stand a
chance of getting coverage.
- Take time to send your
release to your local media. They are more likely to use your story
than out-of-town media.
find their email addresses by searching for their sites on search engines.
your release to trade publications covering your field. Even small
developments can be of big interest to others in your line of work.
One photographer client sent her release to photographic magazines
in almost every one.
- Go national. Get the
Gebbie Media Guide at Gebbie.com. It's affordable and
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