If you've tried to secure media coverage for your company only to have the frenetic pace of trends knock your company off the media radar, take heart. It's not your fault.
Do you remember the Ani DiFranco lyric about the goldfish? "The little plastic castle is a surprise every time?"
Of course you don't.
Because according to the latest research, our attention span has dropped at least four seconds in the last decade. We are a people who just can't pay attention to anything for more than a swim around the bowl.
Those reporters, editors and bloggers you're trying to reach are just as inundated as you are with constantly changing information. It’s important to understand the pressures editors and reporters are under in order to constantly push out content.
If you can help them along by following some simple steps, you’re going to be ahead of the hundreds of people who email and pitch them daily.
The public relations field has also expanded in recent years to a degree that media relations specialists now outnumber reporters by nearly 5 to 1, so it’s key that you develop relationships with media and provide them with quality, dependable content in a timely manner.
One factor behind the increase in public relations jobs has been digital technology. With so many businesses and charities competing for visibility in the media, public relations professionals are working harder than ever to set themselves and their clients apart from the sea of stories.
Lisa Schofield, magazine editor, copy editor and writer, shares her advice on contacting the media with story ideas. Her five tips may just help you secure exciting coverage for your next event or news.
Lisa advises you to…
1. Avoid Being Too Cute for Words
Don’t try to be too cutesy or edgy. A strong release is one that delivers all the key facts along with insightful and compelling quotes and prose. Let the editorial team be the creative ones.
2. Clearly State Your Lead
Similarly, don’t bury what should be the lead element of the news. Don’t write a feature story, again, let the editors do that. Editors do not have the luxury of time to sift through a release that reads like a feature in order to derive the nuggets of facts.
3. Hide Your Sloth-like Sources
Ensure your sources will be available and can speak in-depth about the topic. It is frustrating to an editor who wants to dive more deeply into the angle with the source — who is monosyllabic and lazy in his/her responses.
4. Know Your Media’s Needs
Know your media, each one, so you can sculpt your pitch and release to its particular audience and editorial style when you are contacted for more information.
5. Proofread for Accuracy
Proofread your release for accuracy in spelling of key names (brands, people, etc.) as well as contact information. Frankly, most editors don’t care (or shouldn’t) if a release has a few grammatical errors or typos. They use the release for the facts, for the information, and as a potential resource for larger features. But if a name is spelled two ways or a phone number is wrong by one digit, this will frustrate the editor who has to get ahold of you to double check.
More about Lisa
Lisa Schofield is a professional magazine editor, copy editor and writer. She began her career in 1985 interviewing and profiling famous rock musicians for several popular music magazines. She has been editing and writing independently for 11 years and enjoys a wide diversity of projects.
Sources: National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, The Associated Press, Pew Journalism Research Project
photo: Jamie Henderson