Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tips For PItching Stories and Press Release Writing

I put together the following information on Pitching/Press Release Writing! Enjoy!

When pitching a story to the media be familiar with the media outlet you are pitching. Your pitch should be about how your story will work for them. Don't do a general pitch ("A story about working mothers.") but suggest the segment the story would be right for, or what makes it right for them.

Effective PR writing must capture the essence of the story in its headline and first paragraph. Answer the Who? What? Where? When? Why? Which? and How? questions here. If a busy editor needs to shorten the piece, this should help ensure that the most important information will make it to print. It's the same with your final paragraph. A good release should survive what editors call 'top and tailing', yet still make sense and communicate the story effectively.

When you e-mail, make your subject line enticing. Using "Hello!" or something else that looks like spam will get it deleted without being read. Start with “For Immediate Release”: then give a short, punchy headline. Also when sending a press release by email be sure to copy and paste the press release in the body of the email. Often attachments will not get opened. It is best for the editor to have the information right in front of him/her when the email is opened. If the reporter needs an attachment make downloadable versions available on your website or offer to send attachments at their request.

Include links in the body of your press release - this makes it easy for readers (and journalists) to access the information quicker. Also, make sure that these links lead to a unique landing page specifically designed for your press release readers - don't just send them to your home page.

When following up on a release questions like "Did you get my news release?" or "Do you know when it will be printed?" will brand you as a pest. Don't follow up with a phone call to see if the media got your release, unless you are absolutely sure that someone will check for you. Most reporters and editors don't have time. If you do follow up, make sure you have a reason to call. Suggest a particular angle to your story, or ask the media people if they need any other information.

Don't take "no" personally. It may be that they have just done a similar story, or they can't fit it in, or it just isn't right for them. If you speak with someone, ask if they can suggest another show or publication where the story might work.
If at first you don't succeed, pitch again. But wait at least a month or two, and come back with a different angle (not exactly the same idea that got turned down).

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