There are countless articles on how to write the perfect press release. This isn’t one of those. This article contains some suggestions on how to get your press release noticed in the chaotic atmosphere of a local television news station. Part of my job is sorting the releases, which means that I have to determine which ones get read and reviewed and which ones get sent to the “circular file.”
I understand that everyone’s event is important to them. In a perfect world, there would be a camera crew available to cover all of the events we’re invited to. In this world, we receive a hundred or more press releases every single day. We only have a few available crews, and with breaking news like major car accidents, murders, armed robberies, and all the other upbeat stories that always get instant coverage, we simply can’t stretch that far.
The Assignment Desk is a very hectic place, and the truth is that no one has time to read every word of every release. Even if there was enough time, by the fifty-second page, your eyes begin to glaze over.
But that doesn’t mean that your press release will automatically be tossed. We do read them, we do give them as much time as possible, and we do rely on them to keep abreast of the local activities. So, if you really want a news station to come to your event, here are some tips to help your press release rise above the rest.
1. Don’t make it too wordy! Keep it succinct and to-the-point. This is extremely important. If we can’t get the main idea in one quick scan, it probably won’t get the attention it may deserve.
2. Put all pertinent information in a bullet-type layout. Be sure to have the address, date, and time clearly marked apart from the rest of the information.
3. Point out why this event is an absolute must-see. If there’s an opportunity for great video, say so near the top of your page. If there’s going to be an awesome guest, make sure it’s obvious. Find your biggest selling point – from a media standpoint – and really drive it home.
4. Use visual elements such as font types, bold and italics, bullets, or spacing. Don’t be afraid to use large type! These help the major points stand out and catch our eye.
5. Have a contact person listed. This makes it easier for us to follow-up with questions, concerns, or occasionally, directions.
6. Call to follow-up. Now, if the coverage decision has already been made and the crews have already been assigned, this phone call will rarely ever change that. However, use the call to make sure that the release was received. Remember that faxes and email are technology and therefore sometimes fickle. By speaking to someone, you can be sure that your contact information for the station is accurate. There have been occasions where a quick phone call reveals that a release for a very interesting and compelling event was sent to the wrong email address. Don’t let this happen to your event. Always follow-up.