There’s a clear way around press release failure and it’s called the pitch. A lot like it sounds a pitch is a fast throw at busy editors about a possible story. If they want to find out more, then you send the press release.
That leads me to a huge pet peeve: Sending out press releases via e-mail to a list of editors. From my experience it’s never – ever – worked. I no longer try it and suggest you don’t either. It’s a waste of your time and all of the editors. Instead:
1. Focus on a handful of your “dream publications.” For me, I’d like to get into Fortune Small Business, Entrepreneur magazine and the Wall Street Journal. When picking your publications, think of your target audience. What do they read and why do they read it?
2. Pick the section you’d like to appear in. You never know, but chances are you won’t appear on the cover of the publication in your first attempt at placement, instead, focus on sidebars, resource listings and short news sections. Almost all print pubs have them. Look at it as the waiting room for bigger and better stories on the unique products and/or services you offer.
3. Find out who the editor is. Once you have your section, find out who’s in charge of it. You’ll need the person’s name, e-mail address and the most important element of successfully getting placed in the publication . . .
4. Learn what the editor needs. The number one thing you’ll need to know about the editors you’re targeting is the kind of information they want to publish in their sections. There are two ways to do that: You could ask, but then that could open up a can of worms if the editor doesn’t want to get calls – and most don’t. Or, you could compare a few back issues of the publication to find out what they’ve published in the past.
5. Create the pitch. You’ll want to start your pitch by stating your understanding of the editor’s needs. Then list – in clear bullet points – how your news fits his or her requirements. Note: Always leave your phone number in the text of the pitch e-mail to give the editor easy access to you – and your story.
6. Repeat steps 1 through 5 until you get a response. Sound tedious? Maybe. But at least the time you spend on this will reap much better results than sending one release out to thousands of editors – right along with other business people hungry for coverage.
Bottom line: It’s about building relationships with editors. And the only way to build a relationship is to find the need and fill it – consistently and considerately.