One of the most important steps in becoming successful in public relations or brand development is building strong, trusting relationships with journalists and other opinion makers, especially those who connect with the market audience a brand wishes to serve. But what are journalists looking for in a release? What are some sure-fire factors that will get a release noticed, rather than deleted without being read?
The news business is all about cycles and deadlines. Even in a digital world with 24/7 news, timing matters. The plain truth is, the same story could be accepted or rejected based on the time it’s submitted. Journalists want stories about topics that are hot, something that will resonate and put eyes on their byline and their media brand. The question that should be asked is “how can this story be crafted in a way that will make an audience notice and care right now?” If a PR pro can supply content that is hot and timely, journalists will begin to look to that PR pro for more stories.
Clearly Communicated Information
While a full-fledged, multipage press kit is not always necessary, clear information presented in a compelling way is. If this information is communicated with additional high-quality visuals that help tell the story, even better. The idea here is to give enough to be compelling and to present it in a way that is easy to digest and repackage. Journalists do not want to have to sift through mountains of dross to find the gold for the story they want to tell. Give it to them well-fashioned and dynamic. This should include the core story, as well as important background, visuals, and connected information in case the journalist is interested in more. They may not use it, but they will be happy to have it as long as it’s presented well.
While much media is inundated with opinion, there is still no substitute for good, hard, demonstrable facts. Journalists love data, because those facts help anchor the story built around them. If a release offers clearly communicated well-documented statistics, numbers, and other data, that makes for a compelling pitch.
A Compelling Headline
Does the story have a strong hook, because headlines are make or break in the news business? Journalists are inundated with pitches, and they become numb to the same old lines. They want something that will grab their attention, because they know it will take that and then some to grab the attention of a reader scrolling through headlines on their smartphone.
And there it is, a clear measuring stick to answer the question, “Is my release ready to send?” Is it a timely message that is clearly communicated with a strong hook and chock full of demonstrable facts? If so, send away. If not, back to the drawing board.
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