Have you ever called a newspaper or television newsroom to pitch a story you were sure they’d want to cover, only to be told, “Why don’t you send us a press release on that and we’ll get back to you if we’re interested.”
That’s a pretty standard response from assignment editors and reporters. What they are looking for is a quick summary of your story they can share with others in the newsroom. It will be used to make a decision on whether or not to cover your story.
I can tell you from personal experience, newsrooms receive dozens of story pitches a day, and if you want yours to stand out from the others, you need to follow-up right away with the documentation they’ve requested. If you don’t, your story will be quickly forgotten. There’s just too much competition from people who know how the publicity game is played, not to mention assignment editors and reporters are very busy people and don’t have the time to do your job for you.
So what’s the key to writing a press release that will get noticed and not thrown in the trash?
1. You need a good headline that will capture the reader’s attention. Make every effort to come up with one that highlights the benefit telling your story will have for the audience.
2. Put the main point you are trying to get across in the lead paragraph. Don’t save your best stuff for last.
3. Make sure the five W’s – Who, What, When, Where and Why appear fairly high in the release.
4. Include a link to your website where the reader can find out more information about you and your book.
5. Be sure to include contact information so reporters can get ahold of you quickly and easily if they decide to do a story.
Before you begin writing, make note of the fact that news editors and reporters aren’t interested in helping you make money or sell books. They are looking for a story that will interest their readers, listeners or viewers. Unless you’re a politician, local celebrity, the CEO of a major company of the like, the fact that your book has been published is not news per say.