Journalists are the gatekeepers who decide whether to print your press release or use your company as a source.
Basically, there are three times you’ll be talking to the journalist – before sending the press release (or offering yourself up as a source), when actually sending the press release, and after you’ve sent it to them. This gives you three times to completely mess up your chances of getting your press release seen by millions of people. Here are how to treat these respective conversations so you don’t burn any bridges.
Before the Press Release
Ideally you want to talk to the reporter before you even write the press release in the first place. If you have a relationship beforehand you have a much better chance of actually getting your release into the paper or magazine where the journalist works. This way you’re not just sending a blind email where the journalist has no idea who you are at all.
Do some research to see who the journalists you’ll likely contact in the future will be. You should have a pretty good idea of who works in your field and covers the type of info your business might relay at some point. For example, if you’re in the tech industry, find out who has covered stories in that field for newspapers and magazines you might want to appear in later.
Now, get to know those people. Do they have a blog? A Twitter account, perhaps? Talk with them on their various social media and websites and get to know them. Tell them you’re available as a source to help them with other projects – anything to get on their good side.
After You Have a Press Release
Once you’ve gotten your press release perfected, it’s time to let them know you’re interested in getting printed. Now don’t make the mistake of assuming since you know this journalist that they’ll automatically put your story into the paper – your press release still has to be amazing, simple as that. If it isn’t, they won’t run it.
But definitely remind them who you are, if you’re not sure they won’t recognize you right off the bat. Since you’ve had a history now, remind them of a little bit and make the email a little more personal than you would with everyone else. You can tell them directly why they would like the story rather than stick with a generic query.
After You Send the Release
There’s a fine line between a reasonable follow-up and pestering. Of course you want to see your story in the paper, on TV or on the net as quickly as possible, but don’t make the mistake of being too pushy.
Give your journalist contact time. They are super busy and only have a limited amount of space, bandwidth and patience. If your press release doesn’t go up right away there’s typically a reason why. If you still haven’t seen any movement after a few periods (maybe two weeks for a newspaper, depending on if it’s daily or not) then feel free to send a polite email asking if you can send more info. If your story won’t be run, they’ll probably let you know at this point. On the other hand, maybe you slipped through the cracks and a gentle reminder will get you back in the running.
What’s the best way to get to know a journalist you might send a press release to later on?
Notes on Emailing a Journalist