Advice For PR People From A News Person

I have some advice for PR people from a news person’s perspective. Put simply, here are five tips to make it as easy as possible for me as a news producer to get your information and use it.

First, when you write your press release, don’t bury the details of who/what/where/when/why in a dense paragraph of text. I don’t like searching through your prose to figure out what address or time your event is happening. A lot of professional press releases call out this information in separate paragraphs surrounded by white space, either before or after the “pitch” or “sell”.

Next, If it comes to a choice between sending a hard copy of a letter or a fax or an email — send the email. Other formats are okay, but not as easy to use. With an email, I can copy and paste information from your release rather than having to type everything out myself.

Also on the topic of making things easy, when you send that email, give the title some meaning for me. It’s less likely that I’ll read an email with no title or something like “Press Release Attached” than (to pick an actual example from my inbox right now) “NASCAR Driver Delivers Pizza for Charity”.

When you send a press release, put the text of the release in the text of the email. I hate having to open Word or Acrobat Reader to find out what the story is, and if you were already on the borderline of my interest, that might be the thing that gets you dropped from my show.

Finally, if you’ve got a product or a person you’re telling me about, send along a photo or two. This piques my interest and makes it easier for me to decide if I want to spend time in my show on your product. This might not matter as much for a print reporter, but as a television producer I also need visual support for every story. That photo may be slightly boring on television, but it’s not as boring as a bunch of text on the screen. (Even better is if you have high-quality video for me to download from your web site or if you send me a video tape in the mail. Do NOT, however, send video in an unsolicited email. It takes too much time for me to download and open, and it fills up my precious inbox space.)

I know a lot of these things are probably taught in Marketing 101, but I also get a lot of story ideas that do not come from marketing professionals. Rather they come from regular people with no training who are trying to promote interesting events or products.

This entry was posted on Friday, June 23rd, 2006 at 5:53 pm and is filed under Work. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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