There’s an entire genre of blog posts dedicated to telling PR people how to do their jobs. Bemoaning bad practices in the public relations industry is almost a hobby for some journalists.
And yet, here comes another one.
Last week, TechCrunch was inspired to republish the entire list of its staff email addresses after a company began offering access for $9 a month to a database of tech writers’ contact details. Its point was that those addresses are easy to find for free and sending out mass emails will do you no good anyhow.
Reporters are deluged with emails on a daily basis and their eyes are attuned to skim over impersonal, scattergun spam approaches. Services that will send your press release out to thousands of journalists promise that your pitch will be seen by them but they can’t guarantee that it will actually be read. To achieve that you’ve got to be targeted and have a story worth telling.
Doing your research is key. Find out which writers are covering your sector and read what they’ve been writing recently. Understanding their particular interests will allow you to craft a much more effective approach.
Keeping your emails short and sweet is also really important – the longer your spiel, the less likely it is the journalist will get beyond the first line. If you don’t grab them with a clear and meaningful subject line, they won’t even get that far.
Laying out your email well will also give you a distinct advantage. Don’t send your information as an attachment. Put the key information in the body of the email and get to the point quickly. Use bullet points to make the content even more digestible and ensure obvious information like your web address and contact details are included.
Buzz words and hyperbole are a sure-fire way to turn off a jaded hack. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, you should let other people decide whether your company is a “game changer”, “revolutionary” or “disruptive”.
Those terms get thrown around so much they’ve practically lost all meaning anyway. If you’ve got a great product or service, the idea can be sold in simple and direct terms.
Above all, a good pitch will tell a story in a way that appeals to that particular journalist. If your email seems generic and bland, it’s never going to get their interest. Conversely, gimmicky approaches will make serious writers doubt you from the get-go.
If your pitch isn’t timely, it’ll also be headed for the trash bin. You need to show why your story fits into the picture right now, rather than in 6 months. Why does what you have to say matter today?
It takes two
Of course, the best way to get your company written about is to build relationships with the press. Get out to events and introduce yourself to journalists there. Have your elevator pitch prepared but be human first.
Bombarding journalists with information in person is just another way you can turn them off your company. Make your approach concise and intriguing and it’s likely they’ll ask for more.
Stick to the advice above though and only email specific people if you’ve got something to tell them that fits their beat. In the end, time spent on mass emails is wasted time.