As a journalist, your inbox gets flooded daily with missives from PRs and communications teams. You need to be kept abreast of the latest developments, so welcoming this information is part of your job.
As a PR, sending press releases out is an essential part of your work, too – it’s how you communicate the message your clients want delivered to the largest amount of contacts possible.
So why is this relationship fraught with difficulty? Why do many PRs find their emails are immediately despatched to the ‘Trash’ folder, and journalists despair that they’re not sent the info they need?
As working journalists with many years experience on national magazines and newspaper newsdesks, we at Nine Media Training know why. And there are five common mistakes that every PR should be aware of before they happily press that ‘Send All’ key. Avoid becoming a journalist’s G.R.I.P.E. with our tips – and book one of our courses for tailored advice to improve your results.
Greeting: Getting your addressee’s personal info right is key. It sounds obvious, but a ‘Hi Mike’ when it should be Mark in the greeting line will see a quick application of the delete button. Ditto a ‘Hi Sir/Madam’ or using the name of the person who used to work there two years ago. It doesn’t take much to find out the right name you need – so do it.
Relevance: Who are you sending this info to? It doesn’t matter that you have 500 emails on your contact list if they all work for women’s mags and you’re sending them info about the latest logistics stats in the trucking industry. Hone your targets carefully and remember – sending a few targeted emails is much better than thousands of thoughtless ones.
Intent: Are you offering someone for interview? Inviting the journalist to an event? Telling them some new information for a story? Pitching a feature? A clear direction for your email is key – just burbling on for 400 words about your client’s amazing new purse-come-umbrella innovation isn’t enough.
Pithy: Keep it short. Journalists are busy, and their attention won’t be drawn by a wordy, all-the-information-you-could-ever-need email. Write the bare minimum to get your message across – if journalists need more info, don’t worry, they’ll ask for it!
Excitement: Yes, we’re sure you are genuinely thrilled by National Watercress Week. But suffixing everything with three exclamation points, being over-familiar in your language (OMG, hon, that’s right!!!) and putting a ‘x’ at the bottom doesn’t make journalists feel the same way – it’s just likely to irritate.