6. START WITH A GOOD EMAIL SUBJECT LINE AND HEADLINE, says health writer, Nancy Gottesman. “If it’s a subject I’m interested in writing about, I open it.” If your subject line doesn’t resound with the recipient, it will go unopened.
7. UNDERSTAND DEADLINES. If the writer is at a newspaper, a couple of weeks prior to an event is ok, but, adds McNutt English, “Magazine writers need a good four-month lead time minimum, and usually at least two months for online publications.”
8. AVOID ATTACHMENTS. Do not attach the release to an email; attachments are the “kiss of death” for many journalists. Cut and paste the information into the body of the email.
9. BE BRIEF. Keep the release to one page. No superfluous jargon, no run-on sentences or paragraphs, no overused buzzwords. For example, the “greening” of anything is already getting tired, or even the word buzzword.
10. QUALITY COUNTS. Spell-check, double check dates, names, and titles, and be sure you’ve accepted changes from Microsoft Word’s track changes function before you send. Some PR pros now send releases out in PDF form to avoid sending a marked-up Word doc. PDFs also prevent outside parties from changing a release and forwarding it with misinformation.
NEW IS NEWS (AND SOME THINGS REALLY AREN'T NEWS)
The basis of an effective press release is the information it contains. Does your content warrant a press release? Before you begin writing, step away from your computer and ask yourself, “Is this news?” Examples of what can be considered news include new awards received, and new product introductions or extensions. Responsible companies also should release news of product recalls, legal proceedings for or against companies, or news about company principals.
If your information is not news, do not send a press release. Instead, write a personal note pitching the story to a contact, but do not mislead reporters with something less than newsworthy. Don’t risk becoming considered spam; a reporter might ignore the next truly newsworthy email from you or your company.
Marijane Funess is the Public Relations Director of theONswitch. You can reach her at email@example.com via Facebook or Twitter as mjfun.