When it comes to newspaper reporters and editors, it takes one to know one. So if you’re not getting traction with the press releases you’ve submitted to newspapers, find a former journalist to craft content that resonates with newsroom staff. Asking article writers, creative writers or your secretary who majored in English to write a press release is not going to get your small business editorial coverage.
Writers who have worked as journalists have a much better chance of getting your message into print. Here are four reasons why that’s true.
1. They’ve been in the trenches.
After spending years in a newsroom, these writers think like reporters. They can find a news angle for topics that may not seem newsworthy on the surface. And they know how to tie your company’s “news” to holidays, current events or public debates so it’s more relevant to the news cycle.
2. They know how to write for a newspaper.
A good press release is one that a reporter or editor can simply copy and paste without making significant revisions or corrections. Former journalists have the skills to create that kind of content. They can write using AP style, which a vast majority of American newspapers use. They can also craft an engaging lead sentence, avoid marketing jargon and write in inverted pyramid style. These elements combine to make a press release extremely attractive to newspaper staff.
Plus, when your release is printed verbatim—or close to it—your communications strategy remains intact. If a reporter has to rewrite the information prior to publication, your key messages may get glossed over or lost entirely. That means you lose control over the way your nuanced information is presented in print.
3. They know when a press release should be submitted.
Former journalists know how the news cycle works. They know when editors will be looking for stories. For example, before long holiday weekends, editors always need extra copy to fill pages. Therefore, a press release submitted on a Wednesday before a four-day weekend has a better chance of reaching print than one submitted on a typical Friday afternoon when news staff want to start their weekends.
4. They know how to make the press release user-friendly.
Reporters and editors are busy professionals working long hours, often for very little pay. They don’t want to struggle through your press release to find valuable information. Nor will they take time to read multiple pages of content to identify a story. Former journalists know that it’s important to get to the point quickly. Releases should be no longer than a page and should include easily located facts, statistics and contact information.
Garnering media coverage is a tricky endeavor for even the most experienced writer, but those who’ve walked in a journalist’s shoes stand a better chance of getting releases published. These writers possess a highly specialized skill set that will enhance your overall communications strategy.
Chelsea A is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.