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The secrets of the press release

Having spent more years than I perhaps care to remember looking at press releases from the news editor or sub editor’s viewpoint, here are 10 tips on press releases, writes Andrew Howard of Lakeside Media public relations:

1: Always send press releases by email. Hard-pressed journalists won’t thank you if they have to type out huge swathes of quotes that you have already keyed in. And try to use curly quote marks!

2: The email subject line is the first thing that will be seen, so spend some time thinking about how relevant it is. You may not believe how many subject lines include the word ‘local’, so avoid that word, it just doesn’t stand out.

3: Always include photographs if at all possible. But don’t overload anyone by sending too many unsolicited. 10MG is the absolute maximum for most publications.  If you can, adjust the size of pictures appropriately, for newspapers that’s 200dpi and about eight inches wide for landscapes, for magazines 300dpi. And always include caption information! IrfanView is a great little free program that may help the non-professional.

4: One rule of humour in a headline is that if someone doesn’t read it as intended, it still has to make sense. So the funny headline is a bit of an art. Don’t try it unless you’re really good at it. You want the journalist to be interested, not confused.

5: Include your contact details in case the journalist wants to know more, and make sure you’re available via the details provided.

6: Send your press release to the right person, and don’t send it to lots of people on the same publication. You might think you’ve a better chance of it going in, but in reality it may get marked as spam by email filters, and in any event you’ll just annoy the newsdesk if lots of people try to file the same story.

7: Don’t keep ringing up the newsdesk asking: “Did you get my press release?” Remember, they get hundreds every day. One call is quite enough, more than that is going to be annoying.

8: Check the style of the publication you’re sending to, and follow that in your press release. If you’re sending to more than one publication, rework your press release to match.

9: Don’t forget most print publications also have online offerings, so include live web links in your press release if you can.

10: A bit of gratitude never goes amiss - if your press release is published, a thank you will probably be appreciated. But bribes are illegal under recent legislation!

For more advice on press releases, contact Lakeside Media public relations of Exeter by clicking here.