After my last blog post covering journalists’ tips for press releases, I was approached by a PR new to the world of journalism who had some questions. So I thought I’d share my answers.
These are based on my experience as a B2B journalist in the UK; journalists in other countries may operate differently.
Do journalists read all the press releases they get?
Very unlikely. The sheer volume of press releases you receive as a journalist means it’s impractical to read every one.
I used to decide which to open based on the email’s subject line and who had sent it.
And even if I opened it, I might just read the first paragraph or give it a quick scan and not necessarily do anything with it.
The reputation PR’s build is important. Those that send irrelevant or fluffy press releases are more likely to get overlooked.
How often should you catch up with journalists?
Different journalists will have different preferences, but bare in mind journalists are incredibly time-poor, so they will look at what value they can get out of conversations.
The key is being useful. If you have great stories, interesting insight and comments, that will help build a good relationship, and they are more likely to find time to catch up.
Getting a reputation as a PR that is always ‘bugging’ journalists without a good reason won’t do you any favours.
How do we find out when a journalist might be working on something that aligns with our area of expertise?
Some will plan more than others, depending on the nature of the publication/website.
Target the relevant journalist where possible for example, if you are a prop-tech business, target the journalist who covers tech and/or property and ask if they are planning specific features or specials.
If you build a good relationship with a journalist, they may contact you if they need a quote or ideas in your specific area of expertise.
Most journalists will have a list of go-to contacts they can rely on for good news tips or a comment on something happening in the market, particularly if they need something quickly.
When is the best time to send a press release? Should we give journalists a heads-up?
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all, I’m afraid. The best time will vary depending on the publication/website, its publishing frequency and overall deadlines.
For example, the weekly magazine I worked on had different deadlines for different sections throughout the week.
Thursday was when the lead news pages went to press. These were the big off-diary (non-press release) stories that were finalised, so it generally wasn’t a good day for sending a news release.
Online news sites will have timed deadlines during the day. They want their news pages to look fresh and regularly updated.
If they send subscribers a daily email with the latest headlines, they’ll need a quota of news stories published before it goes out.
Ask journalists at your target news outlets if there is a good time to send press releases.
Should you give journalists the heads up? As a matter of course, I’d say no – they are time-poor.
If it’s a big story and something you know they are tracking, then maybe.
Remember, what you think is important and newsworthy isn’t necessarily of interest to a journalist. They are looking for what will interest their readers.
Is it better to do an exclusive with one publication rather than doing a press release?
A journalist will decide how much time to spend writing up a press release based on the size/importance of the story to their readership and how competing publications and websites might treat it.
An exclusive takes out the competitive element, but is it a story worth an exclusive that will give that publication the edge over its rival? That’s what a journalist will consider when being offered an exclusive.
If you do agree to an exclusive, stick to what is agreed. It won’t help build a relationship if information promised as an exclusive appears in a rival publication around the same time.
Got a question about press releases? Drop me an email, and I’ll see if I can help firstname.lastname@example.org
More press release goodness
Want more tips about press releases? Here are four related posts, and if you still want more, type ‘press release’ into my blog search box for all relevant articles: