In an age that thrives on digital communications, the phone is still the most reliable source for reaching out to the media. Certain media outlets literally receive thousands of press releases every day. I remember standing in The Oregonian’s newsroom back in the day when the fax machine was still current and feeling utterly speechless when I saw fax after fax — all touting the title For Immediate Release — continuously coming through. I understood then that it was no joke that we PR fools are competing with too many other brilliant story ideas.
While it is true that a captivating headline, a newsworthy angle and a fresh approach are a must for getting your press release to standout — sometimes all it takes is a simple phone call to get the job done. You may have the most brilliant press angle but a busy editor might not have the time to cull through your three-page press release, not to mention the fact that she/he might not have even noticed it among the other 500 e-mails that made it into their in-box that day.
Forget the press release! Formulate your pitch into a two sentence phone message or opening phone conversation and use the delivery of the press release as a follow up tool.
You may be surprised at what might materialize from this phone call. You might discover that while the story idea is great, the press contact is more interested in a different story angle that you can deliver. You might even begin to make in-roads for a future campaign/client. You might be able to offer some additional information that will seal the deal. Or you may just hear the most coveted words of all…”yes; we’re interested, let’s schedule an interview now!”