A guide for making a reporter’s life easier—and getting some free press while you’re at it!

Every day, countless press releases are tossed into the trash bins of newsrooms across the country. Almost all of them will never get an inch of space in the newspaper, and the reason is simple—they’re boring and trite.

 Reporters don’t care about you or your product

It may come as a surprise to you, but reporters aren’t as passionate about your product as you are. They’re sick of being hassled by PR people all the time, and they hate having their time wasted with promotional hyperbole.

A reporter sifts through dozens of press releases every day, and unless they see something that interests them, it’s straight to the trash heap. In order to grab a reporter’s attention, you need to write a press release that makes their life easier.

 Think like amedium_8758444996 reporter

So you’ve got an idea of something you’d like to pitch. The first step to crafting a press release that could actually be printed in the newspaper is to try and gain the perspective of a reporter. Their job is to print news, real news, not marketing fluff. For something to be newsworthy it has to be of interest to the broader population—it has to scream news!

You have to be very selective about what you pitch to a reporter. A good way to cut through the promotional crap is to rate every attribute of your product or news. Here’s a good guideline, on a scale from 1 to 4, which can help you gauge the newsworthiness of your pitch.

 1.     Promotional fluff

It’s not going to cut it if your press release reads like an advertisement. If there are too many adjectives and too much hyperbole, then you’re probably trying to sell a bunch of promotional fluff.

 2.     Insider info

What’s interesting to you may not be interesting to the average person. It’s easy to get caught up in your specific field or industry, but you need to take a step back and think about if your press release would be considered news to the rest of the public.

 3.     Getting somewhere

You’re starting to think about the specifics that set your product apart from the crowd. Is it beneficial to the average person? Is it something new, does it fill a specific need in the community?

 4.     Front-page material

This is the life-changing, breaking news kind of press release that simply has to get published. It’s full of the drama of real-life: basically, it tells a good story.

If you rate all the aspects of your business on this scale, you’ll know what to pitch to a reporter, and even more important, what not to pitch. You won’t waste their time with boring self-promotion, and you’ll be making their lives easier by feeding them stories that are actually news.

And if you’re making their lives easier, then the reporter is going to love you and your product and will bend over backward to help you get the free press you crave.

photo credit: Kat Northern Lights Man via photopin cc

Adam Fifield