After you’ve written a press release the next step is getting it into the hands of an editor. You need to match the PR message to a targeted publication. Yoga Journal, for example, doesn’t want to receive a press release about a new class for seniors. But a local publication geared to the over-65 crowd would be very interested in it.
This is the most important aspect of press release distribution: don’t waste the editor’s time. Editors want material that’s pertinent to their audience. If you give them relevant material, they will be more likely to run it. If you give them material unsuited to their readership, it will end up in the trash.
How do you find out about appropriate places to send your press release? Along with keeping your eyes open for publications and asking your students what they read, the library has many references. Use these to look up local publications or publications that are specific to your target audience:
Bacon’s Newspaper-Magazine Directory & radio/TV
Gale Directory of Publications and Broadcast Media
Newsletters in Print
Oxbridge Directory of Newsletters
The web is also a great place to research where to send a press release. There’s a web resource list at the end of this article to help you with your distribution.
Don’t forget your local cable television stations when distributing press releases. In one case, I was working with a rural holistic health center that was having a difficult time getting people to come to free, community seminars. I contacted the local cable station, and coordinated with them to have the lectures taped. They were then aired numerous times to over 6,000 households in the area. And the holistic center got copies of the taped lecture for their library.
You can send your press release via snail mail, email, or fax, depending on the editor’s preference. Fax or snail mail is usually acceptable, while email is sometimes frowned upon. If you do use email, don’t send the release as an attachment; it won’t be opened for fear of a virus. Instead, send the release in the body of the email message. Also, use the message header to grab the attention of the editor. A message in the inbox called “press release” will be met with much less enthusiasm than “Recent Study Demonstrates Value of Massage Therapy.”
Feel free to call the publication and ask who would be the appropriate contact for your release and the preference for distribution.
It certainly helps to develop a solid relationship with your main media contacts. Know the stories they cover, send them appropriate news releases, and make sure you follow up with a thank you note if they cover your story.
http://aboutpublicrelations.net/toolkit.htm I just love this content rich site, particularly the toolkit. It’s more than just press releases. The site is about the broader subject of public relations.
http://www.prleads.com This is a service that matches reporter’s writing an article to subject expert, which is a different approach than just writing and distributing press releases. I’ve used this service and it’s given me insight into the journalist’s view on stories, which is helpful. And some of the content I’ve written in response to a request I later developed into my own article when the reporter wasn’t interested in using me as an expert. Be prepared to sift through a lot of email requests if you decide to use this service.