Here's today's quick-and-easy media relations tip:

Don't send your press release to multiple people at a small media outlet (or, really, any media outlet).

Why? At least four reasons that I can think of off the top of my head:

  1. You're effectively spamming most of the people on the list because we have absolutely no use for your news. And you know how YOU feel when you get spammed. Think about it if happened several times a day. Or if the same person kept doing it.
  2. You're increasing the likelihood that nobody will use your release because it's too easy for us to assume the other people you sent it to will. Example: A local business owner kept sending news to all the reporters at the paper except, for some reason, me. And I'm the only one who'd run her stuff because it's straight business. Since everyone ELSE was getting the announcements, they assumed I did, too (it was a bcc situation, so they couldn't know for sure). As a result, the woman's stuff never got in the paper. Until last week, when she saw me at the pizza place and asked why we never ran her news. I asked why he never sent it to me. Hmmm. Result: Her item ran in my feature this week.
  3. You're ticking me off. I'm the business reporter and I write only monthly. If you read our paper, you'd know that. And you wouldn't send me your news release on an art show two days after my last feature promoting an art show (not my beat) two weeks before my next scheduled feature. It feels like you're wasting my time. How do you feel when people waste your time?
  4. You're losing goodwill for your organization. Here's the deal: when you spam me and waste my time, I don't feel good about you or your company/charity/whatever. That means that I not only kvetch about you in the newsroom. I might tell my friends about your pesky ways if you do it enough. And I'll certainly think twice before patronizing your business or supporting your organization. So in effect, you end up working against your own promotional efforts.

What can you do?

  • Peruse the outlets you're targeting before building your list. Then choose the reporter most likely to be interested in your news based on their previous coverage or stated beat (i.e., arts, business, general assignment). When in doubt, call and ask, or choose the editor, news director or assignment/managing editor.
  • Be upfront. If there truly are a few reporters who might care, send one email with all of them on copied (not bcc'd) so we know that ahead of time.
  • Ask for help. It never hurts to say something like, "If this isn't a good fit for you, please pass on to a more appropriate reporter and let me know so I don't spam you again". You'd be amazed how effective this can be.

Good media relations isn't rocket science. It's mostly common sense and common courtesy. If you're going to spend your own time and money creating press releases (or paying someone else to), why have them go to waste by not going the last mile to get them in the hands of those most likely to use it?


Want more tips and such on media relations? Read these posts: