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How to secure a spot in publications

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You’ve done the basic work. You’ve finalized the press release and have secured the approval of your client. You’ve pitched it to several publications and are now doing the waiting game.

But it has been several days. You’ve made a few follow-up emails and continue to wait. Two weeks, and you’re not seeing any progress still.

What gives? Maybe it’s timing, content, poor formatting or wrong media target. Perhaps it’s a combination of all of these.

Here are some tips to help increase your chances of landing a spot in key print and online publications.

Be timely

Why would media outlets pick up your Christmas gift guide feature article in late December, or even worse when it’s already January? Obviously, you should have pitched your story much earlier when it would have had better use to readers.

Make sure that your stories are fresh and new to boost your chances of making it into publications’ editorial calendars. If you wish to be included in holiday editorial calendars, pitch your story weeks — even months in the case of magazines — in advance. Remember, your story is not the only press release vying for editors’ attention.

Stop being a salesman

No one likes a shameless plug. Avoid making your press release a hard sell.

Don’t go overboard in highlighting your product’s features and USPs. Instead, focus on how your product can benefit users.

Review your editorial slant carefully. Does it sound forced? Is the editorial slant even related to the product you’re marketing? Are the product use scenarios actually factual?

Be original

Come up with unique, interesting and creative stories editors would want to include in their publications.

Monitor what your competitors have been up to. You wouldn’t want to replicate content that media outlets have recently published, particularly something about the same topic covered by a key competitor.

Keep up with current trends

PR practitioners should always be in the know. You need to be updated with current news and industry trends to be able to craft press releases that resonate with your target consumers.

Go for stories that revolve around today’s hot topics. Some editors or media outlets are more inclined to use articles that tackle current issues as these help them offer an immediate benefit to their readers or boost their reputation as being able to ride trends.

Hook with your email subject line

Editors receive hundreds – maybe even thousands – of press releases each week. They might easily overlook emails with generic subject lines.

Make sure that your email subject line is eye-catching enough to hook editors into reading your email and press release, and actually using the latter. Using “Attention: Press release for dissemination” as a subject line is a surefire way to turn off editors.

Check out some tips from our SEO article on coming up with great headlines.

Build good media relationships

Editors are more inclined to publish articles from PR agencies they know. This underscores the value of establishing strong media relations.

Get to know editors and journalists from different publications personally. Do press rounds or meet up over lunch or coffee. Keep in touch with them through email or social media.

Make sure that your media contacts are still working in the publications you are targeting. Regularly update your email lists.

Know your media well

Don’t pitch a consumer IT press release to business section editors unless the article has a business angle.

Sending an article not suitable for the publication not only conveys lack of knowledge about that publication and its target audience but also reflects lack of initiative – even inability – on your part to do your homework.

Use a format preferred by editors

Make it easy for your editors to copy and paste your press release.

Your personal knowledge about the different editors will come in handy here. If certain editors prefer having the press release in the actual email body, do so. If they prefer a file attachment, go the extra mile. Besides raising the possibility of having your story picked, tailoring your approach helps you be on the good side of your media contacts.

Lastly, sending clean, clear and on-point articles is definitely a plus. You help editors with their work if you give them articles that will not require a major overhaul and eat up a lot of their precious time. You also establish yourself as a credible and reliable PR partner that way.

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