Every morning, word counts in the millions fly over newswires. They’re slapped up on corporate news web pages and are spammed to lists of BCC’d reporters.
Like the nine-to-five office worker writing the next Great American Novel on his evenings and weekends, the majority of these releases never get picked up.
This copy is sometimes drafted at the last minute, with reviews taking place late into the evening.
Sometimes it’s prepared weeks in advance, only for an executive quote to be tweaked minutes before it goes live.
It can be stressful.
If you believe there must be a better way, you’re right.
It’s time to put ol’ man release on the leash for one long, final walk to the recycling plant.
Reporters are slammed, and news rooms are shrinking. We know this already. That doesn’t mean they want us to write their stories for them via release. It also doesn’t mean they’re happy to cover the same story you’ve simultaneously sent two dozen of their colleagues.
Fear not. The answer lies within you, young Jedi.
You’re already drafting pitch notes when you email these releases. You’re already crafting compelling subject lines. You’re already offering up a value-add interview subject, either a subject matter expert (SME) who can dig into the details of a fascinating development or a senior executive who can share sector-shaping thought leadership.
If you’ve got interesting news to share, a reporter will make time to cover it.
If you draft your pitch only discover there’s nothing worth covering, then you’re doing yourself, your organization and reporters a favour! None of them want you to spend time on something that won’t achieve your desired result.
A pitch note takes a fraction of the time and bureaucratic approvals that a news release does.
If you’re saying, “Yeah, but my executive wants to tell the story our way,” then the premise for sharing a release is misguided. Tell them that you value the relationship you have with the media.
Reporters don’t want to tell your story your way.
Tell your executive that you’d hate to put the relationships you’ve cultivated in jeopardy by being the person a reporter clicks the spam button for.
When attention is a commodity, you lose when you waste time.
If you want to tell the story your way, turn it into a compelling blog post on your own channel. Cut out the middleman and aim the copy at the eyeballs of your target audience. Your executive can email this blog post around to internal and industry contacts they think need to see it. You can share it on your social channels. If you really want to make sure people see it, you can boost it with paid promotion.
Yes, there will still be smoky corners that ol’ man news release’s ghost will haunt, shuffling his deck of cards in a never ending game of Klondike solitaire.
But for the coverage you need right now, a well crafted pitch note deployed to the correct reporter and a thoughtfully-selected SME or executive to speak on the matter will get you there.