Whether we PR professionals want to come to terms with it or not, the media is not our mouthpiece that will print exactly what we want, when we want it. They are the ultimate gatekeepers who determine the extent of media exposure that will be granted to us or our clients. The sheer volume of press releases that cross their desk each and every day ensures that only a fraction will receive review, and an even fewer number will be published in some capacity.
But don’t despair! Rarely is an ignored press release a direct reflection on your business or your media relations skills. Rather it could be any number of possible circumstances. Take a look:
It wasn’t really news.
The hard truth is that you’re likely to think everything your organization does is newsworthy because, well, it involves you. It can sometimes require taking a step back and role playing a reporter to determine whether or not something is worthy of media attention. Just because it’s not a good fit for the media, doesn’t mean you can’t promote it in other ways. Utilize your website, blog, social media, and newsletter to tell your story.
It was overly promotional.
Be sure to learn the best practices of writing a press release. Your headline can make or break your chances of getting picked-up. If you start off overly promotional, with a heavy focus on your business or brand, this is a huge red flag to a reporter that this isn’t a helpful “news hint,” it’s a PR tactic. As much as a client may want to see their name in the title, explain to them that this isn’t the best media-bait.
You’ve used this angle, again and again.
Is your strategy to, every month, announce the new businesses to whom you’ve sold services or goods? The first time you do this is the best chance you’ll have at gaining media attention. Every press release after that is beating a dead horse, in the eyes of the media. Reserve this angle for a truly noteworthy client, or present your new client information in a unique way. It’s easy for the media to spot a template press release which will quickly get you tossed in the “no” file.
It got stuck in spam.
There are major benefits to using an email platform like Mail Chimp or Constant Contact to send out your press releases. However, they can increase your chances of getting you sent to a spam folder. I’ve had my own clients’ emails skip my inbox and head straight for the spam folder, even after I marked previous messages from the same sender as “not spam.” The bottom line is to track your analytics, as these email platforms allow you to do. If it seems like a low percentage of contacts are opening your email, it may be due to their spam filters.
It was poorly written.
Another hard truth is that your press release may been poorly written to a point that your media contacts couldn’t see the value in the information you were sharing. I again reference the best practices of press releases to ensure you have the greatest advantage of getting picked up. You need to write to the media’s preference, not your own. Learn to embrace AP style!
You relied solely on a “Wire” for distribution.
You are likely familiar with PR wire services such as PRWeb, PR Newswire, and Business Wire. I have yet to have a client truly benefit from any pick-ups received from such services. I believe the value lies in personal contact, not some syndication service. Even if you’re hitting a list of several hundred media contacts, you are far more able to personalize your messaging and track their engagement from traditional email. Don’t waste your time or money!
You gave up too soon.
Finally, and most importantly, you may have just given up too soon. I have yet to receive a single complaint from a member of the media for sending out the same press release twice, each with a unique headline. Sometimes you hit them on a busy news day when they just don’t have the capacity to cover your story. A few days later might be the perfect timing for when they need a story like yours. Try and try and again – but two times is the perfect number. Anything more than that could work against you.
Most importantly, don’t drive yourself crazy over-analyzing the reasons your press release may have been overlooked – and don’t stop trying! Tomorrow is another news day.
Can you empathize with this experience? Join in the conversation by leaving a comment.
5 thoughts on “Why Didn’t My Press Release Get Picked Up?”
Hi Stephanie, great post. My focus is commercial real estate only, is this directed to ALL business types or is there a different set of rules for commercial real estate or 100% commercial real estate focused publications? I am asking because everybody has similar news. New deals, new clients, new hires, etc. How do the publications limit the volume? If they get 100 new hires, do they limit it to 10 new hires per publication, etc.
Great questions! This was written non industry specific, but you are right that different industries will have unique challenges and advantages to getting press for their business. You are right that commercial real estate can be especially tough since everyone is issuing PRs for every new deal. The sheer volume will put you at a disadvantage of getting lost in the “noise.” For CRE, I recommend (and have had much success) forming a personal relationship with the reporter at any publication who covers the real estate beat (i.e. reach out via email, attend events they attend, visit them during their “open pitch” hours, if they have those). Rather than hitting them with a generic press release, I then hit them with a personalized pitch for a feature story. This has helped me to get reoccurring guest columns in highly respected publications for clients. Best of all, they often let us write our own story and come back every time they need some new content. That just might be a good topic to expand upon in the future. Hope this offers some insight!