It takes more than a solid press release to get your firm’s news published in the business or trade press. It takes patience, doing your homework, developing relationships with the media and building trust for press releases to be published.
That’s according to former journalist and editor Christian Moises, APR, who is now the practice growth specialist for Ericksen Krentel CPAs and Consultants in New Orleans. In an Oct. 30 AAM High! webinar, Moises reflected on his years of weeding through press releases as an editor at New Orleans CityBusiness and as the current editor of AAM’s Growth Strategies quarterly magazine. He’s learned a few things about successful pitches and press releases that are deleted immediately.
How to Get Your Press Release Published
- Learn about the publications you’re targeting. Follow key reporters on social media. Find out what they’re covering and what they’re looking for. Accidentally pitching tax reform information to the lifestyle reporter will get you nowhere fast.
- Get to know key business reporters. Create a personal connection.
- Keep your media contact list up to date. As editor of Growth Strategies, Moises says he still receives multiple pitches a day to have a press release published addressed to his predecessor’s predecessor.
- Monitor your open rates. Moises says he also gets two or three requests to have a press release published a week from the same company. “All of those go straight into the trash can.”
- Become a trusted advisor to the media. “Make your firm a resource for information on relevant topics rather than a warehouse for new-hire press releases,” Moises says.
- Avoid rescheduling or canceling media interviews. “Be on the ready and don’t snub reporter requests.” Ask for their deadlines and beat them. View yourself as a partner with the media to get important information out to the public.
- Create a media policy and provide media training for your partners and staff. “Get them comfortable talking beyond just client work to be a true thought leader and expert in their field.” Consider calling a local reporter or journalism professor and asking them to speak to your firm on media relations.
Imagine going through a stack of resumes to whittle down the pile, Moises suggested. You’d likely toss any resume with a spelling error. Reporters and editors do the same thing with press releases, he said. To avoid that, make sure your press release is perfect. Know AP style – the consistent rules most newspapers and publications use to guide grammar, spelling, punctuation and language use.
ABC’s of Pitching Press Releases
- Accuracy – Media professionals are getting pitches all day long. Don’t give them an excuse to delete yours.
- Brevity – Get your point across quickly. Therefore it’s best to avoid adjectives, and use quotes sparingly, especially ones that say the firm is excited/thrilled/honored/proud to announce XYZ. “We don’t need to hear that you’re excited,” Moises says. “Stop making it about you.”
- Clarity – Ensure the release is easily understandable. Make it about the issue or the problem and direct the individual to the firm for solutions.
Moises also discussed the topics are likely (or unlikely) to grab an editor’s attention. It all goes back to knowing your publications. Some local news outlets will publish just about anything you send. Others are very selective.
Do’s and Don’ts of Press Release Pitches
- Do pitch thought leadership pieces. Be timely and tie pitches to national issues if you can. When Aretha Franklin died last year without a will, for example, Moises was able to promote Ericksen Krentel’s estate planning practice.
- Do pitch opinion pieces, columns, guest commentaries and the like. Columns are not as heavily edited as other pieces, so the firm has more control over the message and is the sole subject of the piece, so the firm isn’t sharing the spotlight with a competitor.
- Don’t pitch awards. “Unless it’s going to help you get business, or help a client do better, keep it to your own newsroom and social media.”
- Don’t pitch every new hire or promotion. Some publications will only run press releases on manager-level employees or higher. If you work for a large firm, do not send one release per person. Avoid using the phrase “XX years of combined experience,” Moises says. “That doesn’t mean anything to anybody.”
- Don’t pitch a topic that’s recently run. Search the media outlet’s website before you pitch. If it doesn’t stand out, it won’t be considered.
The AAM High webinar, “Unlock Your Firm’s Content Potential,” which also includes tips from Abbey Kanellakis and Dana Bottorff, has been recorded. It is available at no cost to AAM members. The cost is $79 for nonmembers.
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