Is your news release worth reading? A first impression is a lasting one
The news media receives dozens and dozens of news releases everyday. Faxes are transmitted via computer constantly. All with a fresh piece of bait on a long hook hoping the media will bite. The culture of the media is such that they don't want to be reeled in by anyone, much less a public relations "flack" as we used to call them. It doesn't matter what your relationship is with the media, if you're doing PR or are coming from an advertising agency, the media's skeptical eye is always looking for what's in it for the "pitcher." They can spot a good story from a publicity stunt a mile away.
Having said that, there is plenty more news time these days than there was five years ago. In my study of the television industry, more local news time has been added in the last five years. It's not just noon, 6 and 11 anymore. Morning shows and late afternoon slots are locally produced by news departments. It means big revenue for a station. So there's a need to fill more time.
But you have to remember that you are competing for time and attention. While that may seem daunting, a good assignment editor will take note of the stories that hit just right. The assignment editor works with producers who will bring their own ideas to the mix. What excites one producer may not excite the assignment editor or another producer in the same way. So, do you pitch to the assignment editors or the producers?
My study also concluded it's a good thing to know the producers, but the first line of engagement is the assignment editor. If you are short on paper or you're sending your release by fax, send the release to the AE and massage it through the producers if needed.
To better engage the media, custom releases to individual producers will go a long way to better coverage for your organization. The producer of the morning show, who needs to fill as much as two hours, has a different approach to news coverage than the 6 p.m. producer who puts together a half-hour show.