A friendly representative of a public relations firm once asked me why his press release had not been considered for publication – and what in particular we do and don’t like to see in a story pitched by email.
Seven hours later, he was deaf in one ear and considering running away to the circus where the word ‘pet hate’ does not apply because they are largely animal free.
As someone who receives more emails containing nonsense in one hour than the Duchess of Cambridge will get offered free baby clothes in her second right royal pregnancy, I had a little to say on the matter. So..
As I hover my mouse over the delete button, please note my well-intended guide.
1. Do your research. Lancaster is not and will never be in the north east or near Wales. We don’t care if you are Australian.
2. Do your research. My name is not nor will ever be ‘Mr Editor’
3. Do not start with phrase ‘Gone are the days...’
4. Your client’s product event is not unique, unlikely to be pioneeering, definitely not state-of-the-art and if it’s a pioneering state of the artmulti-agency initiative, will never see the light of day. All of these phrases are banned in all good newsrooms.
5. Do your OWN research. Copy and pasting an old article from our archive, then resending it with the name of your product added is not clever, it is stealing.
6. We spend fractions of seconds checking out your email – if the point of the story is in the last paragraph, it will never see the light of day.
7. Blatant promotion will be spiked. Want an advert? Pay for it.
8. Get a real, honest human being with a name and face in your story and you are on to a winner. Unless they are from Surrey or a generic celebrity.
9. Politicians welcoming stuff is boring and generic and otherwise known as ‘bandwagon jumping’. Make a point, make it well and explain how it will impact real people right here.
10. Attach the release and pictures. Asking us to request them is like offering us free doughnuts, if we will pick them up from a ship off the coast of Wales. We will ignore.
11. Journalists are real people and not stupid. If you are nice to us we will probably be nice back. Though possibly not on deadline.
12. If you follow up your press release with a phone call and we don’t have it, we may not admit it but we spiked it.
13. Do not ring to reminisce about your days in journalism, You sold out to the dark side and we haven’t forgiven you yet.
14. Sticking the name of our local area into a generic article is pointless. Again, not stupid.
15. Manners cost nothing.
16. If you are not sure if it newsworthy, ask us.
17. We hate PDFs.
18. We like free doughnuts but may spike your press release anyway.
Hope this helps. Nicola