An editor’s life is extremely hectic, particularly on technical trade magazines, which typically lack the huge editorial teams afforded by daily newspapers and popular consumer magazines. Editors receive dozens if not hundreds of press releases every day (depending on the size of the sector), so making the process as convenient as possible is a shrewd marketing tactic that can play a significant part in successful coverage.
The first thing an editor sees is the email title or subject line. This needs to be both enticing and relevant to the publication. If it’s not relevant or if it’s ambiguous – or if it simply says ‘Press Release’ (more common than you might think) – then the chances are that it might get overlooked or deleted.
If you’ve done your job on the subject line and the editor decides to open your mail, then make sure that the press release is quickly revealed in the body of the message – asking time-pressured editors to open an attachment can, simply, be a step too far. And, rather than simply state the obvious, such as “please find our latest press release below for your kind consideration”, why not take the opportunity to bullet point a few key facts about the release early on, and add a thumbnail picture so the editor can quickly understand what you’re trying to tell them.
Indeed, pictures are more important than you might think, especially for tech journalists who are tasked with making their outlets look attractive to the reader despite the large volume of dull, unimaginative pictures they receive from companies and their tech pr agencies. But don’t attach your hi-res image to your mail (filling an editor’s inbox with large files is a sure fire way to deletion). Provide a link through to a site where they can download the picture if – and only if – they like it.
Hopefully you’ve already read the blog posts How to write a technical press release and downloaded the template, and you know how to write a good press release headline, but we can’t emphasise enough the need to keep it simple. Fancy fonts, complex in-page formatting and over-elaborate headers/footers are of no consequence to editors. The facts alone will take precedence, while cumbersome styling will only serve to irritate and slow down the editing process.
Finally, don’t forget the contact details: names of spokespeople, phone numbers, email addresses and web addresses are essential to ensure any follow-up questions or interviews are expedited with maximum convenience.
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And you don’t have to take our word for it. Caroline Hayes, a leading editor in the electronics industry, also has some wise words when it comes to the subject of getting the most from your press releases in her excellent Blog, The Attention-Seekers’ Guide to a High Tech Journalist’s Mind, Part I