When I tell people I both write media releases for a living, and also teach other people how to write their own, I often run into a little problem.
See, folks sometimes don’t know what a media release actually is.
They confuse a speech, rant, political statement or plea for funds for a genuine media release.
Or, worst release sin of all (often committed in total innocence), they’re trying to float an ad, and dress it up as news.
When I was a reporter for both the Globe and Mail Report on Business and later, the Toronto Star’s Business Today section, my desk was piled high in bogus releases – and they kept on coming. Every. Single. Day.
In today’s newsroom, they clog email inbaskets, but the principle is still the same – too many words, not enough real stories.
Like most other reporters, I’d developed an unerring sense of what made a story, and what was, well, a waste of time.
So, here’s a quick tip before you start to write a release because someone suggested it, or you love your new business idea, and you think you’ll just lob one off toward the local or regional newsrooms to see if something sticks to the wall.
Respect the reporter. Respect their time. Don’t insult their intelligence or try to slip something past them.
It never works.
And if you aren’t sure if you’ve got a newsworthy story to tell, pick up the phone (yes, reporters do still take calls) and ask.
They’ll thank you for it.