Carolyn Barry covers all things digital as the online editor of Australian Geographic. Her work has appeared across newspapers and magazines in the US, including the Denver Post, National Geographic News, Natural Solutions magazine and Science News. Since 2005, she has taken a keen interest in all things digital, upskilling and keeping on top of emerging online trends and technologies.
So if you have a Technology Startup that you want to get MEDIA COVERAGE for today, you want to get brutual honest feedback from Carolyn on how to attract the interest of online editors who get hundreds of press releases every day.
Before you pitch your business to Carolyn at Pitch to Media, here are her suggestions to get you started on preparing a great press release:
Q1: What makes you take notice of a good media release?
I prefer to receive email press releases, so a catchy, but short email subject will pique my interest. As I’m looking for news angles, if something is written in a news headline style, with a clear angle, then I can make a quick judgement about its relevance and potential use. As my time is tight (whose isn’t?!), I quickly skim emails, so will only spend a couple of seconds to decide if it’s worth opening the email.
Q2: How would you like Small Businesses to write a press release?
The press releases I find are most effective in terms of the chances of their being of use are the ones written like a news story, but that are still pretty brief – the equivalent of one printed A4 page or less. If I’m interested, then I will follow up. Contact details for the main person to interview is great. Ane related images are great, as long as they’re sent only in the small size, or via a link to see images; otherwise it clogs up the inbox.
Q3: During your time as journalist, what is the best press pitch you have seen?
I’ve seen hundreds in my time, so can’t think of one that stands out above all others. But as I mentioned before, the ones that stand out for me are the ones related to the type of content I produce for the website, and which are portrayed in a newsy way – ones that help me immediately see a good angle.
Q4: What is your pet hate about people submitting press releases?
There’s a few pet hates!
- Press releases that are too long
- Releases that sent to me that are clearly not relevant (being put on a list for women’s beauty products, when the content and focus of Australian Geographic is clearly not related to that!)
- Releases that oversells its message, or misrepresents the message. If the release makes big claims in the heading that don’t deliver on the content, then I feel I’ve wasted my time opening the email.
- Releases that have big attachments or large images (small images, or links to an index page are good, but large files clog the inbox). This is more about the behaviour related to the release, but it’s quite irritating when a PR person calls to ask if I received a press release. If I find something interesting, then I’ll take action.
Q5: What’s your TOP 3 tips for small businesses looking to get media coverage for their business through your media outlet?
1. Develop a good media list. Target specific media rather than doing a general blast. If you’re aiming for newspapers/mass media, still think about what sections your news could fit into. Is it lifestyle or travel? Is it science or finance? You’re wasting your time by just sending to anyone working at a newspaper or magazine, as the journalists will just send it straight to the trash if it’s not relevant – and they may even identify your stuff as spam, which means they’ll never open subsequent releases.
2. Do try to develop a more personal relationship with journalists of your optimal target media. I’m much more likely to read and consider a press release if I know the person sending it – whether that’s from a previous famil or event, etc
3. Write the press release in a succinct, headline-grabbing (though not sensationalised) newsy style, rather than fluffy, promotional language.
Q6: How can people follow you?
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