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How to Be a Journalist's Dream

Have you ever sent a great news story to the media which just hasn’t been picked up? Do you have no idea why? Do you think journalists just don’t care?

The truth is that journalists get 100s of emails every single day and many, many press releases – it would be impossible for them to read them all. 

Consider how many do you get? What makes you open one and not another? 

If you’re doing your own PR for your small business or you are a marketing manager trying to get coverage for your employer, here are my top tips for boosting your chances of getting great coverage by becoming a journalist’s dream:

  • Stand out subject line: If you want your release to be read, you need to grab the journalist’s attention and make sure they open your email. This starts with creating a compelling subject header that summarises what your story is about. 
  • Don’t bury your top line: Most journalists will just scan a release – they don’t have the time to read every release in its entirety. So don’t make the mistake of burying the most interesting part somewhere in the middle of the copy (commonly known as the top line). Make sure it’s in the very first line under your header so your reader understands the news angle.
  • Forget pdfs (unless asked for them): Never send news releases as pdfs or documents with embedded logos and images. They are difficult and time consuming to unpick. A freelancer or journalist who is pressed for time will just ignore your release if you make things complicated for them by adding in unnecessary steps. I’m sorry, it’s fact.
  • Be helpful: Help them find case studies, even when you are not the right fit. This is how you become memorable. They will see you as a provider of stories.
  • Picture perfect: Always have a good up to date, colour, landscape image to accompany your press release in decent resolution, 1MB minimum in Jpeg format is most commonly preferred. Landscape photos fit pages better and are easier to crop. Landscape can become portrait far easier than the other way round.  
  • Do your research: It helps if you do a bit of research on the journalists you intend to send the release to, so that you’re confident they’ll be interested. For example, it’s a waste of everyone’s time if you send a story about a new tech product to a politics reporter, it’s almost guaranteed to be deleted. So do the most simple thing first; research. 

With a long career in journalism and television, Fiona Scott knows what a story should look like and who might be interested in it. Although she has her own PR agency, she's still a working journalist today.

Fiona Scott Media Consultancy Swindon

Scott Media

Scott Media is run by a UK-based journalist with more than 20 years' experience in the media - print, radio and television.

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