What I learnt at Maximising The Media
Last Wednesday night I went along to Cloudland to the Networx event Maximising The Media.
I wanted to find out a couple of things:
- Do journalists ever actually use press release submission sites?
- What amount of news stories in these particular journalists’ publications or broadcasts come from press releases?
- Is writing and sending a press release every time something notable happens in your company a good idea?
- What separates successful press releases from unsuccessful ones?
Happily, all my questions (and more) were answered by the panel of four journalists who included:
- Chris Hague, Breakfast Producer, 97.3FM
- Cayla Dengate, Features Editor, mX Brisbane
- Catherine Noble, Editor, City News, Quest Community Newspapers
- Conal Hanna, Managing Editor, brisbanetimes.com.au
Preceding the panel discussion, guests were treated to a performance by Jay Jay, a local illusionist adept at stealing watches, swallowing balloons and coughing up cards.
Next came the talk. Here’s a summary of the main things I took from the night:
Journalists are too busy to go looking for press releases on submission sites.
Despite what I’ve read on many a marketing blog, even if they need a source for an incomplete story, they won’t look on these things. In fact, none of the journalists on the panel had ever sought out a press release from such a site.
Press releases are still hugely important.
Both Cayla Dengate (mX) and Catherine Noble (City News, Quest) said a great deal of their content came from press releases. Chris Hague and Conal Hanna said less of theirs did, but the general consensus was that press releases are still hugely important in maximising the media.
Don’t send press releases unless there’s something in it for that publication’s readership.
Journalists are time starved. That’s no secret. And according to the journalists on the panel, if you bombard them with press releases that aren’t specifically valuable to their readers you can expect to be unsuccessful. What they did say, was that a follow-up call after you’ve sent a press release can be really valuable. It draws attention to the email you’ve sent and separates it from the hundreds of others flooding their inbox.
Also, the panel stressed the importance of having your hook in the first sentence. If the first sentence doesn’t grab them, you’ve lost your chance.
Send your press release to every relevant person in the organisation.
Something that surprised me was that the journalists on the panel unanimously agreed that sending a press release to the generic news email, the editor AND as many different journalists as you can increases your chances of getting a look in. I would have thought they’d see it as a hassle, but their reasoning is that it’s more likely to be noticed. It’s something I’ve often wondered about so it’s good to know.
Men without their shirts on will almost guarantee coverage in mX and City News.
According to these journalists (with the exception of Conal Hanna), sex sells. They revealed that men with their shirts off or scantly clad women help a company’s media presence a lot.
That, and free stuff.
Overall it was a great night, I learnt a lot about a certain section of the media and how that relates to marketing and business. But I still can’t figure out how Jay Jay swallowed that balloon….I didn’t hear it ‘pop’ during the discussions.