New clients often look at PR as writing an article to promote their latest ‘news’ and then wonder why their articles don’t get published.
Sit in the editor’s shoes. Regardless of what type of publication they produce, they need to deliver articles that will interest their readers. The editor knows their readership and chooses items that will tick their boxes.
The chances are that, unless you happen to be a professional PR executive, your focus is likely to be on you and your company and that often results in an article that is almost a sales pitch. Most editors can spot this pretty quickly and your article gets ‘spiked’ (newspeak for ‘thrown out’).
So how do you get a better chance of getting your articles published?
- Know your target audience – and what their biggest challenges are.
- Know what they read. You may have to do some research, but it will be worth it.
- Know what the editor wants. This may mean having a chat with the editor. Clearly if you’re aiming to get into the national dailies, this is tough, but consider that more of the right people for you are probably reading their industry journals with more attention than the national dailies and you’ll find you are more likely to be able to talk to the editor who makes the decisions.
- Always deliver value. The article must have something that will be of value to the reader – whether that is new information, advice, or a different viewpoint. Whatever you write keep the thought ‘how will this help the reader’ front and centre while you construct your article.
- Stick to the facts and keep it reasonably short. A good press release is no more than a page and a half of double spaced text. If the editor finds it interesting and wants more information they’ll get in touch (your phone and email contact is on the footer, isn’t it?)
- If an editor asks for an article, rather than a news story, they will probably give you a word count – this is the maximum number of words, not a minimum! Stick to it or you may find your key point is edited out!
- If you submit images along with your press release or article, add the captions for them to the foot of your press release/article. Name them so it’s clear what they are. Try to avoid ‘firing squads’ (a line-up of people with someone holding a certificate, cheque or trophy), they’re not very interesting for the reader. Action shots are much better.
If you really want to get into print, get into the habit of thinking about what would make a good story for your audience and create regular submissions.