Pitching a press release (by a freelance writer)
As a freelance writer, there are many projects I write for. From Robotics to Speech and Language Therapy, and from food and health to climate change and coppicing. However, having worked my way up from pot washer to head chef, head waitress and many other food related positions, I am happy to say I am also a freelancer who specialises in food and drink in Cornwall.
Last week was a great week for being a food writing freelancer because I visited loads of places, including Quicke’s farm in Devon. Mary Quicke is one of the most inspirational people I have met. Her face lit up when I asked whether looking after her staff was important to her and she replied that she wanted to give people wings. This is one of the reasons I started working with small businesses. I know the passion that people put in and you’re putting all the effort into creating amazing products, I want other people to know about how great they are.
One of the best ways to do this is by writing press releases and conducting press campaigns and establishing good press relationships. At the start I didn’t understand the importance of this, and cringe-ably used a kind of say and spray technique.
Often blasting news at over 1000 poor journalists and bloggers, I can assure you, does not make you popular.
So before you even send the thing, spend time creating a bespoke list of press contacts. People who are genuinely interested in what you might have to stay. It takes time, but this is the beauty of enlisting an expert press release writer. They’ll know who might publish, and how to get the results you want. Otherwise a good place to start is by finding reporters who have previously written about your subject, and approaching them.
But here’s the secret to that…
Ascertain a budget prior to contacting. Know what your budget is and how much, if any, you’re going to spend on advertising. Many publications will offer you space for advertising. If you aren’t going to consider this, you’d be well advised to make it clear in your pitch.
And the pitch.
That terrifying moment that could make all the difference between your release being read or deleted.
For what it’s worth, there are ways to make the pitch work for you. It’s predominantly dependent on understanding how your news is going to benefit that publication, or even particular journalist. Wherever you can, refer to a related story or angle previously covered, to put your idea into context.
Don’t be afraid to be friendly!
You’re pitching to another human, so write as such. I often report what I can see from my window. I’m sure this isn’t thrilling, but rather it makes the connection of being a real person, experiencing real life. Which is priceless through so much digital, clinical, impersonal fluff.
Don’t use any hyperbole either. Just chat like you would to a friend, outlining why you think the release might be useful to them.
Offer to help if they need anything more, and then sign off.
So ultimately the key is to be personal, be friendly and be helpful. And that’s all. If you’d rather pass it over to someone who’s been there before, give me a call or drop me a line.