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Why many media releases miss their mark

Having recently left a role where I was bombarded with over 200 emails a day, many of them media releases, I have some views on what makes a media release a success or an abject failure. These views are in no particular order, nor is this list exhaustive…that would go against my one-page rule!

Shoddy and careless.

First of all, if you’re going to the trouble of sending me a release, at least spell my name correctly. Anything with my name misspelt e.g. Solbander, Folvander (or my favourite Juan Solandra) will be deleted faster than a parliamentarian heading to Canberra airport on a Thursday afternoon. And if the release is littered with spelling and grammatical errors it will also most likely be dismissed. The bottom line is this – if you want your release to make it past first base, the basics must be right. One august medical society addressed their hard copy monthly publication to a program director from 17 years ago – I never opened it once in 15 years – it went straight into the bin.

Whoops – wrong target.

If you represent an up and coming Aussie vegan-straight-edge-hip-hop artist and would like to arrange an interview and have their latest song added to the playlist, don’t send your pitch it to a commercial news-talk station. Many media releases are so poorly targeted you’d think the sender was imitating a blindfolded dart-player. Do your research and make sure the client you represent has some chance of being considered by the target media.

No follow-up…

So, you’ve got a red-hot story with awesome talent and you believe it would be perfect content for the media outlets you’ve sent it to?! Well, one call could make all the difference. Given the vast numbers of emails to which I was subjected, I found it easy to skip one, delete one inadvertently or miss altogether. On numerous occasions in my past life, one call from a PR type has resulted in me reconsidering or at least glancing at the release and giving it the consideration the sender intended. If you believe in the story you’re selling, make the effort to follow up – you may just get a result.

It’s flood-time…

Don’t engulf my inbox with 10 consecutive generically addressed emails at the same time every day. One very well-known major media company does this and it’s annoying. On a positive note, it does make it easy to delete them all in one clean block!

What? He’s only available at ## o’clock?!

Unless you have Donald Trump on offer, don’t pitch interviews only available in the middle of the night or impose some equally unreasonable conditions. The media is just not going to be able to run with these type of requests meaning you or your client misses out.

#TMI – Too much information

Most journalists, producers or presenters (particularly the good ones) are under the pump. They’re on deadline, the show is about to start or they’re busily writing a desk-thumping editorial to kick off their program. Don’t send an email that takes 10 minutes to read and has multiple attachments and photos. If you can’t pitch your story in one page, you’re not doing it right!

And on that note, I’ll take my own advice and shut-up.

John Solvander is the Director of Media Engagement at Media Stable and recently a former radio Program Director.

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