Tips for getting your press releases picked up by UK’s Press Association journalists
Recently I came across an interesting little write-up that was shared within PR Newswire internal resource centre (which we called HUB) and think that the article contains useful tips that would probably be of interest to many of us, especially if you have PR and corporate communications responsibilities for the UK market. Even if you have nothing to do with this European market, the tips that are shared in the article could very well apply to your region.
Andrew Woodall who is the author of this write up is the Manager of editorial and multimedia news release teams at PR Newswire EMEA and India, based in London. He spoke to UK Press Association (PA) editor Jonathan Grun recently and asked for a few tips for getting press releases picked up by PA journalists. These pearls of wisdom are now shared with people who are looking for UK media exposure.
Never miss a chance to tell your own story.
If your company or industry is in the headlines, journalists will need to hear your take on it as soon as possible. Make sure someone in authority is available to answer calls from journalists, and issue a press release saying everything you want the media and the public to hear. Unless you do this ASAP, the media will be forced to draw their own conclusions, or speak to those who don’t have your company’s best interests at heart.
Is your story a ‘Guess what?’ or a ‘So what?’
Be honest and objective – do you have a reasonable expectation that journalists will want to tell your story? If not, make it so. The important story today is something that hadn’t happened yesterday. So make it clear how your story is changing the status quo of whatever field you work in.
Encourage journalists to contact you for material.
Provide as much follow up information as you can – including how journalists can shoot their own videos and photos, and get further quotes from your company. Every release should link to your website and have full contact details of a named person.
Consider the ‘Sunday for Monday’ submission.
Sunday is by far the quietest day for submissions to the PA, and there can often be a shortage of content and news angles. Issuing a release on a Sunday will give it a chance to get noticed and followed up on. PR Newswire is able to embargo copy sent to the PA. So UK journalists get the story in advance in order to prepare their articles, but the rest of your distribution goes ahead when you are ready for it to be made public.
Patience is a virtue.
Be sympathetic to what else is happening in the news, and be ready to postpone your announcement or repeat it at a later date. Every single PR department and press office should have the news on TV 24 hours a day. If today is the day that a plane has disappeared over the ocean, or the Duchess of Cambridge announces she is pregnant, your story is going nowhere. Tell the world your story next week. If you must announce it today, be patient when following up with journalists, who will be under pressure to work on the big news items.
The UK media process 10,000 images a day.
Are you distributing quality, interesting content? Pictures of celebrities and corporate headshots are everywhere – try and be original! We’ve established that releases with multimedia get more pick-up, but that multimedia has to be interesting in its own right (it might be the only component to get used) and it has to be of sufficient quality to encourage people to use it on their sites and in print.
Jonathan Grun is the PA’s editor and a 35 year veteran. Described by The Guardian as one of “journalism’s nice guys”, Grun is a member of the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers, a 600 year old livery company today involved with the visual and graphic communications industries, and is also a freeman of the City of London. In 2012 Grun became the first person ever to be president of the Society of Editors twice, and next year he will be responsible for PA’s coverage of the general election – the eighth he will have reported on for PA.
At a time when the UK media has been under intense security, under Grun PA’s newsroom has been able to maintain its reputation as a trusted news source for thousands of publications.
As Grun puts it, “Everyone who is anyone takes PA’s news. It is fast, it is fair and it is accurate. We have no political agenda, no social agenda, and absolutely everything we present is sourced. The PA has always strived to maintain the trust invested in it – journalists read a PA story and know that they don’t need to verify it elsewhere.”
By extension, this trust is something that PR Newswire benefits from, and complements. All of our UK wires go directly to PA’s journalists and, of course, we know that the press releases they receive from PR Newswire have been verified for source, content and suitability for consideration for the wire. So, PR Newswire can tell our clients that we are a trusted news provider to PA, who are the most trusted news source for thousands of journalists, bloggers and photo editors throughout the UK and beyond.
“Almost everything about working at PA has changed”, said Grun when I asked him to compare things to when he joined in 1979. “Nowadays, PA is ahead of the curve in becoming a multimedia agency. We have reporters shooting pictures and videos, often on their mobile phones.
“What hasn’t changed, though, is the paramount importance of the story. People love to hear a new story, and they won’t be fooled into believing something is news when it isn’t.”
So, with this in mind, and going back to the tips at the top, when issuing a press release be honest with yourself. Do you have a story? Have you told it in an interesting way? Is now the best time to share it? If you get three yeses, then you’re ready for a UK wire.