With email being a fast and cost-effective means of written communication, these days press (or media) releases are mostly submitted via email.
But like an unsolicited email, an unsolicited press release is spam, unless it meets the requirements of anti-spamming laws which include an existing relationship with the publication or its editor or you have made previous queries about sending a press release either by phone or using the publication’s online contact form.
In our 15 years in internet publishing, or eight years since we started The Filipino Australian, unsolicited emails have been a nightmare to us. On a daily basis, our mailbox is inundated with hundreds of emails which include unqualified spams and, in a number of instances, irrelevant press releases.
As a passive defence, we regularly change our contact email address to avoid being pestered with junk mails. Our online “Contact Us” pages are also installed with scripts to automatically direct messages sent from our websites’ pages to our relevant departments while at the same time hiding our email addresses so that these cannot be harvested by web bots. We also periodically issue and print “spam watching” advisories and other important notices.
For those who are sending, or planning to send, press releases via emails, here are some suggestions:
1. Unless you have an existing relationship with the publication or its editor, contact the editor of the publication before sending a press release. It is preferred that you make your queries over the phone or in writing. When making queries, ask the editor if you can also send photos and their photo specifications.
Should you use the publication’s online contact form, do not make the mistake of using the online contact form only to ask what the email address of the editor is. Although you may find that situation unusual, we do receive queries sent from our online contact form asking what our email address is.
2. Respect the online privacy of editors and journalists.
(a) If you’re planning to send your press release to several publications (assuming you have already established a relationship with them), do not make the mistake of sending your release in bulk, meaning sending to multiple recipients where the recipients email addresses are shown in the To: or Cc: fields. This practice is a breach of privacy and a sure-fire to attracting spammers to grab your mail list. (Learn more.)
(b) Similarly, do not make the mistake of “blind copy-ing” (Bcc) your release to several persons or publications.
Sending a press release using a Bcc technique is a tell-tale sign of spamming. Many editors, this writer included, frown upon Bcc emails. If you cannot be bothered to spend a few minutes to address your release to a specific person or publication, why should you expect the editor or reporter to spend time to your release other than deleting it?
3. In the subject heading, be concise.
5. In the body of your email:
(a) Personalise your message. Address your message to the journalist and their publication directly. If you have already built up a personal relationship with the journalist, you can be less formal but be polite. State the reason for the email in your opening lines.
(b) Give a brief description of the topic of the press release. But, do not go into details. One or two lines would be enough.
(c) Be clear on what you’d like the journalist or editor to do with your press release. Be clear if they can rewrite your release. Make suggestion that they can use it in an upcoming feature.
(d) Make it a point to copy your press release into the main body of your email. It is best to assume that journalists do not open email attachments. (See item 4 above, Attachments.)
We hope these pointers help.