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You wanna get your news on the front page? Not gonna happen ... do's and don't of sending press releases
NORWAY — You have an event coming up and you want to get it in the paper. It's your job, as marketing or PR person of your company to make sure you get as much exposure as possible. You are one of hundreds attempting to do the same thing ... at the same time.
This newspaper gets approximately 300 emails every day sent by a variety of folks from local organizations to auto-send updates and "canned" copy from places world-wide.
We have to wade through it all, quickly, deciding what is legitimate and what is "junk mail."
No easy task. (In between all that we are answering the phone and attempting to write stories!)
So here are some do's and don'ts for submitting a press release that will help your news travel the bumpy road to publication:
- do not send multiple emails for one event. Put press release, photo and everything else in one email. With 300 emails a day, you can guarantee that your multiple emails will not come in consecutively. Consequently, they will rarely get matched up without an inordinate amount of time spent on our part and room for egregious error.
- do not send posters. For one thing, we can't always open them. For another, it is your job to write up press releases not ours. Our job is to write news stories. By sending us posters you expect us to take the time to pull the information and put into paragraph form. Not going to happen. No time.
- do not edit your photos. We often get tiny little photos that will not blow up large enough to print. Send us unedited photos.
- do not join two photos together – we won't use them.
- do not superimpose writing on top of photos – we won't run it.
- do not send us professional publicity shots – we won't use it.
- do not send photos of objects – they won't get in.
- do not send things on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday for Thursday's paper – they won't get in.
- do not ask us to let you know if we got your email. We don't have time to let everyone know.
- do not call us to ask if we got your email.
- do not call on Tuesday at all. You will get voicemail. We are on deadline. (This does not apply to breaking news or return calls.)
- do not write in the first person.
- do not use last year's press release for this year's event. We guarantee you will send us something with a wrong date.
- do not embed photos in Word docs or emails. Attach separately to email.
- do not send photos as anythng but JPEGs.
- do not send blurry photos. We want our paper to look crisp and fresh which can't happen with blurry photos.
- do not send photos of people's backs.
- do not put 'thank-you's' in press releases. They won't be printed. They belong in letters to the editor.
- do not send letters to the editor and ask that we not use your name. We do not publish anonymous letters.
- do not send multiple photos with obituaries, we will only publish one and it will be cropped to a head shot.
- do not send your press release, obituary, letter, etc. until you are sure it is correct. As soon as we receive it we process it and send it down the pipeline for typesetting. We can't get it back. If we get another one with "ignore the last one" or "please delete the last one," or "corrected" we can not delete it -- it has gone! Nor can we guarantee which one will end up in the paper.
- label each photo with a name that matches the press release. Especially obituaries. John Smith's obit is accompanied by a photo labeled Bubba ... it will never get matched up three days later. Label the photo John Smith! We pull photos from emails and put them in a folder for the issue they are to go in. Imagine our conundrum when we go to get a photo for the chicken dinner and are faced with a list of:
mom and susie (obit photo ... whose? who knows?)
- pay attention to word limits such as those for obituaries and letters to the editor. We will cut your submission. You won't like it.
- make sure you include who, what, where and when. You would be amazed how many press releases we get that don't say where the event is.
- be succint. Lengthy press releases that include everything but the kitchen sink will not run. Short and to the point — that way everyone's news gets in.
- understand that if you send something that has already happened it will get in line behind things that are yet to come.
- make sure photos are active and have a human (or animal) in them. We do not run inanimate objects.
- make sure you make the deadline – Friday, 2 p.m. – to ensure that your news will get in.
- spell check your press release before you send it.
- send press releases as Word attachments (.doc) or in the body of the email. We cannot open any other kind.
- send photos as JPEGs only.
- make sure you put your town of residence under your name in your letter to the editor.
- make sure you include contact information every time you send a press release. Yes, we may know you but that doesn't mean we remember your number!
While this is meant to be a bit tongue in cheek and humorous, the fact of the matter is – every single point is real. So help us help you, by adhering to the aforementioned rules of thumb. Thanks!