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Ten email PR mistakes to avoid when contacting the press

October 6, 2011

At Bytestart, we receive around 100 emails each day from PR agencies and small business owners trying to promote their services. 95% of them go in the junk box within seconds.

In this brief article, we look at ten things small business people should avoid doing when contacting the press via email.

1. Relevance

Above all, if you are looking to promote your product or service, make sure you send any news releases to the right people. Find out which publications are relevant within your industry, and don’t waste your time mass emailing your news without doing your research first.

2. Do you have a story?

Make sure your story is compelling. You may be over the moon that your company has won an award from a local (quite possibly corrupt) trade organisation, but why would anyone else care? You must make sure that you have a real story to stand of chance of publishers taking an interest.

3. Attachments

Don’t include them. The best news releases are a few hundred words long, and are easy to digest. Try to avoid attachments, especially photographs of dull looking executives within your company – they take forever to download and are almost always irrelevant.

4. No response?

Don’t always expect a reply. Most publications receive a constant stream of email requests, so don’t expect a reply unless your story has past the initial hurdle and has not been trashed within seconds of receipt.

5. Pestering

Some PR people, or business owners will send a duplicate email if the original has not been replied to within a few hours. This practice will guarantee that your story will not be covered by the publication concerned.

6. Spelling

It goes without saying that poor spelling and grammatical errors will not do your cause any good at all.

7. Formatting

At Bytestart, we often receive dreadfully formatted HTML emails, or text emails containing multiple fonts and colours. The best releases use standard font throughout, and are broken down into easy to digest chunks.

8. Subject Line

Obviously, this is the first thing a publisher will see when your email arrives. Make sure you spend time creating a punchy sentence – something eye catching, and relevant.

9. Quid Pro Quo

Often we receive emails which more or less demand that we publicise an “excellent” service or product. The publisher only benefits if they have a good story to report on in return for providing publicity. You might consider offering to write some tips, or providing answers to readers’ questions in return for mentioning your service. As in life, don’t expect to get something for nothing.

10. In Summary

if you want to get noticed, make sure you write a relevant, engaging news release. Make sure that your story is of genuine interest to people outside of the organisation it promotes. Format and word check the release before sending it to a carefully vetted list of relevant recipients.