Will a reporter open your e-mail?

This morning the Business Editor of the Yorkshire Post told me that he gets more than 160 e-mails a day. His inbox is not unusual. Some journalists get as many as 300 e-mails, mostly press releases, every day. Even the most diligent reporters don’t have time to carefully consider each and every press release they receive, so which ones languish unopened in their inboxes for days? Even worse, which ones get trashed without being read?

Here are a few tips to help your press release get the attention it deserves.

E-mails that only have the words ‘press release’ in the subject line get pushed to the bottom of the pile, as do e-mails with lots of attachments – a BBC friend told me that she recently received a press release with 16 attachments.

The e-mails with titles that clearly state what they are about get opened first, especially if they sound newsworthy. For example, an e-mail entitled, “Protest march at the Civic Centre at 6pm tonight,” would be read straightaway.

And if, once opened, the email quickly and clearly states the five w’s – what, why, when, where and who – you will have the journalist’s attention. Newspaper and online journalists might be further interested if you also include a professionally shot photograph.

Don’t send out every press release you write to every journalist you’ve ever heard of, instead get to know what will be of interest to whom. Clearly, a weekly local newspaper will want to hear about different things to regional TV news. If you get a reputation for sending out press releases that are not suitable – for example, routinely e-mailing a parish council agenda to national radio – you will struggle to get a journalist’s attention when you do have something newsworthy to talk about

Lastly, don’t forget to add a name and telephone number for the reporter to contact if they need more information, it is amazing how many people forget.

Media Tip: If you want your e-mail to be considered by a journalist ensure its title is informative and newsworthy

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