By Janet Attard
Using electronic mail to send press releases to editors can save you considerable time and money. One click and your release can be on its way to dozens of editors. But sending a release doesn't equate with getting it published - or even read! One click of the mouse is all it takes for each editor or writer on your mailing list to delete the release, often without opening your email at all.
What can you do to give your email press releases a better chance of getting read? Here, based on blunders I see frequently in press releases emailed to me, are six electronic press release sins to avoid.
- Dull Subject Lines
Remember, the subject line on an email press release works like the headline on a printed release. It is a hook that will entice an editor to read the release - or to delete it unread. Send me an email that has a subject line that reads "for immediate release" and I'll yawn and hit the delete key unless I'm really short on material or just plain bored. Just as bad: a press release that shows up with a subject line that reads (no subject). Hey, if you can't be bothered to figure out what's important about your news release, why should I bother to open the mail and read it?
- Unbelievable subject lines
Your subject line must grab the editor's attention, but only for the right reasons. If the subject line is unbelievable or has a double meaning, it will doom your release to electronic never-never land, or worse, make it the laughing stock of the editorial department. A good example is a release that hit my email box recently. It had a subject line that read:
FAX MACHINES SUFFER A MORTAL BLOW
What was being promoted was an alternative to traditional fax transmissions. An interesting subject, to be sure. But all this release did was to conjure up images of irate editors smashing their fax machines with sledge hammers to stop them from spitting out mindless press releases and ads. So the headline got copied into my all-time funnies file, and the release got moved into Outlook's Deleted Items folder.
- CC Follies
Nothing is more annoying to a busy editor than opening an email letter and discovering you have to scroll down through dozens of names to get to the body of the letter. Nothing, that is, other than being reminded that all the publications that compete with you are being sent the same press release. To avoid annoying writers and editors learn how to use the blind copy function in email. You wouldn't include a CC list in press releases you print and mail out. Don't do it in email, either.
- $$$$!!!!! Madness
Repeating dollar signs and exclamation marks in your subject line or text makes your press release look like an opportunity scam. If you want editors to take your news release seriously, ditch that type of pitch and replace the hype with persuasive facts.
- Press Release Spam
While it may not cost you any extra money to send press releases to media that never runs stories on the topic of your release, it could cost you an email account. If the release looks like an ad or gets sent to hundreds of editors and writers who never cover the topic you're promoting, some of them may complain to your email provider. If enough do, the provider may close down your email account without any warning.
- Fatal Attachments
The fastest way to make your press release hit the recycle bin is to send it through as attached mail. Attachments take more time to read since they require the editor to save the file to disk, switch to a word processing program and hunt for the directory the file was saved into before they can see what the release is all about. What's worse is that attachments can carry viruses, password sniffers or trojans. Editors and writers usually will not open such mail from strangers. Often, they won't open them from people they know, either.
The Key to Success
Once you've eliminated these fatal flaws, your email press releases will at least stand a chance of getting read. If you target your press releases to editors and writers who regularly write about the subject of your release, and write the releases with the media's audience in mind, you are much more likely to get the publicity you seek.
Janet Attard is the author of Business Know-How: An Operational Guide for Home-Based and Micro-Sized Businesses With Limited Budgets. Published in October, 1999, by Adams Media, Inc., the book contains tips, hints, and ideas to start, manage and grow your business. It is available in bookstores throughout the country, in online bookstores and on the BusinessKnowHow.com(sm) web site (http://www.businessknowhow.com). For additional information contact Janet by email at email@example.com.