Commentary & Analysis
The Press Release Pyramid Scheme
by Mark Bonacorso,
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: August 23, 2005
by Mark Bonacorso, Hayzlett & Associates Fact: Publications are notoriously understaffed--editors, reporters and journalists have little time to deal with the hundreds of press releases they receive via email. August 23, 2005 -- While I’ve touched upon this part of this subject before (see The Art and Science of PR, ODJ, February 30, 2005), a couple of recent “ventings” (actually emails from some of the trade media) prompted me to focus on a couple of key areas when working with the media. Ironically, while the complaints came from two different journalists, the topics where the same and went something like this. “Why doesn’t this %$&*!@ PR person simply cut and paste the body of the press release into the email, provide some type of introductory paragraph or some kind of clue to what the ‘news’ is about.” In addition, both of them went on to complain about having to not only open the email, but being expected to open the attachment (generally a Word document or worse, a PDF) containing the seemingly important press release. Fact: Publications are notoriously understaffed--editors, reporters and journalists have little time to deal with the hundreds of press releases they receive via email. That means if you want to get their attention with your press release you have to make it easy for them. The only attachment you should ever consider sending is a digital image relevant to the press release at reasonable screen resolution size. In fact, one journalist actually confided in me by saying that he was so bombarded by press releases sent via email that taking the extra time to open an email attachment was simply an extra step he didn’t have time for. Taking all that into consideration, I personally use the following method to distribute press releases using a simple “pyramid” technique of communication. I’m not saying this is the right or only way to distribute press releases via email, but it works for me and I don’t get complaints. At the top level of the pyramid, or point is the subject line. I usually use something like “News Release: Title or Headline of the Release.” This is then followed by a personalized salutation, “Dear Noel,” for example--I don’t consider this a "must have" but it’s nice, makes recipient feels unique, and it can also prevent your email from getting caught up in a spam filter. Next, I include a brief introduction of why this press release is important, kind of like a who, what, where, and why. I then include my contact information and finally the entire body of the actual press release, sans Word or PDF attachment. In addition to this, I add a disclaimer that stating that if they want to be removed from the distribution, simply email me back. As the diagram illustrates, you start at the top of the pyramid with very little information and as you move down, you provide increasingly more detail. This allows the reader to quickly scan the subjects in the email inbox, select the ones that interest them, quickly read the introduction and then decide if they need to read the entire body of the release. In addition, if they want to use any or all of the release, they can simply cut and paste it from the email into whatever software application they use. Note on Attachments Email attachments are highly suspect as carriers of viruses, Trojans or spyware. Corporate firewalls or enterprise antivirus applications can strip away attachments or simply block the email entirely. The only attachment you should ever consider sending is a digital image relevant to the press release at reasonable screen resolution size. You should also have a larger, version available upon request in case the publication wants to include use it in print. What this means for you This approach works for press releases for companies of all sizes and helps get them read by an editor who just may use the information in a way that helps promote your business, or your customer's. Which is whole the idea behind sending out a press release.