Don’t rely on the “send” button in your email distribution system, as the means to getting your press release converted into a media story.
The press release should only be sent after you have done the real work of putting together fact sheets, developed talking points, having the client approve a few opinion-editorials and communicated the significance of the issue with a reporter or select number of them. This doesn’t mean you have to conduct a press tour before issuing the release, but you need to pick up the phone and communicate your issue.
Identify key reporters (those who cover this particular issue or individuals you have built a relationship with) and give them a run down.
If the issue requires some background and/or a technical explanation, make the client or expert available to answer questions. This exercise will help you evaluate the situation and identify a missing component in your narrative. Keep the conversations “off the record” or “on-background” and embargo any documents until the release is sent (see Establishing Ground Rules with a Reporter).
By laying the groundwork first, a reporter is able to understand the issue and this takes away the guessing, as they scan through the 200+ daily press releases living in their inbox (see When to Send Out A Press Release).
Previewing the issue can also bring you back to earth.
At times, we get so caught up with the issue and client, that we become blinded as to whether the story is news worthy or get lost in the weeds that we fail to see the issue from the audience’s point of view. The last thing we want to do is come off as a conspiracy theorist.
Reporters will listen to your pitch, but also expect them to ask tough questions and verbalize the holes in your story. At the end your client will be better for it.
It is only after you go through this exercise, that you should feel confident in pressing the “send” button.