This section offers professional PR advice for those of you doing your own
PR and who want to learn more about how PR works. Consider these frequently
asked PR questions!
Remember, you can ask us a question any time and we'll post the answer in
this section or on our blog! Click on '
How does PR work?
PR is the act of getting your new product or announcement into the
hands of journalists and bloggers to write about. Most companies have
"news" to share or can serve as an expert for a journalist to quote. PR
is the act of connecting those influential writers with the companies
How do I contact a journalist directly?
PR is sometimes about selling your story to a journalist. You need to
contact them and pitch them your idea. Most journalists prefer you
email them - and then follow up with a phone call several days or a
week later. For breaking news, phone is the best way to communicate. TV
newsrooms often rely on phone communications as well.
What is a press release?
A press release is a 1-2 page document that is used to inform a
reporter of your company's news. In the past, press relied on the press
release to learn about news. But in today's Internet world, many people
write news releases so they can gain rank on Google and other search
How do I write a good press release
A good press release has a concise, to the point headline. It's
riddled with solid keywords (for SEO purposes). It informs and contains
visuals and pull out quotes. It also has a call to action - leading people
to another website to learn more or buy your product.
How do I make "news"
Most companies and people have great stories to share. To find your
story, think about what makes your company different, unique, or
newsworthy. Watch your local morning TV shows. What kind of guests do
they book? Read your local newspapers and business magazines. What kind
of articles to they accept?
To find YOUR story, think about these things:
Is the way you run your business different from other companies?
Have you created something that is the first of its type?
Are you helping people make or save money?
Is there an angle that suits the economic times?
Have you given an old idea a modern twist?
Is there a green/recycling/organic message?
Can people improve an aspect of their lives by using your products?
Is there an interesting international angle?
Does the founder have an interesting life story?
Are there any celebrities (local or international) involved?
Customers who can share their success stories?
Is your product or service going to improve the lives of children?
Is there an educational angle?
Does your business relate to anything that has been in the news
Who is my target market?
Identifying your target market is crucial to finding success. You want
to know exactly what kind of people will buy your products or use your
services. Are you trying to reach moms of young children, people who
are environmentally conscious, or sporty teenage boys? Once you have
determined your target audience, then ask yourself what magazines do
they read or TV programs do they watch? Are they on parenting websites,
reading fashion magazines, or surfing the web? Knowing how your target
audience consumes media is important to reaching them. A targeted media
list can help you reach and influence those media professionals.
How do I create a targeted media list?
Everyone doing PR needs a great media list. Your media list should
include all of the media you would like to target with your 'news'. We
sometimes call it a pitch list - as it doesn't just have to include
reporters. It can include celebrities, authors, bloggers and other
individuals who influence how your target audience consumes.
Why should I personalize my pitches?
Don't simply email your press release to a reporter and think you're
going to get press. No way! You need to write a personalized pitch to
each reporter you contact. Show you understand their website or
magazine and explain why you're contacting them. Never send bulk emails
to reporters - that is Spam! I've known PR professionals to send their
press releases to hundreds of reporters and get not one bite. Then I've
known really good PR professionals who pitched only three journalists
and got all three interested in doing a story. Personalization is key.
Do I need photographs?
Yes, if you are pitching a product, you will most likely need to
provide a sample and photography. Hire a professional to take pictures
for you. If you are an expert looking to be quoted in the media, you
will need a professional headshot.
Is it okay to send attachments?
Instead of attachments, try to cut and paste text from a Word document
inside of the email. If you are pitching a new product or a person, it
is always good to attach a low-res photo of the product, this way
journalists know what the product you're pitching looks like and how it
Is it okay to send samples of my product to reporters?
The rule is to typically wait until a reporter or bloggers expresses
interest in reviewing your product before sending them a sample. In the
end, getting a sample of your product in the hands of reporters is the
best way to get press - so use your best judgment.
When should I follow up with a reporter?
If you sent your pitch and press release to a reporter and haven't
heard back in a week, it is perfectly okay to follow up with another
email or phone call to check in. Just remember that writers are busy
people - many of them have to write on daily deadlines. Newspaper
reporters should be contacted in the mornings, while a TV producer
might be easier to reach 30 minutes after his show is off the air. The
general rule is to try calling a reporter at different intervals
throughout the day rather than leave a voicemail message. If you still
can't reach a reporter and they don't respond to your follow up
email(s), you may want to try someone else.
Is advertising and editorial connected?
Many people wonder if they place an ad in a magazine if that will help
them get editorial coverage too. Most magazines keep their editorial
and advertising departments separate, however, the two divisions of a
company do talk with one another and exchange information. Never feel
pressured to buy an ad in a magazine in exchange for editorial
coverage. PR is free and should not come at a costs. Oftentimes editors
will pass along pitches to their ad reps - so you may get calls asking
you to advertise in the next issue.
How long will it take before I get coverage?
It often takes a month or longer before you start to see results from
your pitching efforts. Most monthly magazines work 2-3 months in
advance and newspapers can take at least a couple of weeks. Radio and
TV is often more immediate - however it may take time to find a slot
right for you!
What is an editorial calendar?
An editorial calendar is published by the advertising divisions of
magazines. It is basically a calendar of editorial coverage planned for
the year. You can find an editorial calendar on a magazine's website
(check the advertising media kit). For example, a baby magazine may
publish that its June issue will focus on strollers. The ad reps will
try to get stroller manufacturers to advertise in that issue - you will
try to get your stroller featured in that issue!
How do I know what kind of stories reporters are working on?
While you may not know for sure what a reporter is working on, there
are a few clues you can consider when pitching your story. Reporters
write a lot about seasonal trends (spring cleaning) and they try to
localize national stories or trends (Earth Day, oil spill). Also check
out a site called
you can subscribe to a services that tells you what stories reporters
are looking for sources for.
Is it okay to thank a reporter?
Yes, remember to thank any reporter or blogger who gives your product a
mention. These writers work very hard and are always open to hearing
your feedback and appreciation.