How To Get Your Story on


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I’ve worked on the other side trying to get my stories published by the media for years. I know it can be a bit of a slog and is sometimes very unrewarding. So dear PR people of the world, this is for you. I’ve compiled a list of the biggest annoyances that we have with emails and pitches from PR people. Essentially this is a list of best practices to help you get your stories published on and on other blogs. By having empathy for the writers of the world you can find more success in PR. Want to get published? Well, first of all, make it easy.

Things PR people do that we hate:

Not being able to copy paste from PDF’s. If you want to give us information and want us to use this information in your article then its not a good idea to not let me copy-paste this information. This means that I have to retype the entire thing, costing me time while all the while I’m annoyed with you.

Instead: Want us to take over information from you? Make it easy for us to copy that information.

Issues with copy-paste. in general, Less annoying is difficult to copy paste documents or documents that have a lot of markup in them such as ™, italics and nonstandard letters. This is annoying because we have to edit it all out.

Specs in an image. Only convey text in an image if it is in text elsewhere or we’ll have to type it out manually. I know this sounds minor, but with over 200 posts a month this kind of thing will get real old fast.

Unclear Quotes. For my clarity, I usually like to take all of the quotes I find and make sure they belong to the right person. Often it is confusing as to whom said what or where the person saying the quote is employed. If there is ambiguity, I don’t include the quote. Easiest would be Jane Saunders, XCo’s VP of M&A, “blah blah blah.”

Huge images. I’m glad that you took the time to invest in photography. I’m less enthused that you sent me an 8-megabyte picture. I have to convert this image to make it smaller. We’re a large news blog so that means that this trivial task is something we could be doing over 7000 times a year. Generally, a 1024 Px by 683 px images work best for us. These tend to be 200 kb or so. We have a maximum file size of 500 Mb and 2000 Px so that would suck. You’d save us time if you did us a solid and gave us pictures that we could use.

Small images are also a problem. We regularly get tiny images or images where clearly the person has sent us the thumbnail and not the photos. This costs us time because we have to email back and forth getting better images. Most of the time if I see this I’ll drop the article and pick another one.

Low-Quality images. I get it, you have your iPhone and want to snap some pictures. But, even then please look at the light and make sure that the image is clear. As a nearby millennial to make the picture. We regularly get stuff that you yourself wouldn’t put on your Facebook let alone your insta.

Pick my brain. Lately, people want to hang out, shoot the breeze, pick my brain, show me stuff, love what I do. Look, guys, we’re all adults, and we all realize that flattery indeed works. But, lets just lay out what you want and what I can get out of it.

Disingenuous. Often someone is dishonest or is telling an outright lie. If that happens once, then I’ll probably never trust Xcorp again. I have little information about and from the people in my inbox. I know only what you say. If in those few words there are untruths then this will weigh heavily against you. If Xcorp is a PR agency, I’m likely to place little trust in them ever again. Oh, those guys said that they were the first printer to print X, the fastest and the biggest. None of those things was true, so this is probably meh as well.

Vague. Press releases have their syntax and language. It is like a Potemkin village in ten pitchy pithy paragraphs. You have to sit there and decode them. Doing this takes time and fills you with vague terms. A press release about a straight-up fraud often looks remarkably similar to one that is on the up and up. The press release format is a good one for obfuscating facts, not a good one for finding them. Putting verifiable information in the bullets at the top could motivate me to continue the slog.

Boring quotes. Look we understand that your CEO can’t say anything controversial. But, perhaps someone else could? Or you could make her say something more interesting at least? All the quotes are the same, and they’re boring. CEO Mary Jones stated, “OMG we’re so happy, ecstatic everyone at Xcorp is just hopping on a cloud this is the bestest thing ever.” Instead maybe have her deliver a fact or interesting statement?

First in the World. We can’t all be first in the world. Many products are me too’s, and others are evolutionary. If this is the case, then try to make a case for this to be more a more usable thing or attempt to collect data about uptime, reliability or find outside sources to prove that this not so first in the world thing is still important because it might be the one that works.

An analog 2D printer.

An analogue 2D printer.

Things PR people do that we love:

Specs? Especially in 3D printing a lot of our time consists of listing specs. People usually have this information sprinkled throughout their article. If you made specs information easy to copy paste then we’d be more likely to put it in and it would be easier for us.

Get a lightbox. A lightbox will only cost you like $50 and make a significant improvement to your image quality. We regularly get great images from a lightbox and an intern and crappy ones from big companies.

Image format. WordPress lets us use PNG, JPG, JPEG and GIF. This is fine because these are hugely popular formats worldwide. Any others we’d have to convert. So please use these.

DSC_0022. Giving your files genuinely descriptive file names helps us a lot. It tells us what the images are of and lets us identify which ones we use. The alternative has us hunting through lists of images with some of them being ambiguous. It also helps you because sometimes we make mistakes because we don’t know what an image is of.

Who’s who in the images? Also in the file names tell us who is who. Always from left to right Jane_smith_John_Jones_Opening_Xcom_Building_2018.jpg This keeps us from having to go to Linkedin to try to find out what Jane Smith looks like.

Explicitly stating that we can use images. Minor detail but it is good if somewhere in your email you tell us that we are allowed to use these images.Cut to the chase. In two lines explain the news item and why it is interesting. Use clear formatting to illustrate key points and key facts.

USPs. Many products have no USPs. If you have them, it’s good to point them out clearly and not write the same woolly paragraphs like everyone else.

Flaunt the facts. If you have facts or at least data, then please don’t hide it somewhere but make it easy to see and clear to see.

Be who you are. If you’re a two person startup then act like one, don’t pretend to be some megacorp. We love that you’re cute. If you’re a large corporation, please don’t try to be folksy and cute. If you work for a person who works for a person who works for a person who has a jet, please act professionally.

Actual news. If you have actual news, then a press release is often an ineffective way to communicate it. Instead: a few bullets of verifiable info or new information and two real quotes would do wonders for us.

Give us an exclusive. This still has a high chance of success today, and everyone inherently loves to be first.

Give us exclusive images. Your chances of getting published would increase if you gave us unique images.

Give us exclusive quotes or information. You can also give the exclusive to someone else. If we were given a follow-up interview, new information or new images, then we’d be more likely to publish a story.

Give us at least three images. Any less and we’re not likely to publish.

Hero, scale, detail, in use. In an ideal world, you’d give us a hero shot, a scale photo showing us how large your thing is, a detail shot showing you the quality of your thing and a shot of the thing being used. The hero shot lets us admire and desire your thing. The scale shot shows us your thing in the universe, next to a hand, a person, a banana, a coke can, a door, anything that is a proxy for being a universal indicator for size. By fitting it into the universe, a person can imagine holding it and having it. The detail shot shows us the capability of your thing; it somehow substantiates the others. The in-use shot lets us consider how we would use your thing in our daily lives. As a marketer, this stuff works. As a writer, this helps us showcase a lot of your product. As a PR person, this is the method by which I’m sure to want to place your story even if it is fluff.

Show me you care. Don’t misspell things, don’t be sloppy with attachments, don’t be cavalier in your emails, don’t lie, do be helpful. If you don’t care about your product why should I?

The best tip I can give you is, to be honest, direct and to make it easy for us to publish you. A lot of people focus on flattery and silly words but almost no one if making it easy for us to publish their work.

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