Getting your hand written press release printed in the press could be a tedious process, which all of us experience almost every other day at work. A few months back I was attending a seminar where we were being addressed by David Parkin, who as everyone in the PR industry in UK knows, is the Business Editor of the YorkshirePost since August 2000. It was interesting to see David Parkin give tips, on what he was looking for and expecting from PR professionals and how we could help him and ourselves.
To begin with, there was the most common problem and complaint of most journalists regarding calls made to them. David stressed on this point conveying his disapproval of this habit of PR professionals and insisting that he does not like being called and asked “Did you use it?” I have written about this before and I try to restrain myself from making persistent calls and only call the national journalist, if and when there is an important and worthwhile press release.
However, even before making a call or sending a press release to David Parkin, we should ‘Know’ him, or what I refer to as, establish a pseudo relationship with him. We should do our homework and this homework is not a once in a while assignment, it is a daily routine and should eventually become a part of your PR career and your daily work life. Read his articles and get to know his writing style, also figure out what he likes to cover and what he doesn’t cover. This will give you an edge over hundreds of other PR professionals, who are also trying to get their article printed in the Business Yorkshire post. On the contrary, what happens if you don’t do your homework? Then you “Insult” the journalist, and as we all know PR professionals don’t insult, instead we build relationships and not doing your homework will end up in insulting the journalist.
David personally likes to write good stories, now you might ask what is a good story? As David says “It is ‘People,’ not machines and not stats. Remember when you are writing a press release for David, you need to pass the Pub question as he laughingly stated, which is that after work if he says to his friends/colleagues, “ I have been writing this story and the reply is “that’s interesting” we are doomed. The point that David is trying to make here is that, when you send him a piece of writing, think from a normal person’s (or lay man’s point of view) view and think what he would think while reading that article. Give it an angle from an audience’s point of view rather than that of customers, stakeholders and companies.
I know that in many cases, your target audience might be stakeholders and companies, but think of it that once your article is published, even if it has an angle which is not entirely addressing the company or stakeholders, it is still addressing them in some way or the other.
Moving on to writing styles, David likes the Inverted Pyramid style and says usually he only gets the time to take a look at the Subject, so make your Subject interesting and appealing enough to catch the eye of a journalist, as that is your first step towards enticing him to read your email. Furthermore, in the body of your article David stresses that don’t have technical jargon and never use the word “Solutions,” David never uses that word and doesn’t like it.Lastly,
David says, “Yorkshire Likes Pictures,” it is a business section, but “We don’t have to make it boring, we can make it interesting.” All of us know that a Picture is worth a 1000 words, but in a newspaper it literally is worth that much, as it takes a space of 1000 or more words and just has 20 words underneath it. Pictures save you from writing 1000 creative words as well. Remember the picture should be “Eye Catching and attention grabbing.”