Engaging the Media: Use Email Effectively

Business woman sending email by using digital tablet

(DGIwire) — Human communication is in dire straits. Texting, commenting on someone’s Facebook status and “liking” Instagram posts is not truly communicating—it’s more like an electronic game of tag. When was the last time you spoke to someone on the phone or sent an email that resembled an actual letter instead of a collection of fragments? For that matter, when did you send someone an actual letter, whether for business or personal purposes? That long, eh?

Instant communication might make keeping in touch easier, but the quality of communication is in steep decline. It may be acceptable to text your friends and family using poor grammar, abbreviations and smiley faces, but it’s imperative to leave these shortcuts behind when communicating professionally.

Nowhere is this more important than in the business email or emailed press release. For any company trying to make a name for themselves in the media and expand or improve their public image, press releases are key—if they’re done correctly. An all-star press release can attract the attention of top media contacts and land you the featured interview of your dreams. However, if your press release is improperly formatted, riddled with typos and written in informal language, you can bet your email will find its way into the virtual trash faster than you can type “ttyl.”

Dian Griesel, Ph.D., the author of ENGAGE: Smart Ideas to Get More Media Coverage, Build Your Influence & Grow Your Business, and President of Dian Griesel International, (DGI), an award-winning media relations and news placement agency based in New York City, has a team assembled that knows exactly how to perfect that press release to get the attention you deserve.

The visibility experts at DGI suggest the following:

  • Put your “hook” in the headline. If your hook isn’t apparent, you’re likely not getting your main point across effectively. Find a way to make your news stand out with a creative, fresh and well-expressed angle from the moment it hits a reporter’s or producer’s inbox.
  • Don’t use attachments. Your release is more likely to be read if you put the text in the body of the email than if you make the recipient first download a document. Many people are reluctant to open attachments from senders they don’t know, and it adds more work on their end.
  • Lose the fluff. Reporters know baloney when they see it. No matter what product or service you’re offering, your press release should be professional and always answer the basic Ws: What? Who? Where? When? Why?
  • Spell check and then check again. Spell check will only detect misspelled words. Sometimes typos form correct words but might have vastly different meanings than the ones you intended to write. Always reread your emails before pressing “send.” Having a second person read it over before you send it can be useful as well.
  • Personalize. It is very easy to mislabel emails. If you’re pitching to The New York Times, make sure you don’t start out by writing, “Dear New York Post.” This error will understandably be offensive to the recipient. Further, if you want the coveted big-time coverage, personalize to each individual reporter that might really be interested in your story. If you want news coverage, take the time to learn what each reporter is covering.   A jewelry reporter likely has no interest in reading about that biotech company you also represent. So, be thoughtful and careful and personal.

You’ve got five seconds to catch a reporter’s attention. Most reporters and this includes bloggers who are reporters, too, receive dozens if not hundreds of press releases every day: There is no room for error. Brainstorm a creative, concise and professional way to make your company stand out and I guarantee you’ll catch someone’s attention.