Welcome to our blog, where we comment on a wide variety of topics. Some of them relate to our line of work. Others are more far ranging.
By Jim Rhodes
My marine marketing column “Pet Peeves of the Press” apparently struck a responsive chord, since I received a number of attaboy e-mails from marine journalists and editors. My article was derived largely from a paper called “The Care and Feeding of the Press,” which was published by the Internet Press Guild. You can download the entire 20+ page document, which is loaded with solid, practical advice, at www.netpress.org/careandfeeding.html.
I’d like to continue along the same lines with some advice on PR e-mail etiquette.
For most of us, e-mail has become at the same time a blessing and a curse. It’s a great way to communicate information quickly and inexpensively to a large group of recipients. On the other hand, spam (unwanted e-mails from the electronic equivalent of telemarketers) has reached epidemic proportions. Editors and reporters get hundreds of press releases by e-mail, and most of them review their e-mails with one finger on the delete key. So how do you make sure your e-mail press releases break through the clutter?
The Internet Press Guild offers some dos and don’ts on communicating with the press by e-mail. I have also added a few of my own.
1. Do use meaningful subject headers. Avoid personal greetings like “Hello Jim,” or “Hi there.” Likewise, a subject line that simply says “Press Release” doesn’t convey much information. Better to say something like “Press Release from XYZ Company –Introducing New Line of Widgets for Boating Industry.”
2. Don’t use subject headers that look like spam. That means anything with repeated exclamation points, dollar signs or all caps. Many spam filters will automatically route it to the trash bin.
3. Don’t use Hotmail, Juno, Yahoo! or AOL. It looks unprofessional and seems to say, “Hey, we’re too small and poor to have a real business e-mail account.”
4. Don’t send attachments. Put the text of your press release into the body of your e-mail as an ASCII file. If there’s a photograph to go with the press release, you can insert a “thumbnail” of the photo at the bottom of the release, with a note explaining how to order a high-resolution image for publication. Remember, attachments can carry viruses. You won’t make friends with the press by overloading their mailboxes with unsolicited 3MB image files. (Believe me, I learned this lesson from bitter experience, and I won’t do it again. Honestly.)
5. Do use a signature file with full contact information. Don’t attach a v-card (see #4 above).
6. Don’t send a press release to your entire media list with the entire recipient list visible in the header.Learn to use the “BCC” address line.
7. Do copy yourself on your outgoing e-mails for quality-control purposes. Send a copy to your home e-mail address. It’s a good way to check and see how it’s coming through on the other end.
8. Do honor requests to be removed from your e-mail list.
9. Do answer all legitimate e-mail queries from the press. Even if you don’t know the answer to the question, or if you are unable to divulge the information, have the courtesy of sending a reply and saying so. We try to respond to all e-mails every day, even if it’s just a matter of saying, “We received your query, and we’ll respond by Friday with an answer.”