Local freelance journalist Sarah Rigg presented at SPARK East Community Media Labs in Ypsilanti on Halloween. She gave key tips to attending writers about how to get press releases published.
YPSILANTI, Mich. – Nobody wants to spend time writing press releases, only to never have them published. Sarah Rigg has made her living as a freelance journalist for many years and completely understands how difficult it can be to get writing work noticed and published. Sarah gave a presentation on Wednesday, October 31, 2012 at the Community Media Labs at SPARK East in Ypsilanti, MI. She shared writing industry insider tips about how to get the editor to notice your press release for the right reasons.
This was a free event, and what made this even more valuable was that Sarah Rigg teamed with Michelle Rogers, Managing Editor of Heritage Newspapers. Attendees got the perspective from a journalist and an editor, who makes the final decision on what gets published.
The first part of the presentation focused on how to write a press release that is worthy of being published. Sarah suggested that writers focus on answering the basic who, what, where, when, and why. She also reminded the attending journalists they should not bury the lede; the lede should be included in the first paragraph, if not also within the title or the subheading. Sarah emphasized that a press release must contain news, which is something that many submitting authors overlook.
In the second part of the session, Sarah Rigg gave tips about ways to submit a press release. She mentioned that it is important to find the format the editor prefers to receive a press release. Giving a clear warning, she expresses, “I can’t stand when people send me pdf’s.” Some editors prefer getting the press release as a MS Word file document, but with concerns about getting viruses, other editors prefer a person to include the press release text within the email body.
Sarah suggested sending pictures as a separately attached file. “When someone embeds a picture into a document, it screams (that the person submitting is an) amateur,” she explains. She gave further guidance that if the publication is online, submit a high resolution picture; otherwise, submit a low resolution picture image.
Both Sarah and Michelle Rogers combined to emphasize how important it is to understand the printing cycle. Too often, they warned, people will submit a press release after it is too late to include the story, even if the topic is good and the press release is well-written. Both of them suggested that you take time to learn the cycle for each publication. Even without having a relationship with the editor, often a writer can call the front desk and ask about the submission deadline. An interesting alternative is to contact the advertising department, which might not share the exact time limitation, but it should be close.
Michelle warned, “As an editor, I get over 300 emails each day.” It is important to write a compelling title within the email subject line. Each of these emails compete for her attention, and it is impossible for her to read all of those emails. An intriguing subject line will improve a writer’s chances of getting noticed and published.
There were many other suggestions given, and attending writers had an opportunity to learn how to write a press release that has a chance of getting published and ways to submit it properly.
The Community Media Lab is located on 215 W. Michigan Avenue, Ypsilanti, Michigan and is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The lab is open to the public and has onsite staff to provide one-on-one computer-related help. It offers free use of their computers to apply lessons learned from the help. The lab also hosts events, similar to the features press release event that Sarah Rigg gave. To learn more about the Community Media Lab in Ypsilanti or any upcoming events, you can call (267) 229-6037 or visit http://CommunityMediaLab.WordPress.com.
About Sarah Rigg: Sarah Rigg writes and edits in southeast Michigan. She was on the education beat at a community newspaper for five years and has more than a decade of experience as a journalist. At age six, wrote her memoirs, called "Pickle Pass," and has not stopped since. She has won awards for her fiction and non-fiction writing, both creative writing and journalism.
If you’d like more information about this topic or to schedule an interview with Chris Wechner, please call Chris at (248) 905-1290 or e-mail Chris at Chris@TheUltimateAnalyst.com.