Guides to writing press releases run aplenty (there are currently almost 10 related guides on this website alone) but rarely do articles touch on how to issue a press release using what has very quickly become the "go to" communications tool for both agency pros and home office heroes alike: email messaging. Editors like email press releases. The reason they like email press releases is that they can quickly review the news that a particular source has to offer without appearing impatient, rude, pithy or short to that source. And a well composed email press release offers information that the editor's readers will find of immense value, much more quickly than a phone call. Thanks to vastly improved email messaging technologies -- including terrific, easy to use professional email software that allows for group-sent email to read like a personalized message -- editors are receiving more and more press releases via email, and, it is said, you now have exactly six seconds or less to catch an editor's attention. So here are some action tips on making the best use of your press release's six seconds.
Match your news with the right media
No matter the format you're submitting in, make sure the news you have and the media you are sending to is a match. Press releases presenting details that are not even close to what the editor's readers want to see crowds inboxes and -- more importantly -- brands the source as irrelevant to the publication. Even if the editor cannot use the information right away, they may still take a second to whitelist an email sender that continually submits relevant news. On the same note, they can blacklist senders of emails that are spammy looking, or too frequently loaded with irrelevant rubbish.
Subject line is precious space
A subject line that communicates your news on its own is great use of your six seconds. Make it clear and succinct, using the fewest characters as possible. Try not to fill this precious space with anything that's redundant to the rest of the message, i.e. don't fill it with the company name if the company name is used in the From space; don't write the headline in the subject line if it's the first line of the body of the email, etc. And spell check it the old fashioned way, for cryin out loud.
Attach or paste the release?
I've seen advice regarding attaching or pasting releases in email go both ways, but you should go ahead and include the entire body of the press release in your email. Here's why: Evil phishing spammers have now evolved away from Ethiopian bank scams and convincing Paypal account messages to other email frauds, like health messages and news alerts with links. For security reasons, editors rarely click unsolicited links or attachments, unless they are from a source they readily recognize.
Another reason to paste the release right in the email message is because of the risk that your attachment doesn't open, or your link has a typo in it and doesn't work. In either case, the editor does not have your news in hand, and your six seconds is up. Next release, please.
Take care above the fold
Take care of the message above the fold, defined here as the portion of the email message that is visible in a typical 3-to-4-inch preview pane. If you haven't started your news pitch in the Subject line, this is another excellent area to start your six second news pitch.
Your headline should be in this area, as well as the contacts for the news source. Other elements that should be found in this area if at all possible include the subhead or intro, date of release, embargo information and lead-in paragraph.
As a PR professional, you are doing excellent work and you are well known in your community, but your credentials, logo, catchphrase, link to your website, quote from your favorite pioneer or picture of your dog should not be in the area above the fold.
Identify and avoid spam traits
Lastly, spam characteristics lambasted by anti-spam organizations everywhere should also be avoided by the email press release. These traits include messages using extra large, colored text sizes; clients' extra large logos embedded at the top; unnecessary attachments; an extra large agency logo or picture of you embedded inappropriately in the message (again: you rock, agreed, but you are not the news... the client's message is).