Get noticed

You’ve probably heard a multitude of suggestions regarding how you should send your news releases to the media:

“Print it on bright pink paper. That’ll get their attention.”

“Send it in an 81/2 x 11 envelope. It’s more noticeable than the standard business size.”

“Include a gift or promotional item. They’ll owe it to you to print your news.”

From the horse’s mouth, so to speak, let me tell you how we, at SBN in Columbus, at least, really want to receive releases.

1. Don’t fret so much about presentation. Sure, bright pink is, coincidentally, my favorite color, and an odd-shaped box filled with goodies and your news release will pique my curiosity, but that has nothing to do with whether I’ll print it.

We read all of the news releases we receive, whether they’re dressed to kill or show up in Plain Jane attire. You can send it by fax, e-mail or U.S. mail. In fact, one of my few big wishes for news release senders is that they’d staple the pages together. We get hundreds of pieces of paper through our mail and fax each week, some of which inadvertently lose their way from the rest of their own pack.

2. What really matters about your release is the content. Get to the point. Don’t bury your most exciting, most timely announcement by starting your news release with a history of your company.

If you want to include background information, attach it separately. It could even save us a phone call or help us notice another story idea about you.

3. Lose the jargon. You’re an expert in your field, but others might not understand your lingo. An oft-used piece of advice: Tell it like you would to your mother.

4. Give perspective: How does this achievement compare to past achievements? Where does it place you nationally? Regionally? How do you stack up in your industry? Why or how did you do it?

5. Be precise. Don’t assume we already know something about you, like your title or the location of your company. Don’t forget to give dates, locations and deadlines where appropriate. And for heaven’s sake, check spelling and titles. Your mistakes could end up in print.

6. If you include a picture, label it on the back. It’s best to put the person’s name, title, company and the date on a label and affix that to the back of the picture so you don’t run the risk of ink seeping through and leaving a blotch on someone’s nose.

A paper clip could mar a photo the same way. If you do clip the photo to the news release, be sure the news release is between the clip and the photo to protect it. We prefer color pictures, but we also can use black and white. Polaroids never reproduce well.

Don’t be offended if you don’t hear anything from us about your news until it’s printed. There’s no way humanly possible we could respond to each and every release we receive.

A final word of advice: Give us a name and phone number or e-mail address to contact. Don’t let us miss out on your big story just because we couldn’t get in touch with you for more information.