OK, so you’ve got a great story about your business you want your local media to cover. How do you get their attention?

Just like in fishing, we call it The Hook.

The Hook is an intriguing email subject line/press release headline that makes readers (and editors are readers) want to know more.

Here are some tips for “hooking” an editor with your press release:

Use numbers. I don’t know why; they’re like lists. Editors–and other readers–love ’em.  “Fifty ways to leave your lover.” “Top 12 Films of 2012.” “Five flavorful ways to serve meatloaf.” “Thirty great gifts under $30.” “The 10 worst pick-up lines ever.” Except for the meatloaf one, don’t you want to know more?

Turn conventional wisdom on its head. It’s always interesting when someone goes against the grain. Instantly, observers start to follow that one and ignore the crowd. “Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten” (not college). “Why working out won’t help you lose weight.” (Sorry; I made that up. Last time I got on the scale it still wasn’t true.) “Why raising test scores won’t fix society.”

Do both. Five reasons nuclear weapons can’t keep us safe.” “Three myths about fluoride your dentist doesn’t want you to know.” “Three things your girlfriend wants besides chocolate, flowers, and a ring.”

See the world through an editor’s eyes. That means being sensitive to what’s timely in THEIR world (hint: what holiday is coming up next month?) and tying your news to it in ways that catch their attention. For local business editors: “Why Mother’s Day is a money-maker”; Lifestyle editors: “What NOT to give Mom for Mother’s Day this year,” or “When Mom is gone: How to remember Mom on Mother’s Day.” For Travel or Food editors: “Beyond brunch: 10 memorable places to take Mom on her day.” Politics and foreign policy: What would Mom do? 🙂 (Threw that one in there to see if you’re still reading.)

Mind you: these topics are timely a month in advance for daily or weekly media; monthly media typically want six months’ lead time. That means if you want media to run a story on you before the holiday season, send them your press release six months in advance, using any of the above tips that appeal to you.

Share your success stories! What’s the most effective “hook” you ever used with the media? 

— Leslee Goodman
Alchemy On Demand

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