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How to get published on Bizcommunity and other tales...

One of the things the PR industry does so rarely is actually ask an editor or journalist what they need for their publication. This causes unnecessary miscommunication, bad feeling and the editor to break a nail hitting the delete button more times than is necessary! We decided to compile a rough guide on "Cultural Learnings of for Make Benefit Glorious Industry of Public Relations" (with apologies to Borat and we promise, there's no hairy nude wrestling in this one!).

How not to get published

  • Take a picture of the release with your cellphone and send it as a massive attachment.
  • If the release was previously published in another publication, take a picture of the page it appeared on and send it through. Should the editor enquire about copyright, say, "I'm sure they won't mind."
  • Send through several rough drafts of the release that include place-holders like, "'Blah blah blah,' said MD Whatsisface." When you've sent the final version through, recall it so that you can get client approval before sending it again.
  • Create a fantabulously sensational headline containing juicy tidbits that you won't find anywhere else in the release. If the headline ends up longer than the release you're on the right track...
  • Use many-syllabled adjectives and throw in "the first of its kind in the world" in the first paragraph, or better yet, the headline. End all sentences with at least three exclamation marks!!!
  • Obtain the editor's cell number and put it on speed-dial so that you can quickly call and say that you're thinking of doing a release, have done a release, will be sending a release shortly, have already sent a release did you get it?, have re-sent the release did you get it?, have re-re-sent the release when will it be published? Speed-dial is also great for finding out whether your release has been published without actually having to read the publication.
  • Slag off the media for not responding to invites: if you stopped sending us press releases that have nothing to do with our media subject matter, irrelevant invites, emails asking us when and if and to alert you... when we use your press release (ditto phonecalls) - then we might have a chance to respond to our emails.
  • Send huge pix files that crash the editor's email; apologise when the editor finally sends you a rude email after your third offence, but don't share the info with anyone else in your company, so that it happens again.
  • Send your pix and copy embedded in obscure files and formatted so that no one can read them.
  • PROs who don't deviate from the script: when an editor or journalist calls for contributions or submissions from your clients in various industry sectors for year-end trends pieces, for example, you should eagerly grab at this opportunity with both grubby hands as with a glut of news usually, this could position your client as an expert in their field, open the door to columns, further publication.
  • Be rude to support staff and then sugary sweet to the editor.
  • Take issue on email with something we've written, slagging off our mothers to boot - pick up the phone and deal with the issue directly, if we've made a mistake, we will correct it instantly and try resolve it to the satisfaction of all.
  • Have your irate client leave voicemails on the editor's cellphone that contain so many swear words, a case for defamation should be made and anger the editor's mother, but create good laughs in the newsroom as the voicemails are played for everyone's amusement. Ditto sarky emails, which are printed out and put on the noticeboard.
  • Phone calls from panicked PR's begging to pull releases (and sometimes aaallll the info about their company off the website) because they're about to be sued and their client is about to be fired by the holding company... because they didn't get the client to sign-off!

    The PR industry need to park their ego's and grow up and realise that the media don't not communicate because we don't like you - we have time famine like everyone else and overloaded email inboxes (I know of daily news editors that get 4000 plus emails a day). But... if we know you and you send us great copy, you will always get a response - and an apology if we can't attend your function at the last minute when daily news happenings overtake carefully planned diaries.

    So if you are not getting responses from media you have targeted, maybe you need to ask yourself what you could do better?

    What we cut

    As an aid, here's list of a few adjectives we regularly cut out of press releases - to print out, keep and show your clients at appropriate moments, since they're usually the ones who make you put them in, we know:

    "Fabulous, awesome, leading, world's largest / greatest / leading (says who? Against whose criteria?), delicious, fantastic, "gasping with awe" (really?), anything with an exclamation in it, incredible, never before seen (it probably has), delighted (subjective), acclaimed (again - says who?), key members (open to interpretation), spellbound (nuff said), most coveted accolade... ."

    So how do you get published?

    Apart from the obvious: well written copy targeted to our readership in our industry, humour works as does COMMUNICATION. It may seem obvious, but the two industries which are supposed to be experts at communications: media and PR, communicate very badly with one another. It is always appreciated when PR companies or individual account managers drop us a line and introduce themselves and their new clients or update their client portfolio.

    How you word your emails: please don't address me as John, Piet, Sipho, Helen, "Dear Lady Journalist" (really!) etc, when my name is Louise. It indicates that you are either ill informed, unprepared, or you've spammed me and the rest of the few thousand journalists in the media sector with your press release.

    A personal greeting shows you've taken the trouble to target us and some thought has gone into your submission.

    And listen to an editor when they tell you they always welcome exclusive, expert opinion on issues in the industry - we keep banging on about things that should be obvious to experienced PR practitioners, but somehow isn't taken advantage of for their clients.

    Humour also works.

    We loved this humorous submission to our new appointments section from Atmosphere communications for their client, complete with pic of the lovable robot:

    Name of newest employee: TwoFour
    Position filled: South Africa's hottest Search Engine
    TwoFour - a walking, talking and somewhat cheeky real-life search engine - has just been employed by to fill the position of hottest Search Engine in South Africa. Attached a head and shoulder photo of this hot little number...

    Giving us a laugh will definitely increase your chances of getting published as we like to amuse our readers too!

    *Compiled by editorial and support staffers.

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