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by Nicole Gauger

Distributing press releases – Less is more

One of our tasks as a communications agency is to maintain the information portal at, which is all about communicating product information internationally. Here, readers will find news, background information and case studies from the fields of technical documentation, product information management and internationalisation.
In fact, it should be clear as soon as the user accesses the homepage what content has a place on our portal and what does not. This makes it all the most astonishing that our editorial mailbox frequently receives press releases announcing new online banking solutions, offering water condensers for the office or changes of management in tour companies.

Once registered, the tide of irrelevant press releases keeps rising

When we then look at who sends us these press releases, we often find that they are PR agencies that have perhaps one customer in “our” field. This leads us to the conclusion that these agencies have a single pool of all editorial contact addresses which they diligently use whenever they send out press releases.

This kind of approach is counterproductive for two reasons: first, editors hate receiving messages that don’t actually have anything to do with their specific field. Second, there is a significant danger of editors simply deleting all emails from this sender – and as a result, potentially missing messages that really would be relevant to them. We don’t need to tell you what the effect is on the image of a PR company that sprays press releases out indiscriminately like a garden hose.

Selective submissions increase acceptance rates

Our recommendation is therefore to classify editors’ contact details by their subject areas and interests, and to use these categories when deciding who to send a press release. It’s not about having just the one distribution list. For example, an announcement about a new product will interest a different group of editors compared with news about changes in management. For businesses pursuing the goal of unlocking new markets, still other media outlets may be relevant. There is no question that some editors belong in your core distribution list and should be copied on all of your communications. There is nothing to say that you can’t make a note of this in your contact database.
In short, don’t irritate editors by sending them every single press release you put out. Instead, make an effort to be selective! Your contacts will thank you for it.

Other recommendations

To close out, here are a few more tips. These should all really be self-evident, but our day-to-day experience shows otherwise:

  • When sending out press releases, use solutions that make sure editors can’t see the entire list of recipients! Some senders still copy every address into the “To” or “CC” fields in their email software.
  • Due to the risk posed by viruses, some editors will never open Word files. Some publishers even block emails containing Word attachments. Offer a press release in PDF format instead, with the text directly visible in the email body as well for easier copying and pasting.
  • After sending out a press release, don’t start calling round editors to ask if they’ve received your message and when it will be published! Editors receive countless emails every day. If every press office or PR agency followed up by phone, editors would have no time to do their actual work.
  • Last but not least, don’t forget to put an “unsubscribe” button in your emails. In spite of all your careful research, it’s still important for editors to be able to choose not to receive any further press releases from you!

In other words, sending press releases is about valuing editors’ time. It’s not a way to dump irrelevant messages: it should be respected as a task that carries a measure of responsibility.

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