Last time I told you to fax your release to a fax machine instead of a person. I told you that there’s a person in the newsroom who will sort your press release and deliver it to the right person. That is, if it ‘makes the cut’.

Let me explain (this may be a stunning eye-opener for most of you).

In most newsrooms there is a low-paid person who has the job of sorting the press releases…and getting rid of most of them. Here’s how the process works.

This $7 an hour person goes to all the fax machines and gathers up the press releases. Let’s say there are 300 of them. He then literally stands over a trash can and starts sorting the releases.

On his first run he will simply glance at each release for less than one second. He’s not reading a single word. He’s simply looking at the format of the release. Does each release look right? If not, it goes straight into the trash. The reasoning is that if you don’t know how to format a press release, you almost certainly won’t know how to do an interview.

After the first run, let’s say he goes from 300 releases down to 180.

He then picks up the 180 and goes through them a second time. This time he simply reads the headline, nothing else. If the headline makes him say ‘Hmmm, I wonder what this is about’ it stays. otherwise, it goes into the trash.

Now he’s down to 95 releases.

He’ll then pick up the 95 and go through them one last time, reading the body copy of the release. He doesn’t particularly care about the topic that’s discussed in the release. He just wants to see if the release keeps his interest. If it does, it stays. If not…well, you know where they go.

Now he’s down to 40 releases. He takes these 40 releases and distributes them to the appropriate reporter.

The numbers I used are just examples to give you an idea of what you’re up against. When you’re writing your releases, always remember the three screenings they’ll go through once they get to the news room. And always remember that many times the person making the decision about whether your release lives or dies is a minimum wage clerk. Make your releases so interesting, so informative that they suck this clerk right in and don’t let him go.

That’s one of the secrets of a great release.

See you next time.

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