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Should you use media releases?

By Kim Harrison,

Consultant, Author and Principal of

Many PR practitioners use media releases automatically for almost all news coverage they try to originate. Apart from anything else, it gives them something tangible to show management and to store in the media section of their website. And they can always send the release to prnewswire to distribute for them to hundreds of news outlets including Internet news sites.

But some of the best media specialists don’t use media releases much. In fact, some PR professionals avoid media releases altogether. Feisty New York practitioner, BL Ochman, says “press releases are a waste of time.” A 20-year media relations veteran in one of the world’s toughest PR environments, she hasn’t sent out a traditional media release for 10 years. She sends pitch letters instead, presumably by email and fax and courier.

Ochman’s advice is to begin with your reason for writing; don’t hide it several paragraphs into the letter. Simply say, “I’m writing to you to suggest a story about…” or “I’d like to recommend an interview with…” Then explain your premise in no more than two sentences. Explain why your client or CEO is a good person to interview, why your idea is relevant to current events, why it would be of interest to a wide cross-section of the media outlet’s audience, etc.

Ochman says that timing is vital. Your chances improve when you say, “This is a hot topic and I have a great source.” Your pitch only stands to become an article if it is likely to make a lot of people stop and read or listen. Don’t use hype; media can smell it instantly and will discard your efforts without going any further. List the topics your client or executive/expert can address, in bullet form.

And, finally, restrict your pitch to 350 words max., ie one side of paper. As Mark Twain said, “If I had more time I would have written less.” Tighten up your draft. Edit it hard. And edit again. Look at every word. If you interest the reporter with your first, concise contact, it is likely they will ask you for further background information. Then you can send them lots, but only then.
- via BL Ochman at

About the Author

Kim Harrison is a recognized authority in the public relations field. His website,, provides a wealth of informative articles and resources on public relations techniques and management.


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