Your Friend The Editor
by Alfred Lautenslager

I had the pleasure of moderating a panel discussion on The Insider Secrets to Publicity. There were many questions asked but a lot of the questions centered around, how do to contact the editor/reporter, what are editors interested in printing and what is the best way to communicate the information to editors. The answers from the three panelists had some very common threads that answer these questions.

Communications to editors/reporters vary with the person. It is truly their personal choice.

Some of the older, experienced editors still like to sort through the faxes in their "in-box", regardless of how busy they are or how technologically savvy they want to be. Some of the younger reporters and newer publications are always asking for communication by email. Editors and reporters get hundreds of communications a day. Making the communication stand out is key and assured that it won't go into the delete file or the waste bin. Editors, expect email communication and faxes so don't think of it as Spam or unsolicited faxes.

Some hometown publication editors like to get phone calls. This is especially true if they have the liberty of assigning a reporter to a story. Editors like two weeks lead time on features for dailies and more if it is something like a special edition or monthly publication.

They do not like calls the day something is happening that you want published. Also don't call at the end of the day. Editors and reporters are "on deadline" at this time of day and are scrambling to finalize their stories. Call in the morning when things are more relaxed.

Lead time consideration is desired.

As far as what editors and reporters want information on and what they will publish, this too varies. It depends primarily on the type of publication and obviously the type of readership the publication is designed for. Daily, local newspapers are truly looking for items of local interest, national stories with a local angle, timely topics within the readership community, and the like. National or regional publications are reporting on what's hot, the trends, and items affecting the lives of those reading the publication.

One editor wisely suggested, "first put yourself in the readers shoes and think of what you would like to read about and secondly put yourself in my shoes and think what could be reported on out of all the stories I get that would appeal to our readers."

Summarize your information and be prepared to tell the editor/reporter why your story is important or of interest to their readers. Don't overwhelm them with too many details.

News must be new and stories must have a newsworthy angle to it, otherwise it wont get a.) noticed or b.) published.

The preferred vehicle of communication is the press release. The editors on our panel stated that 99 times out of 100, press releases are edited and shortened. Because of this they ask that press releases be short and to the point. Rambling and unnecessary details will get noticed and remembered in a negative way. Short is good for press releases. This is one reason why the press release is preferred. When asked their opinion on the submission of feature articles, all unanimously stated that these are not desired. That's what editors and reporters do is write stories about news. They usually don't want anyone else doing it or they are not needed. If for some chance an article is all they have, it will get rewritten and probably shortened anyway.

As we have said in many other PR articles and cases, editors do not like promotion. They like news. They see right through a PR spin to make promotion news. If you get one past them they remember. After all they have the control over what goes into the publication.

Establishing as positive a relationship as possible is advantageous for anyone desiring PR and using the media to tell their story.

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