With bursting inboxes and massive time constraints, getting a journalist’s attention for your news release can be more than a little difficult.

Even if you think your press release is a good fit for a certain publication you may still be left scratching your head wondering why it didn’t get picked up.

As a former journalist who has only recently turned to PR, I have a few tips that might help your news release find its way into print or online.

Be clear

Before you begin, decide what the most important, newsworthy point is that you want to get across.

While you’re writing it up, it is good to ask yourself what would be most important to the journalist and reader.

As a reporter, it is frustrating to read a press release which has the story buried somewhere in the bottom paragraphs.

If your client is, say, building new offices and taking on a significant amount of staff, present this fact in the opening paragraph.

Burying the actual story below acres of promotional material about how amazing the business is and its entire history might see your email ending up in the delete folder.

Make sure the subject line of the email is short, snappy and makes clear what the press release is about and why it is relevant to that news outlet.

Make sure you have all the information – and it is correct

This goes hand in hand with the first point.

Pre-empt all the possible questions a journalist might have about the press release and make sure that information is included.

Double check for typos and grammatical errors.

Also include full names and job titles of anyone mentioned, be precise with facts, include relevant dates and attach a good quality, hi-res jpeg image (portrait is best) as well as a contact number.

If you do include a picture – make sure you caption it with who is in the picture.

Stay relevant

There is little point in sending over a press release about an event that has already happened some time ago.

If you want coverage for something that is happening, make sure you are emailing it out in plenty of time.

Same goes if you want to pitch on current affairs.

The news cycle moves rapidly.

You’ll be more successful if you pitch a news release based on an article or news event if it has been published/is taking place that day.

If you think you have a great client who can make excellent points on a topical subject make sure they’re available at short notice for interview or a comment piece before pitching to new organisations.

Find the right contact

You have spent time crafting your well-written press release that gets straight to the point and carries all the relevant information – the next bit is critical.

Don’t use the scatter gun approach to sending it off.

Create a list of national, local and trade titles that you think would pick it up and then find the relevant journalist

If you’re unsure of the correct contact, a quick call to the news organisation should help you establish who to send it to.

Research what has been written by the publication before to find out whether your press release would be a good fit.

Follow up – but don’t harass

Journalists get tonnes of PR emails everyday so it is likely that some relevant ones are going to be overlooked.

Give them a call to check they’ve received it and ask whether they will be using it.

Don’t be insincere. If you have never spoken to the journalist before, don’t stalk them on social media and ask them about their dog/children/holiday (yes, this happens).

This might sound obvious but be polite.

I’ve run into a few PRs who can quickly become rude if you’re not planning to use their release.

If they say they won’t be using it, it’s worth finding out why and asking if it could be better tailored to that publication or if there is a more suitable person to forward it to.