In my 17 years as a newspaper reporter, I can not even count how many times an editor had me go through stacks of press releases that were faxed to us, to see if there was anything worth printing. Usually the answer was no.

Obviously every single person who sends a press release hopes their press release is worth running in the newspaper.

Most of them get it dead wrong. And 99 percent of them end up in what we call “The Round File” – otherwise known as the garbage can. Which means the press release writer wasted their time and money faxing their press release to us.

Here are some ways to make your press release newsworthy and figure out if a particular media outlet would be interested in your story:

  1. If it’s a small local paper, radio station, or TV station, they are looking for local news. If you self-published a book or just created a new product that you want to market…you need to find a local angle or the media will not be interested. If you live in town, that can be a local angle. If there is no local angle you are likely wasting your time and paper sending the press release to them. Blasting your press release to every media outlet in the country isn’t going to increase the chances that it will get published.
  2. Come up with a charitable angle – donate 20 percent of your sales to a particular charity in your town, or some variation of this. Let all of the local media in your town know.
  3. Hold a contest for charity, and give away prizes. The better the top prize, the more newsworthy the event will be. A pet store could give away a year’s worth of pet food and grooming to the winner of a raffle; all proceeds could be donated to a local animal shelter. Great publicity for the store, very likely to get into the local media, and good for the animal shelter too.
  4. Come up with a publicity stunt to publicize your event or sale. The local media really do not care that you are having a George Washington’s Day sale, but if you have a George and Marsha Washington look alike contest with a weekend getaway for the prize winners, or some such prize – they are MUCH more likely to care.
  5. Tie your press release in to a national news trend. Say you want to publicize a course on web site flipping. Talk about how the real estate market has crashed, but there’s a new boom in the virtual real estate market.

Bio: Dana Willhoit is an award-winning journalist who worked a daily and weekly newpapers for 17 years. She now is owner and lead press release writer at
The Press Release Site in Orlando Florida.