How to e-mail a press release to journalists

Have you got a book publicity, promotion, or marketing question you’d like answered? I’m going to start using video to answer some of the questions I receive. Video lets me show, rather than tell, how to do certain tasks, but it also offers a way for those who prefer watching videos over reading to learn more about the topics I cover in my blog.

Today’s topic could be the question I receive the most: What’s the best way to e-mail a press release to a journalist or an author? (For more information on using press release distribution services for mass mailings, read, “How to use PRWeb for press release distribution.“) You can get the answer by watching the how-to-do-it video below or by reading a quasi-transcript of my online instructions below. (To see the on-screen steps better, use the “full screen” icon in the lower right of the video box.)

Transcript

Today I’m going to answer a question I get asked all of the time: What’s the best way to e-mail a press release about your book to a journalist or a reporter?

I can tell you now what the worst way is – sending it as an attachment. I know authors do it that way because I receive them in my e-mail. Journalists – and others — usually won’t open attachments from people they don’t know. That means the press release doesn’t get read, and it could explain some of the disappointing results.

I’ll walk you through the process on my computer screen. It will only take a few minutes.

What you do want to do is copy and paste. You don’t want to attach anything – whether it’s a press release or photos.

  1. Start with a catchy subject line. Don’t use “press release from author” or “News release.” You can copy and paste the headline of your press release – that can work. I write something catchy and have it prepared in my Word file with the press release. I’ve used “New book shares pro’s press release secrets” because the press release we’re working with announces my new book, which teaches authors how to write a book announcement press release.
  2. Then add a short introduction that personalizes the message and says something like, “I hope you can use this; let me know if you have questions.”
  3. Copy and paste your press release into the e-mail message form.
  4. Add your signature.
  5. Check everything over.
  6. Fill in the “To” line. If it’s just one person, just type in the e-mail address. If you’re sending it to several at once, you want to protect their privacy and e-mail addresses by not using the “To” space. When sending to more than one person, put all addresses in the BCC line (blind carbon copy) and send it to yourself.
  7. Hit the send button.

That’s it. In summary, you need:

  • A great subject line
  • Quick cover note
  • The press release copied and pasted
  • E-mail signature
  • The “To” line and “BCC” line completed (when appropriate)
  • Review before sending

I’m happy to answer questions about this or other topics. Send them to me at sbATbuildbookbuzz.com. I’ll respond through e-mail, here on the blog, or maybe in another video.

I hope this helps. Good luck promoting your book!

Please share this link with any authors you think would find the information helpful. Also, feel free to ask questions here by leaving a comment instead of using e-mail.


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Sandra Beckwith is an award-winning former publicist who now teaches authors how to market their books. Three groups have recognized her BuildBookBuzz.com site as an outstanding resource for authors, so you know her advice is author-tested.

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35 Responses to How to e-mail a press release to journalists
  1. Rachel
    July 31, 2012 | 6:51 pm

    Great tips! There is a wonderful Canadian company called Industry Mailout – http://www.industrymailout.com/ that will set you up with a great header of your logo specifically for press release headlines. It allows you to import addresses,and you can either pay by the email or choose an affordable package. And it’s less hassle than Constant Contact. If you utilize your own database plus use another distribution company ( paid or free) it doubles the chances of a journalist picking it up.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      July 31, 2012 | 6:54 pm

      Thanks, Rachel! I love that resource tip!

      Sandy

  2. Joy Pedersen
    July 31, 2012 | 7:04 pm

    I have been in the habit of sending the press release as an attachment as well as in the body because I didn’t know what worked better for them.

    Do you think that it still better to not bother with the attachment?

    Thank you

    • Sandra Beckwith
      July 31, 2012 | 7:11 pm

      Joy, don’t bother with the attachment, especially if it’s a PDF file.

      Sandy

  3. Joy Pedersen
    July 31, 2012 | 7:47 pm

    Thank you Sandy.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      August 1, 2012 | 12:42 am

      : )

  4. Judith Marshall
    August 1, 2012 | 3:30 pm

    Wonderful tips, Sandra. The press release I sent out through PR.com landed me a movie option, so I’m all for this!

    BTW, Happy National Girlfriends Day!

    Judith Marshall
    Author of “Husbands May Come and Go but Friends are Forever”

    • Sandra Beckwith
      August 1, 2012 | 3:40 pm

      Judith, that is SO EXCITING! Congratulations! Keep us posted on your success!

      Sandy

  5. Judith Marshall
    August 1, 2012 | 4:16 pm

    Thanks. I’m expecting a re-write of the screenplay on August 6th. Hope I love it!

  6. Deborah H. Bateman
    August 28, 2012 | 9:25 pm

    Thanks for sharing this video showing us how to email a press release. I was wondering if you had a list of preferred people to send press releases to or a list of what to include in the press release. Blessings, Deborah H. Bateman-Author

    • Sandra Beckwith
      August 28, 2012 | 11:15 pm

      Deborah, I have both in my new e-book, “Get Your Book in the News: How to Write a Press Release That Announces Your Book.” You can find the details at http://buildbookbuzz.com/get-your-book-in-the-news.

      Thanks for asking!

      Sandy

  7. Larry Winebrenner
    August 31, 2012 | 8:00 pm

    Sandy my love,

    You have another winner.

    Reading other people’s comments leads me to believe they did not experience some of the problems I did.

    Please understand, this is not a complaint. You had an excellent presentation. but when I was in the navy, after a sortie, we had what is called a debriefing session. The purpose was to look at what worked and—not what was wrong—what could be improved.

    Since this was your first video experience, I thought you might be interested in a little debriefing.

    First of all, I’ve had extensive experience in producing slide/tape videos in both the college and for government departments. These were essentially PowerPoint type programs before desktop computing. The presentations were made using slide projectors and audiotapes. I’ve adapted that experience to computer video programs.

    That is background to verify the validity of my statement that the program was well conceived. The manuscript was excellent.

    So, what’s left to be improved? My comments rely on the fidelity of my computer, so additional comments are invited—to modify or to agree with my own comments.

    First, I think the voice quality can be improved with better equipment. It was pitched a bit high, but if your natural voice is high, good equipment can add harmonics which soften the pitch a bit. Of course, this is a purely subjective observation, but in dozens of presentations—hundreds?—to college students, a common complaint was high pitched voices.

    Another suggestion is improving the very good visual presentations. They clearly showed what needs to be done. One of the blindnesses of us teachers, is forgetting what we know so well is not so quickly understood by those being exposed to the information for the first—or even second or third—time.

    This is obvious to us when we observe chemistry teachers losing student perception because of the chemical jargon used, or the math teacher befuddling students because of mathematical terms tossed out in a lecture.

    The same charge can be made against us when we run over a process on the screen saying, “First you go here to activate program,” and while the tyro is still looking for the “here” we go on, “and next you jump to your Word document to cut and paste . . .”

    Frequent pauses are not like “dead air” on radio programs. They are helpful guides to the ones we’re trying to teach.

    Here’s another technique I’ve used and seen used by others. When you’re identifying a location on the screen, say a button that links to a file, enlarge that spot temporarily—not too temporarily!—and give a clearer view of your subject.

    Again, I’m not trying to take anything away from such an excellent presentation.
    I found it helpful and I’m grateful for it.

    Besides, i’d never do anything to upset one I love so dearly as Sandra.

    Larry Winebrenner, Novelist
    http://TheCaseOfTheLockedDrawer.com/reviews

    • Sandra Beckwith
      August 31, 2012 | 8:10 pm

      Thank you, Larry! Feedback is always helpful. I’m printing your comments and saving them.

      Smooches,
      Sandy

  8. Grace Brannigan
    September 9, 2012 | 4:18 pm

    Good instructional inforomation. I really have to gear up my press release agenda. I have 5 books out with a 6th coming shortly and I’m wondering how often you should send a release out without being too crazy about it? Is there a schedule that seems the most effective? When each new book comes out? A press release for each line? I have two, contemporary romance and time travel. Thanks.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      September 10, 2012 | 12:55 am

      Great question, Grace! You want to send an announcement press release for each book, but you can also send other types of press releases on an ongoing basis. These include tip sheets (see tge “tips” section here on the toolbar) and press releases that announce news that might include survey results, a holiday you’ve created, speaking engagements, and so on. Sending one a month is a good idea if you can do it.

      Sandy

    • Pamela Kay Noble Brown
      October 2, 2012 | 5:44 pm

      Hi Grace, I am actually here asking Sandra a question. But I clicked on your link and just wanted to say you have a very pretty and appealing website. Love the colors.

  9. Pamela Kay Noble Brown
    October 2, 2012 | 5:38 pm

    Hi Sandra. I just saw this article through a share on Pubit! on Facebook. Fantastic article

    I love the idea of BCCs instead of using the To line for each recipient. Thank you for that tip.

    My question is who do we send it too? For the local town newspaper, would you suggest that I address it directly to the general editor, or to the arts and features editor, or to the community news editor (since I’m a local author made it big?…lol, I wish.I just wanted to see what it felt like to put that in writing) or would you send it to all three?

    • Sandra Beckwith
      October 2, 2012 | 6:26 pm

      I’m so glad it was helpful, Pamela. Regarding who you send it to at the local newspaper…it depends on the book and the size of the newspaper. If it’s about small business, you’d send it to the small business reporter or if there isn’t one, to the business editor. A cookbook would go to the food writer, food editor, or lifestyle editor. If your newspaper features local authors regularly (as mine does on Sun. in the living section), then you send it to the reporter responsible for that feature.

      Keep working at it and you WILL be that local author who made it big! : )

      Sandy

  10. Pamela Kay Noble Brown
    October 2, 2012 | 7:52 pm

    Duh…that makes so much sense now, the appropriate editor that fits your book. Thanks again for your help. 🙂

    • Sandra Beckwith
      October 2, 2012 | 11:58 pm

      Nah, not that obvious! Good luck!

      Sandy

  11. Phyllis Burton
    October 27, 2012 | 11:17 am

    This has really hit the spot, Sandra. Lots of good advice – now I need the time to make use of it. Thank you.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      October 27, 2012 | 8:29 pm

      So glad to hear it, Phyllis! Thanks!

      Sandy

    • Stephen Bradley
      February 15, 2014 | 1:17 pm

      Phyllis, Yes I can relate all to well for the need of more time. I have found the information useful as well.

      • Sandra Beckwith
        February 15, 2014 | 11:28 pm

        I’m glad it was helpful, Stephen.

        Sandy

  12. Neely Steinberg
    February 21, 2014 | 4:03 pm

    Hi Sandy,

    Thanks for this post! I just self-published a book about dating (a self-help book entitled “Skin In the Game: Unleashing Your Inner Entrepreneur to Find Love”) and have consulted a PR friend and a journalist friend about the direction of my press release.

    The journalist said that a book, as an entity, isn’t likely to be interesting to most editors, who receive a billion books on their desks every day. But maybe some of the tips in my book will inspire a story. So I’m struggling here. Do I write a press release announcing the book and what it’s about, or do I write a press release that focuses on a story idea, that just so happens to mention the debut of my book.

    The journalist said: After all, a lot of women’s mags want to offer their readers actionable advice, not just directions to another book to buy. You want to say, “Here’s the information your readers will find valuable,” not “Here’s a book your readers will want to buy.”

    I understand how to pitch editors story ideas (I was a freelance writer for many years), but I guess I just don’t know if I should forgo a traditional book release entirely in favor of a release that editor’s actually see as useful information.

    The PR person said to pitch a story idea and then attach the book press release so the editors have the info on the book if they want to pursue anything, but as you say, a journalist doesn’t read an email with an attachment (unless it’s from someone they know).

    The last option could be to put out a press release announcing the release of the book and then just start pitching story ideas to editors and in the copy of my pitch put a link to the press release (I’m assuming that’s possible). Does the press release link last forever?

    Confused as to what direction to go. Your thoughts?

    Many thanks!
    Neely Steinberg
    http://www.thelovetrep.com

  13. Sandra Beckwith
    February 21, 2014 | 4:34 pm

    Neely, the short answer is: You do both, and then some.

    You’re going to send out review copies of your book and you’ll set up a virtual book tour (http://bit.ly/riprnA). You need a straightforward book announcement press release for that — it must accompany the book when you send it or the tour pitch that you’ll e-mail. Here’s more on that: http://bit.ly/Q34AtL

    You also want to write and send tip sheets on an ongoing basis, which is a twist on what your very smart friend is suggesting: http://bit.ly/uG6nA9

    Along with that, you want to pitch story ideas specific to individual media outlets (rather than mass e-mailed pitch letters): http://bit.ly/12sYL0Z

    Good luck!

    Sandy

  14. Neely Steinberg
    February 21, 2014 | 4:53 pm

    This is tremendous! Thanks, Sandy. Will definitely refer fellow writers to this site.

    Best,
    Neely

    • Sandra Beckwith
      February 21, 2014 | 5:05 pm

      Thanks, Neely! Please encourage them to subscribe to the newsletter (see form in the upper right or go to http://buildbookbuzz.com) because the newsletter content is different from the blog content — same helpful approach, but different articles, links to helpful free tools and resources, and special offers and discounts.

      : )

      Sandy

  15. Sharon Hayes
    November 2, 2014 | 9:04 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing information about submitting emailed press releases.

    Best regards,

    Sharon

    • Sandra Beckwith
      November 3, 2014 | 12:36 am

      You’re welcome, Sharon!

      Sandy

  16. Nancy Christie
    April 25, 2016 | 10:25 am

    Your posts are top-notch and very informative!
    A comment: I used to send the releases via my email program but was told that could lead to being blocked out as Spam so now use MailChimp. I have created separate lists for each state (I do them as I need them. For example, during my recent book tour to Florida, I created a list just for those areas I would be visiting) and a press release template that I customize as needed.
    One other suggestion: I have a press page that has images and media kit. My release has a link to that page so I don’t have to add any attachments.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      April 25, 2016 | 12:04 pm

      Thanks, Nancy! Your helpful tip applies when doing mass distribution because you never want to distribute large numbers of press releases from your email software for exactly the reason cited — it will be tagged as spam. The advice in the video is for one-offs, not mass distribution. MailChimp is a great solution when you’ve got a large distribution list you’ve created and update yourself. I’m glad you’re making good use of it.

      Thanks for the input!

      Sandy

  17. Mimi Stevens
    February 12, 2017 | 5:37 pm

    Hi Sandra, nice job on the video and thank you.

    My first book is self-published, printed, and almost ready to launch. It’s an illustrated storybook that teaches kids two easy yet amazing skills for reducing pain or anxiety and increasing focus & self-confidence.

    Above, you said that there is a contact list of reviewers in your book. That’s wonderful, but cumbersome if each contact has to be hand-entered into an email list, one by one, especially when I’d need to determine if they each review children’s books. Do you have a categorized list on a spreadsheet that could be loaded into Mail Chimp (or whatever)? Or know where I can get one?

    If not, is there a particular distribution service that you feel might be the most cost-effective investment for me?

    Also, I am always concerned about putting my town at the beginning of the release, because it might be seen as less relevant to far away reviewers. Your thoughts?

    Thank you so much!

    • Sandra Beckwith
      February 12, 2017 | 6:43 pm

      Hi Mimi,

      My “Get Your Book in the News” e-book has links to online resources that let you create your own media lists and links to press release distribution services — not reviewers per se and not names of reviewers.

      I recommend a few press release distributions here:
      https://buildbookbuzz.com/resources/

      As for identifying your city in the dateline, that’s for journalists, not readers. It’s the format they expect to see. That said…readers don’t care where you live. They’re interested in what the book will do for them.

      Good luck!

      Sandy

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