March 14 2014

Interview: Suzanne Gardner, CityLine.ca

Sometimes press releases are successful, receiving the awesome coverage you had hoped for, and sometimes they go from inbox to trash folder in three-seconds flat. It’s easy to become annoyed by all of your hard work ending up in a virtual garbage bin, but what if the person deciding what’s worth a read could shed some light on the situation?

Suzanne Gardner receives her fair share of press releases as the content creator for CityLine.ca, Canada’s longest running daytime show, covering everything from book reviews to beauty secrets. As the content creator for the show’s online counterpart, we knew that Suzanne would be a great source for how to get the right attention with your press release.

How to get into an editor’s or writer’s good graces with Cityline’s Suzanne Gardner

The News Generator: What kinds of press releases do you receive on a regular basis?

Suzanne Gardner: I receive an average of a dozen press releases per day, promoting everything from new beauty products, fashion lines, books, and health products, to fundraising events, launch parties, and concerts.

NG: How do you decide which stories make it further than your inbox?

SG: First and foremost, you have to grab my attention. Like most people, I get a ton of emails throughout the day, and if your press release doesn’t have an engaging headline, it’s going to end up in my trash bin pretty quickly. Secondly, your pitch has to fit my target demographic. It’s so important to do your research on who you’re emailing before you send your press release out. Not only will you hit better, more suitable targets, but your target will also be impressed that you took the time to pitch something that actually fits what they do. With my job, I’m looking for content for one of Canada’s top lifestyle brands that’s existed for 30 years. We’ve covered a lot of cool things in the past three decades, so you need to really show me why what your pitch is something our viewers need to know about.

NG: What’s the quickest way for a PR professional to get into your good books?

SG: If I reply to your press release looking for more information, get it back to me quickly! I’m also always really impressed when a publicist takes note of which pitches I’m interested in and which I skip over — and then send me future press releases accordingly. Don’t keep sending me pitches about the hottest new sports cars if I usually only respond to your health and beauty releases.

NG: What’s the quickest way to get out of them?

SG: Sending large attachments! Many companies (like mine) have email inboxes with fairly small storage capacities, so if you send me a press release with several large images, you might set me over my storage limit. Instead, try to include one eye-catching image (that’s not too hi-res) and include a link to additional images — if I’m interested, I’ll click through!

NG: Think about the very best press release you’ve ever received. What was it about that release that made it so memorable?

SG: While I’m having trouble recalling one specifically amazing press release, I’ve always been particularly hooked by press releases that leave me wanting just a little bit more. Long blocks of text tend to lose my attention partway through, so keep it short and sweet. In fact, if you can give me the most salient (and most attention-grabbing) info in a short paragraph or two, add a fantastic image, and then include a link for additional details, I’m more likely to click through to your site and be interested in finding out more. Memorable doesn’t have to mean flashy, so don’t go crazy with large photos and coloured text — better to hook me and make me eager to find out more!

Do you have any questions about press releases you would like answered? Comment below and we might write an entire blog post about it!