go to Reviewsgo to Servicesgo to Registered Usersgo to Resource Centrego to AbleStable: Helpgo to About Us
go to AbleStable: Home Articles
go to Search

go to Exhibitions Centre
  The Internet: exploring the world of creative professionals
go to Help
go to Resource Centre
go to Library
go to Articles
go to E-Books
go to Glossary
go to Reviews
go to Web Link
Library > Articles > The Internet > 012

E-mail this web page address to a friend or colleague
Enter their email address below (no record is kept of this action)


Email News Release Basics
Contributor: Steve O'Keefe


For many creative professionals publicising their work is a constant struggle. Here's how one method of email publicity might just get you the results you're after.

Trolling, the Email News Release

Several of my clients refer to the process of using email news releases as "trolling". While trolling will never replace standard prepublication publicity, it is revolutionizing publication date launches. Here's a quick primer on how trolling works.

The usual practice for promoting book reviews is to prepare a list of media outlets, mail review copies, then hound recipients until they write something or tell you to go away. Typically, less than 10 percent of review copies lead to coverage. If you send 300 review copies and get 30 reviews, stories, interviews or mentions, you're doing well.

Compare this to trolling, made possible by email. Instead of sending books to hundreds of outlets, you send a short email pitch to thousands of media contacts, asking if they'd like a review copy. Out of those thousands, maybe 100 will ask for the book, and half of those will lead to coverage with timely and persistent follow-up.

Let's compare the results. The old method uses 300 books, extensive follow-up, and generates 30 hits. The new method uses 100 books, less follow-up, and scores 50 hits. Many publishers are sceptical about email news releases. Heck, I was sceptic until I saw the results myself! The trolling method has worked for me book after book, season after season, for eight years, with no signs of diminishing returns. Once you try it, you'll never go back.

What Makes It Work?

Many publishers have gotten into trouble with indiscriminate use of email news releases. If you follow some simple rules, you should be able to troll comfortably with consistent good results. Here's my checklist:

Keep It Short
I wrote a four-paragraph news release for the training session at Gibbs Smith Pulbishers, and the publicist there suggested I cut it to three paragraphs. I could have kissed her. Length is enemy number one. You can't be cute or coy; you've got to cut to the chase and get out of the way.

Text Only - No Attachments
Journalists want straight text messages with no styles, colors, graphics, or attachments. You don't need all that fancy stuff for a three-paragraph pitch.

Target Your Media Carefully
Only send releases to those media most likely to be interested in the story you're pitching. You can't mail bomb everyone on your list with every release or you will soon be filtered or blacklisted. If someone complains, immediately remove his or her email address from your list and apologize.

What Results Can You Expect?

Email news releases will not usually work for glossy magazines, national publications, network TV, or other major media outlets. These people are used to being courted the old-fashioned way and often need galleys months ahead of time.

Email news releases are good for building broad-based, grassroots support under a title. While you can't afford to send review copies of a new book to every newspaper in the U.S., you can afford to send them an email news release and follow up with a book for those who request one.

That said, every trolling effort usually catches a few big fish. On average, I send releases to 500-1500 contacts, get requests for 50 to 150 books, and land between five and 10 "heavy hitters" - major media outlets, any one of which would be a significant publicity victory. In the training campaign for Gibbs Smith, there were about 100 requests for review copies, including these heavy hitters:

The Milwaukee Journal; The Chicago Tribune; The Boston Globe; USA Today; Popular Woodworking; Metropolitan Home; RealSimple Magazine; Fox News; The Today Show; Problems with Trolling

There are several obstacles to making trolling a regular part of your publicity program. First, many people are simply not prepared to process the huge amounts of email involved. If you send out thousands of messages, you are going to get hundreds back - within a matter of hours - including bounces, requests, and complaints. Email processing can be automated using filters, but setting good filters requires training, trial-and-error, and someone clever at the controls.

A second obstacle is software. Trolling relies on email and contact management software. Programs such as Outlook and Access (or equivalents) work fine as long as you have the latest upgrades. Many publicists think new software will solve their problems, but it's more important to learn how to fight well with your existing software.

A third obstacle is finding the personal email addresses of media contacts. Commercial media directories are weak in this regard. There is simply no substitute for gleaning email addresses by sifting through publications and web sites. This work can be done by interns and entry-level staff.

If you haven't tried trolling, I encourage you to test the waters. Most folks love it, some don't. If you have tried trolling, I'd be curious to hear about your successes and hardships; your lessons will help everyone else improve their techniques for getting people talking about our books. Good luck.

Authors background

Steve O'Keefe is a prolific writer. He has edited six newsletters and has written more than 100 articles and several books. His writing has appeared in Harper's, The Wall Street Journal, Outside, Salon, HotWired, NetWorth, Entrepreneur, Curio, and dozens of other magazines. He was one of the original writers for Internet World magazine, a columnist for the COSMEP Newsletter, and a frequent contributor to Small Press, PMA Newsletter, SPAN Connection, and other publishing periodicals.

Steve's writing has been anthologized in several books, including Publicity Basics, by the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses. His latest book is Complete Guide to Internet Publicity (John Wiley & Sons, 2002-2007), the successor to the critically acclaimed 'bestseller', Publicity on the Internet (Wiley, 1996).

Contact Information
Steve O'Keefe
Adjunct Faculty, Tulane University College
Executive Director, Patron Saint Productions, Inc.
741 Saint Philip St. #241, New Orleans, LA 70116 USA
Voice: (504) 586-9517 Fax: (504) 586-9518
Web Site:

If you observe inaccuracies in our articles or wish to contribute an article or review to be included at AbleStable® visit Feedback

Copyright Notice
Although our contents are free to browse, copyright resides with the originators of all works accessed at AbleStable®, and unauthorised copying or publication of our site contents is strictly prohibited. To use our specially selected premium content go to Content Syndication and Licensing.

AbleStable © 2002-2007


 All Material: AbleStable © 2002-2007
go to Frequently Asked Questionsgo to Feedbackgo to Press Centrego to Privacy Statement