When I was a newspaper reporter, on slow news days, my editors used to hand me stacks of press releases that had been faxed to us, and ask me to find something worth writing about.

Think about it. Dozens of press releases, and I only was going to pick out one or two at most, and the rest were going to end up shoved into the recycling bin by the copy machine.

So which press release would I pick?

I can tell you right now that if it didn’t have any angle of local interest, odds were it was going to go into the bin. If it was poorly written and filled with typos, it was DEFINITELY going right into the bin.

Here are some of the things that would make me, or an editor, look twice at a press release:

1.) If it had some useful news to our local readership. Contest giving away a free tank of gas or a month’s worth of groceries IN OUR GEOGRAPHICAL AREA? That might do it.

2.)  A Hollywood style tie-in. Yes, it’s going to be hard to get a celebrity to come to your store or promote your product unless you are very wealthy and can throw a lot of money at them. So look at ways to tie in to celebrity trends; for example, “The Next Internet Millionaire” was a great concept because it ties in to the ongoing fascination with reality shows.

3.) If you have created a new product, offer a sample to the appropriate editor or reporter for review.

4.) Fundraisers. I know I harp on this one a lot, but it’s true: a fundraiser is a GREAT way to grab lots of press. Is there a local family in need, displaced by a fire, etc.? Can you help out an animal shelter? A battered women’s shelter? It’s almost a sure bet that you can get your business some local press if you hold a fundraiser.

5.) Publicity stunts. Don’t go crazy, and don’t violate the law, but sponsoring a Santa parade or celebrity lookalike contest, or a pet-owner lookalike contest, just to name a few ideas, is a great way to get the press to show up.

And tomorrow, I will write a post about the one thing that you can do that will greatly, exponentially increase the chance of your press release being picked up by local media.