Do Your Press Releases Suck?

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Most press releases fall flat. It’s a waste of paper (and bandwidth) that ends up filling the trash cans of news agencies. Even so, many people continue to produce them, hoping and praying that someday someone will remind them or quote them in an article.

A day never comes.

Most press releases are void because people make simple, easily correctable mistakes that, if corrected, would make a huge difference in the amount of coverage generated by their press releases. A few adjustments here and there, done consistently, will make all the difference.

Here are some of the biggest mistakes made when writing press releases:

  • They are not worthy of interest. – Your outings must be timely. If there is not something that needs to be covered at the time of writing, it is worth nothing to journalists. If you are trying to get the attention of news sources, you should update your news even if it is not.
  • They don't make you an expert.– You know who you are, but probably not the news agencies. You should include general information that explains why someone should care about what you have to say. Do not include your life story, but include enough to establish your credibility.
  • They are not timely.- If you are trying to get your comment covered on a hot topic, you must act quickly. With the 24-hour news cycle, either your PRs are in the hands of reporters when they write their stories, or you miss them. Unless you are a well-known billionaire or politician, no one explicitly writes a story about what you have to say the day after an event.
  • You ignore journalists.– Journalists usually call you for interviews or comments based on your PR if they are interested. Make yourself available as soon as possible if you want them to cover you.
  • The paragraphs are too long. – Press releases are expected to be short and crisp. They are not a way to tell whole stories or provide complete backgrounds. If they seem difficult to read, as in, have paragraphs longer than five lines, most journalists will throw them out.
  • They look unprofessional. – You don't need to have the most flashy letterhead on them, but sending a simple document without something clean that looks professional is a sure way to 39; to be rejected by hand.
  • You treat public relations like advertisements. – News sells advertising space. If that's what you want, buy it. Your press releases will not be printed in full – never – so don't write them as they would be.
  • You miss the point. – The point of a version is to get coverage. Sometimes that means having something in your press release directly quoted in an article. This usually only happens when your press release is about a major news topic that is widely reported anyway. What you're really looking for are phone calls for more information and / or interview requests. Write your press release in a way that intrigues journalists enough to make that phone call.


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