Press releases are highly effective and relatively inexpensive ways of getting the word out about a new product or service. The drawback is that marketers know this, and so the average journalist will see dozens if not hundreds of examples every day. If you want your release to be noticed you need to hit the mark first time. Here are six mistakes which will see your press release relegated to the rejected pile before it’s had chance to get your message across.
Not Providing News
A press release is not an advertisement. It needs to offer something truly newsworthy which will be of genuine interest to a publication’s readership. If your release doesn’t provide something worth publishing, then why should the journalist waste time over it?
Using Promotional Language
You’re not trying to sell your product to the journalist, and using marketing language or hype is unlikely to be appreciated. Stick to the facts without sensationalism or selling. Avoid overt opinions apart from in your direct quotes (see below), and even when you truly believe that your product is the best on the market, stay objective and restrained.
Not Providing an Angle
If your press release sparks off the idea for a story in the journalist’s mind, it stands a much better chance of success. Try and provide an angle for the journalist to work with, and if you can tailor this to the specific publication’s theme or audience then all the better. Human interest always provides a good hook to build a story around, so try and introduce this in a somewhat understated way.
Not Providing a Quote
All press releases should include a quote from a real person within your company, and this quote should be interesting enough to publish as-is. It shouldn’t be overly commercial, but this is your one chance within a release to extol the virtues of your product or service using more natural language rather than sticking to bare facts – so make it count.
Unnecessary Length or Wordiness
Journalists are busy people, and don’t have time to read reams of text. Get straight to the point, capture the attention within the headline and first sentence or two, and don’t be tempted to go into too much detail. Outline the most important facts in an interesting and immediate way, and then provide links to further reading for those who want more information. Aim for a length of between 300 and 500 words, but avoid padding out just to achieve this length.
Poor Grammar and Spelling
Journalists are professional writers and will be highly sensitive to poor spelling and lazy grammar. Your press release simply won’t be taken seriously if it includes mistakes so proof it carefully.
A well-written press release can generate a huge amount of exposure for very little cost, but it requires a different style of writing than other marketing methods. Avoiding these mistakes will give your release the best possible chance of achieving traction amid the sea of thousands of competing texts circulating every day.