When articulated well and containing useful, relevant information, the humble press release can still achieve excellent results in promoting your event or company news. I’ve been handling press releases for Bristol businesses and many others reaching the length and breadth of the UK and US now. Whilst unable to guarantee publishing, avoiding committing the seven sins of bad PR should put you in good stead for consideration by journalists, bloggers and media types.
#1 Your title is not striking
As the opener, the title is the first thing a journalist will see. If it’s clunky, badly written or too long, it may well be the only thing they’ll see. With this in mind: make it punchy and a good condensed version of the key newsworthy angle of your release. Opting to use puns or wordplay is only really successful if it’s actually funny.
#2 You’ve written it in the first person
Many companies make the mistake of more or less lifting the content of their press release from their ‘About Us’ page. A press release is never written in the first person. It should never say “we’ve achieved” this or “I believe” that. It’s always written as though someone else is presenting your story: hopefully the myriad journalists who see it as newsworthy. Of course, quotes from the CEO or MD are kept in the first person.
#3 You’ve not exploited quotes
Touched upon above, it’s really important to emphasise the importance of quotes. Once you’ve decided on an angle for your story, include quotes from yourself or a company spokesperson. As well as being the only part of a release that is acceptable in the first person, quotes are the only thing journalists can’t change. As such these are an opportunity to really sell your idea, event or news.
#4 Punctuation sucks
Anything from a rogue apostrophe to overuse of CAPS will make the decision to delete you release for good, easy for potential journalists. Editors, reporters and journalists are busy people with tight deadlines to consider. Think of this when creating your press release. It needs to be as ‘ready to use’ as possible to, ultimately, save time. If you’re not sure on the rules of English, ask someone to proof your news who is. Or employ a writer to create your press release for you.
#5 Where’s that?
No stone should be left unturned when it comes to exactly who your company are and where to find them. As a subheading, include a summary before your first paragraph including who and where you are and the angle. Part of my service includes undertaking this research for clients, but many journalists won’t be this patient and if you don’t include all information, they may well reject your press release.
#6 It reads too much like an advert
This is a tricky balance to create. Essentially, you do want the release to act as a form of free advertising for your company. However, you can’t make it too promotional. Foremost, a press release should be a presentation of facts, so keep it factual and use objective copy as opposed to using too much hyperbole or making unrealistic claims about your company.
#7 Irrelevant content
Again, a really common mistake companies make when creating their press releases for submission is forgetting to find a newsworthy angle. Although you may wish to promote a 30% sale, which is great news to existing customers, how is it relevant to the readership of your target press? You need to relate the benefits to the journalist’s readers in order to maximise their chances of publishing. Read news in that sector and relate your release to an angle.