12 May 7 Mistakes to Avoid The Bad Press Release
This Throwback Thursday thing has us digging into our article archives and shockingly, much of what we wrote more than ten years ago, still applies. We found this article we wrote back in 2002 about what to do and not to do when writing and communicating with media about press releases. We STILL see companies making infractions on these rules, so we resurrect it again.
Many companies make the mistake of thinking that news releases are simple regurgitations of company news. WRONG! These are your tools to reach the media, your customers and your industry. Too many news releases are sent out to the world with false or incorrect information, have no “real” value, or are not followed up on correctly. Believe it or not, there is a certain finesse that is required when writing and distributing news releases.
The purpose of publicity is to inform the public about news, events, people and things of that nature, not to tell a story. Think news. Put yourself in the editor/reporter’s shoes and the reader’s shoes, and communicate newsworthy facts, not personal, promoting stories.
Make sure that your publicity has a news angle to it. Creating a newsworthy angle to anything increases the probability that something will get published. Local angles to national stories are also considered news. Consider what readers want to read. Put yourself in their shoes. Identify your target market. You want to publicize in those places that are seen by your target market. Consider the publication; consider the readership.
Below are seven extremely common mistakes companies make when working with news releases. Use these tips to avoid these pitfalls yourself!
- Providing too little or wrong information, particularly telephone numbers.
- Releases are too long. They should be no longer than a page and absolutely no longer than two pages. Remember, the goal is to get the media to call YOU!
- Sending it too late. Mail or fax it to local media at least two weeks before an event, preferably three or four. Major magazines work four to six months ahead of time.
- Sending a release with no news value. Don’t try to make something news when it isn’t, nothing puts the media off faster.
- Hype, hype, hype. Avoid words and phrases such as spectacular, incredible, the only one of its kind, breakthrough, cutting-edge, unique and state-of-the-art.
- Omitting a contact name and phone number. Who wants to miss an opportunity for a story placement simply because you forgot to include a phone number?
- Calling after you send a release with questions like “Did you get my news release?” or “Do you know when it will be printed?” When you do call, make the call worthwhile, suggest a particular angle to your story, or ask if they need any other information. Be helpful, not annoying. The first thing you should say when phoning an editor is, “Are you on deadline?”