Press Release Success

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In a perfect world, every press release would be devoid of grammatical errors, poor styling, and lackluster details. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world, and plenty of uninspiring things are making the rounds. Sending out a press release is part of the job for every PR person, and most of us go into auto-pilot when writing them. Don’t let that make you careless – read over your latest draft and see how many of these questions you can answer positively.

Is this actually newsworthy and worth reading?

Don’t release something for the sake of… well, releasing something. While all of us strive to secure consistent, frequent media attention for our companies or clients, nobody is likely to read a page of filler about the new Facebook button on your website. If nothing big is happening and that’s the best you’ve got, dig deeper. Make everyone who might read your release care about what it says. Don’t forget about your media contacts; include why this release is relevant to their audience and publication in your pitch.

Is this following the rules of AP style (or something extremely similar)?

Journalists are busy people. Their respective organizations don’t have time to mark up your releases with red pen and initiate an editing process with you.  The less a journalist has to fix up your press release, the greater the chances are that it’ll go to print. Some news media allows you to take greater liberties than others, but overall your press release should follow an AP style model. If you’re targeting a few outlets specifically, look at a sampling of their articles. Make a note of the word structure, and infuse as much of it as possible into your press release. And please – don’t forget to proofread your copy.

Am I using the right language?

Is your release loaded with buzzwords or industry jargon? Tell me if the following sentence means anything to you: “A dynamic line of CSS was written to creatively display PNG files.” Unless you know that CSS is a coding language, and PNG stands for “portable network graphic”, I’ve completely lost you. What’s more, I threw in two buzzwords: dynamic, and creative. Do either of those tell you anything about how the website is going to look? What makes it dynamic? Why is it so creative? “An animated scrolling gallery displays each image at its highest resolution, allowing visitors to easily view every photograph.” Now, readers can clearly understand what you’ve done, and can form a positive connection to it.

Will this reach the right people once I send it out?

Each release should have a purpose. In the digital age, simply attaching a release to a mass email of various contacts is far from effective. I mentioned earlier that you should make a convincing pitch to your media contacts. Follow up (but don’t be annoying)! Use newswires (like PRWeb or PRNewswire) to distribute your release online, too. Only aiming for digital targets? Embed links into your copy – it’s a missed opportunity otherwise. Finally, use social media to your advantage by seeding links.

Is this being circulated in a timely manner?

This one’s easy: don’t distribute a release about something that happened last month. It goes without saying that a press release must be written and published in a timely fashion. The only time you should rehash a past event is if your release introduces fresh, breaking news. Stick to having your releases ready within 48 hours of the events they discuss. You might be up late, but that’s why us PR people aren’t paid by the hour!

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