Press Release Autopsy – What the F Happened?
WARNING: The following guide provides Anti–PR advice. It’ll show you how NOT to do PR, which has been ruined after decades of misuse. Anti–PR is Kick-ass, Unrelenting Media Story-telling Influencer-Wrangling extraordinaire deliverables to garner favor in the court of public opinion.
And like so many other businesses, who better than you to get the word out as soon as possible? After all, the news is a 24-7 churn now – we don’t have the convenience to wait until it’s convenient to put together a press release or do it at our leisure. If you want to stay ahead in the game – you’ve got to be ahead of your competition. But I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.
So, you did what most other businesses do – you wrote a press release. You thought it was great – everything you wanted to say was in it. You thought it was an exciting read, irresistible to journalists. Really, who wouldn’t jump on your story? And out it went.
And silence followed.
What the “F”?!
Why did your “irresistible” press release die a lonely death, unwanted, unloved?
There could be one major cause of death, or there could be a long list of “co-morbidities” that collectively caused your press release to expire. There are many possibilities.
To find out what went wrong, you’ll need to be able to identity the mistakes common to press releases that may have been fatal to yours.
Let’s look at 7 of the biggest errors:
Mistaking Anti-PR for a Product Launch
Was it a new product or service you were touting in your press release? Look how you talked about it. Were there lot a flowery adjectives or adverbs or perhaps some…slight exaggeration? Of so, then it sounds like you were writing advertising or promotional copy, not a news story. Journalists don’t want advertisements or promotional pieces and the moment they see it, they’re move on. They want facts, a story of what that product or service is doing to solve their audience’s problems. (By the way, what are those problems?)
You Sent It in an Email Attachment – Whyyyy?
When was the last time you downloaded an email attachment from a source you didn’t know? I mean, that’s a cybersecurity 101 mistake that only novices make. Networks now won’t even let them through anymore most of the time – so even if you’ve written the press release of the year, no journalist is gonna see it – if they do, they’ll likely just see it was one more lame cybersecurity threat. And as an added “bonus”, you’ll probably be flagged as a spammer.
Journalists Don’t Speak Your Lingo
People know what FBI is short for and that NASA is an acronym. But the abbreviations and acronyms your industry uses aren’t nearly was well known. The more you put in, the less accessible and confusing your message becomes. Journalists don’t have time to decode your in-house terminology – and they won’t. Better to not use them at all. But if you have to, write out that the term first, then you can abbreviate it any subsequent mentions.
Just Because It’s Big Doesn’t Make It Important
Maybe you think capitalizing certain words looks good and will get more attention but doing that will likely make it look like you’re still trying to master the language. Grammar rules still apply to press releases – throwing in your own capital letters with a purpose in mind won’t translate to the reader. They’ll just look like the random mistakes of an amateur. Think about it – journalists, of all people, value good grammar.
What’s Even Worse than RaNdom CaPitalizaTion?
Spelling and punctuation errors – journalists have to be diligent in their own work – and while they don’t expect you to be an English scholar – they DO expect you do follow the basic rules. As great as your story may be, avoidable errors can easily dilute your story’s impact on the reader. Proofread your press release thoroughly. Better still have someone else on your team proofread a second time – they will often see issues you won’t because you’re too close to it.
Your Story’s Great but That (Yawn) Quote…
You want make journalists’ jobs as easy as possible, so give journalists enough meat to work with. A cookie-cutter quote can grind a story to a halt, kill its momentum, and just end up being useless filler. But a unique quote, something pertinent and of soundbite quality can provide journalists one more great tool to add to their own stories. (BTW, I HATE quotes with the word “excited” in it. Almost every boring press release reads with a quote from senior management saying they are excited. They are not excited. Come on—get real with your quotes.)
What About Your Phone Number? Email?
Yeah, I know. This is such a rookie mistake, but I thought it still should be included here. Why? Because you need to be including the right contact information. Journalists only want to talk to the CEO or other decision-maker within your business. Remember, what I said about making journalists’ jobs easier? Give them your direct phone number and email, not the general ones you give out normally. That means you’ll have to make yourself available for interviews (these can take some time) so be ready to carve out the time. This is a good thing! Don’t put off these calls for “later”. Journalists don’t have a lot of time and will quickly move on if they think you’re giving them the brush off. And DO NOT forget that all-important, eye-catching headline that stops reader in their tracks.
These are just a few of the mistakes and oversights you need to be on the lookout any time you send out a press release. I know it’s a lot but overlooking any one of them can mean the difference between the media grabbing your press release off the newswires or having them push it to the delete bin.
Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about missing a vital step – JOTO PR Disruptors’ team of seasoned newsroom writers specializes in getting your newsworthy stories from the biggest media outlets to the appropriate industry-specific publications. We’ll ensure you’ll get all the press attention you want – and help secure the third-party credibility you need. Contact us today.