How NOT to write a Press Release
Four or five years ago a select group of journalists were approached and asked what they looked for in a Press Release. Contrary bunch that they are they changed the stress of the inquiry and answered what not to write. Remember, a press release is a presentation of facts aimed at the media with a chance that it gets read and published. Here are a few tips to improve that chance.
Do not make the title of your press release tedious, over-verbose or over-excited. Use a subtitle. Make it interesting. Do not use puns unless Oscar Wilde is responsible for your PR.
Do not forget graphics or photographs. The media receive hundred of press releases written by professionals every day. An image of your product and perhaps of good, head and shoulders portrait of yourself will often help you stand out. Do not imbed or attach these images – servers will often regard this as spam and your press release will be blocked.
Do not write in the first person. It sounds rubbish.
Do not drone on. Short and sweet is the way forward. If your press release stretches to a second page it’s too long. Remember ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘when’. You can add a ‘how ‘ and a ‘why’ if you really have to. You can bulk out the details in a second paragraph but do not add spurious information just for the sake of it.
Do not over hype. Avoid superlatives. Avoid CAPITALS. Avoid exclamation marks!! Do not use ‘World-Beating’, ‘Unique’, ‘Industry-Leading’ or similar. Do not use management speak. Do not sound like you are in marketing. Journalists and content curators can spot BS better than most – they are used to receiving it from the very best.
Do not mess up your punctuation. Do not spell incorrectly. Check things. Check them a second time. Journalists are terrible grammar snobs and nothing winds them up more than….doing:- This (sort Of thing).
Do not forget quotes. Ideally use something that doesn’t sound like your Mum made up on your behalf. A good quote from yourself or a customer will do or better still one from an expert in the field.
Do not forget dates, contacts and the boilerplate. Date at the top. Town and country. Full name, landline and mobile numbers, e-mail and perhaps your postal address too. In the boilerplate at the bottom of the press release add your website URL with a small personal summary.
Do not put headings in pointless bold-type just to look interesting. Er…