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Sunday, 17 August 2014

10 reasons why most press releases get binned…

By Liz Coyle-Camp, managing director, E=MC2 Public Relations

As both a PR agency and a publisher, we receive external press releases, many of which go straight into the bin because they don’t pass muster and this is why:

  1. Irrelevance.  One size fits all press releases go in the one-size fits all bin.  Shape your story for the publication you are sending it to – print, online or broadcast. What interests you may not interest your target audience so make sure your story is ‘customer-focused’ which means making it relevant to readers, interesting and helpful.
  2. Spelling and grammatical mistakes.   The fastest way to lose credibility is to send out your press release without spell-checking it for spelling, punctuation and grammatical mistakes and making sure it also makes sense!  Silly things like ‘to’ and ‘too’, ‘it’s’ and ‘its’ used incorrectly are an instant turn-off.
  3. Verbosity. Cut to the chase – you have just a few seconds to grab the editor’s attention. If your story isn’t in plain English in the headline and the first paragraph of your press release, it’s in the bin! Lay-off the acronyms, corporate speak and product jargon too – they will just irritate and alienate your journalist.
  4. Pomposity.  References to I, we, us, or ours don’t belong in a press release unless they are quoted speech. So, if they’re not inside quotation marks, rewrite your sentence. Report the story and don’t taint it with your own subjective spin. Keep your opinions and comments in the quotes – that’s what they are there for.
  5. Puff and fluff.  There is no place for self-serving sales and marketing puff and fluff in a press release. If you want this, buy an advertisement.
  6. Factually incorrect.  Check that your facts are correct and quote your sources. Check your dates too – if you are inviting press to a photocall, make sure the date, time and location of the event is consistent and correct.
  7. No media contact. Make sure you provide your correct phone and email details so the media can reach you.
  8. No boilerplate or website address. This is a short description or an ‘about us’ paragraph about your organisation with your website address so the media know you are for real and can look you up.
  9. Format.  Stick to a press-friendly simple presentation format: 1.5 spacing, Arial or Helvetica sans serif typeface, 11 or 12 point size. Bold your headline, don’t indent and keep your text black.
  10. No images or poor ones. Support your story with a high quality, engaging photo, graphic or artist’s impression which visually tells your story.
If you can avoid these top 10 press release-writing mistakes and follow up your story with a phone call to the journalist (to make sure they have everything they need from you) your story has a very good chance of being used.

Have questions for Liz? Contact her at: E=MC2 Public Relations 01747 871752

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