Thursday, March 1st, 2012
As a writer, most press releases make me cringe when I read them. I feel like my soul dies a little bit with each one that I read. The simple fact is that most press releases are painfully difficult to read. Here are 5 reasons why.
- They offer nothing that’s truly newsworthy—It seems that many people have forgotten the original purpose of the press release—to share news. These days, companies crank out press releases at a feverish pace, but they rarely have any true news to share. Sending out a press release that you’ve added a blog to your website really isn’t all that interesting to anyone outside of your company. Before you write a press release, ask yourself honestly, “Who cares?
If you don’t think anyone else will care to hear your “news” then it’s probably not worth sharing.
- They’re littered with buzzwords—I swear, some companies must use this B.S. Generator to write their press releases, because they’re brimming with buzzwords like leading, implement, best in class, innovative, end-to-end, and revolutionary. I HATE BUZZWORDS. They’re pure B.S. that carries no real weight.
- They include lifeless, uninspired quotes—Take a look at just about any press release, and I can promise you it will contain a quote from a company executive that adds absolutely nothing to the story. The quotes used in press releases are often pre-manufactured, buzzword-laden, repetitive nonsense that offer nothing new or no insight into the issue being discussed.
- They’re little more than an advertisement for the company—Remember how I said the purpose of a press release is to share news? News is the keyword here. News is supposed to be factual and unbiased. It’s not supposed to read like an infomercial for your products and services.
- They’ve become a slave to the search engines—Several years ago, search marketers began to realize that online press release distribution could be an effective tool for link building and increasing search rankings. So, the press releases started coming out in droves, laden with keywords in the headlines, subheads, links, and body. The quality of the average press release declined even further because companies were solely cranking them out to satisfy the search engines.
Do you still send out press releases? Are you guilty of any of the above transgressions?
Tuesday, January 10th, 2012
Press releases still serve a very important PR and marketing purpose. Whether you distribute them online or email them to reporters and bloggers, the goal is the same—to get your news read by as many people as possible.
In order to achieve this goal, you need to write better press releases, because the sad truth is most press releases just suck. Here are 4 ways you can write better press releases.
- Find a unique angle—The average reporter is bombarded with press releases all day long. They’re probably receiving press releases from your competitors too. That means it’s crucial that you do something to make your press release stand out from the crowd. The same old, tired, straightforward press release about a bland topic no one outside of your company cares about just won’t cut it. You need to find a fresh approach to your stories to make them more relevant and more compelling.
- Don’t write to the template—Nearly every press release looks the exact same. The headlines are the same, the opening paragraphs are the same, the buzzwords are the same, and the dull, lifeless quotes are the same. If you want to distribute a press release that gets noticed, you have to steer clear of the paint-by-numbers style of press release writing.
- Know thy audience—Who is going to be reading your press release? Reporters? Buyers? Investors? Affiliates? Customers? Know your audience, and write your news in a way that appeals to their main interests.
- Edit. Edit. Edit.—Too many press releases are filled with fluff. That is, they contain irrelevant, useless information that does nothing but boost the word count. Your readers, no matter who they are, are pressed for time. They just need the main points of your story quickly and clearly. Anything that doesn’t need to be in the press release should be cut out. Get rid of the buzzwords and industry jargon while you’re at it.
What press release writing tips would you add to this list? Share them by leaving a comment below.
Wednesday, December 14th, 2011
Thanks to the SEO press release, a lot of people seem to have forgotten that press releases can actually be sent to reporters with the hope of getting media coverage for your company. For those of us who actually still send press releases to the media, it’s inevitable to run into situations where no one bites on your story. Understanding why your press releases are unsuccessful is important for helping you write better ones in the future.
Here are 4 possible reasons that a press release might not get picked up.
- The headline failed to grab attention—Journalists are bombarded with press releases on a daily basis. The dirty little secret is that most press releases don’t even get read—they end up in the trash bin (virtual or real). Why is that? It’s because a lot of journalists glance at the headline to decide whether or not to continue reading. If the headline isn’t compelling, your story probably won’t get read. You really need to focus your efforts on writing clear, powerful headlines that grab the reader’s interest and force them to check out the rest of your press release.
- It reads like an advertisement—You’re supposed to be sharing actual news, not just a thinly-veiled advertisement of your products and services. Unfortunately, the number of press releases that read like advertisements only seems to have increased thanks to shady online press release distribution websites.
- Nobody outside of your company cares about the news—Most of the stuff that companies try to pass off as news is so trivial and boring that I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at how pointless the press release is. For the most part, no one cares if you just launched a new blog, hired a new employee, or updated something minor on your website. Be honest with yourself when writing your press releases, asking “Who really cares?” If you don’t see anyone outside of your company giving a hoot about the story, best to bury it.
- You sent it to the wrong people—Just like in all other aspects of marketing, the quality of your contact list matters quite a bit. If you don’t send your press releases to the reporters who would actually be interested in covering your story, you’re just wasting your time. Build a list of highly targeted reporters, and make sure you keep it updated as reporters are constantly being shifted in their assignments.
What are some other common reasons for ineffective press releases? Share your thoughts below by leaving a comment.