September 26, 2015
/ by Katie Gaab
PR professionals have seen their go-to tools and tactics change, especially over the past few years. Gone are the days of fax machines.
Despite the changing environment and increasing use of technology, one skill remains as relevant as ever: knowing how to write press releases.
Reap the benefits of distributing your company’s news by reminding yourself what to avoid. Here are five mistakes to steer clear of when writing your next press release and advice on what to do instead:
When a company releases a new product or reaches a long-term goal, its employees often want to shout the news from every mountaintop. As tempting as writing in all caps or boasting in long-block quotes may be, don’t write in a way that sounds like you’re yelling.
Keep reporters and prospective customers’ interest by writing in a neutral, third-person tone.
Furthermore, product-specific jargon or internal lingo should be kept in the office. Think of who you’re trying to reach and set your tone accordingly.
Want to know how to attract coverage with your press release? Get the PR Starter Kit today!
If you start every press release off with a company history lesson, stop immediately. Don’t make readers dig around for details surrounding your company’s news like a needle in a haystack.
The longer it takes for you to answer the 5 W’s (Who, What, Where, When and Why) of your news announcement, the less effective your press release will be.
Readers may be curious about where your headquarters are located, but their main interest in looking at your press release is to find out what’s new. Save your history for the boilerplate.
If someone emailed you a 3,000-word press release, would you read it from beginning to end? Probably not. Less is more, especially in today’s fast-paced digital world.
Think of your press release copy as a three-tiered wedding cake. Start with the detailed news announcement, fill up the body with a few solid quotes from a company spokesperson and end with a boilerplate that summarizes what your company brings to your industry. Direct readers to your company’s website for more information should you have more to say.
What’s the point of announcing the launch of a new product if you don’t link to where prospective customers can purchase it?
Linking to one or two of your company’s keywords can be helpful in driving traffic back to your website, but avoid making every other line turn blue. Stick to one link per 150 words to avoid looking over-promotional.
Finally, always triple check that your URLs are live before your press release goes out.
If you forget to include up-to-date contact information, you’ve essentially blown any chance you had of getting media coverage out of the water. Another huge mistake? Listing your company’s general telephone number.
Choose a specific person to take on any media inquiries to put a name to your news. Basic press releases include a name, telephone number and email address, but with the increasing influence of social media on communication, all of your channels should be included as well.
Images: Nic McPhee, Francisco Gonzalez, Tracy Hunter (Creative Commons)
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