Press releases remain to be a valuable tool for businesses to promote their story and reach their goals. However, self-promotion, no format, wrong headline, inaccurate information and other errors can ruin your campaign and worst your brand reputation.
Make it easy for journalists to write your story. Avoid these common errors to produce ready-to-publish releases:
1. A Boring Headline.
No one is going to be interested with a boring headline. It is the first thing that would persuade the audience to click to a story and read.
If your headline isn’t catchy at all, journalists are just going to ignore it. Ensure that it is succinct, interesting and provides a good background of your story. Avoid jargons and clichés as much as possible. Keep it punchy and witty.
In addition, it should be kept within 70 characters long. Search engines like Google chops off words after the limit. Place the keyword within the first three words for optimization.
If the headline would make the journalist stop and open your story, you have a good chance that they may cover it. Of course, their decision would still depend on how your content was written overall.
2. Wrong Lede.
The lede (lead) is the first paragraph a journalist see. It should answer the what, who, where, when, why and how of the story.
Place the key information straight in the first paragraph. Be quick. If journalists don’t see it right away, they will not spend more time checking it.
They will simply move away and look for other newsworthy content to cover. It’s a common mistake writers do when they spread the key information within the release.
The right lede should contain the main information. It should be complete.
A lot of marketers, writers and PR professionals are guilty about this. They focus too much on their brand, without thinking that a release should concentrate more on their audience.
If you are sharing the news about your expansion, collaboration or a new award, how does it benefit them? Although this is about you, a release should be more about your customers.
No one will express their interest to a content that is only benefiting a company. Always place yourself in their shoes, and focus on them.
4. Lifting a Copy from Your Site.
Copying a couple of lines from your website is a bad idea and doesn’t work. We know it’s very tempting and easy since it was your copy but a unique take would be the best.
An article or a content written for newsletters or your site should only remain there. Don’t use it for your releases.
Once journalists find out that you lifted a line there, they will begin to doubt your credibility. Be original. Don’t be lazy to write a release from scratch.
5. Wrong Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation.
Before sending your release to journalists or publications or newswire, make sure that you have run a grammar checker. If you can have someone to edit it, do it.
There’s no room for errors. Avoid grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes. Journalists expect to write your story, without much editing. In short, present a ready-to-publish copy.
Check your word usage, grammar, subject-verb agreement and sentence structure. Your release should be like news.
If you aren’t sure about your release and it’s always a problem, hire someone to write it for you. Editing is part of the process before submission. You don’t want to send it, without making sure it’s polished.
6. Pitching to Wrong People.
After writing your release, pitching it to reporters not relevant to you is going a waste of time. They aren’t going to pick your story, so why waste your and their time?
Reporters have their own beat. If your field is technology, make sure that you are reaching out to reporters who cover the same niche.
There’s no sense of pitching to those who aren’t going to write it. Before writing, study who are most likely to give you coverage. There are a lot of online tools that can help you with the information.
Research is the key. Find out who among the reporters are writing the same stories. Look for information and read their recent articles.
7. Weak Quotes.
Make quotes useful for reporters. They can change this anytime if they don’t find quotes relevant or effective in your content.
Quotes provide a human element to help readers connect to your story instantly. Maintain it upbeat, on point and positive.
Aside from the human element, it provides credibility to your claims. When audiences know that someone affected by the news, especially someone in authority is speaking about the topic, they easily trust their opinions.
When adding quotes, don’t add information. It is designed to offer insights or point of view of the person speaking. Provide proper attribution.
Oftentimes, when reporters find it weak, they would change it. They may arrange with the media contact for an interview with the source persons.
8. Too Many Caps Lock.
Some PR professionals are guilty of using too many caps in the content. It looks unprofessional, devious and old.
Why are you going to use caps lock to highlight your brand name or features of your product? It looks questionable why you are going to highlight it. Without highlighting it, reporters are going to read your content anyway if they find it newsworthy.
Don’t waste their time. They aren’t going to edit it by changing it back to lowercase. Besides, you don’t need to use the upper case just to highlight words like your company name.
9. Too Short or Too Long.
Releases should be between 300 and 500 words. Don’t make it too short that it already lack information. Journalists should see the key facts and supporting details in your content.
Always make sure that the basic information is covered in the beginning. Aside from writing a release that is too short, your release should not be too lengthy.
Do not go beyond 500 words. It is not the standard length in newsprint and magazines. Always be on point.
Avoid words that aren’t necessary that only make your release longer. Provide links where your audience can get more information. The links should lead to a landing page on your site.
10. It Has No Value.
As public relations experts always emphasize, releases should be newsworthy. It should always provide value to the readers.
What do you think your audience would get from you? Your release should offer new information, tips, advices, a solution to an issue they have or results to a study that can help improve their lives like https://www.newswire.com/features/distribution.
If your story doesn’t have a value proposition, it is impossible for you to get publicity. Journalists aren’t going to pick your story if it is too business-centric.
Always answer the question, “Why they should care?” If you can answer this based on your content, go for it. Continue writing.
However, if the story is just focused on your business, without considering your target audience, it’s useless. Highlight the benefits that your audience would get right from the headline.
A release should not be stuffed with exclamation points, adjectives and unsupported claims. Once journalists spot these, your pitch will automatically get deleted.
Avoid exclamation points as it looks like you are shouting to your readers. It is informal and unprofessional form of writing.
Moreover, don’t use too much adjectives. It looks spammy. Furthermore, the story will look like an advertisement.
12. Too Traditional
Gone are the days of traditional releases. If you need to send reporters a sample product to provide them a better way of writing your story, do so.
Today, audiences are looking for better ways to consume stories. Include images, video and infographics that make your content interesting and engaging. Send journalists your complete multimedia assets, such as that also include campaign URLs and pull-out quotes.
13. Keyword Stuffing
A journalist can sense right away that your content looks and sounds unnatural. Don’t stuff it with keywords that it already sound and look unusual.
Don’t add too many keywords. Search engines like Google penalize sites that go overboard with keywords on their content. It can hurt your rank and your reputation as a brand.
Use keywords only when necessary. If it sounds odd, don’t force it.
It’s also the same with links. Google also penalize sites that abuse links, and don’t use “nofollow” links on their content. Releases can no longer be used to get backlinks.
Instead of using too many keywords and links, use search terms and phrases that can be replaced instead of keywords. Go easy on these terms.
Moreover, use only one to two links in your content. Make sure that it lands on the proper page on your site. Hyperlink on keywords and not on generic terms.
There are a lot more mistakes that marketers do when writing and distributing releases. Sometimes, you would only discover mistakes when it happens to you.
Make sure that you avoid these errors to increase your chance of getting publicity. Keep track of these mistakes to prevent it from happening on your future releases.