Press releases: Here’s what you’re doing wrong

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There is nothing more frustrating that crafting a press release that goes nowhere.

Some stories make the news, some stories don’t. It’s an unfortunate fact. Sometimes the elements are just against you—but other times, you may have dropped the ball.

Here’s what you could be doing wrong:

It’s a misfire!

We’ve said it lots of times on the MediaHQ blog: You always have to do your homework before sending a press release to a bunch of journalists.

You have to be sure you are targeting the right people: Unless it’s relevant, don’t send an education story to a beauty columnist. It’s sounds like PR For Dummies, but you would be amazed at how many misfired press releases land in journalists’ overcrowded inboxes every day.

Our research team updates our contacts database on a daily basis to ensure our clients don’t send their press releases to the wrong journalists.

There’s just no story

Unless you have a story to tell, nobody will pick up on your release.

Journalists are expected to inform and entertain the public. They are all about the story so your press release must be newsworthy and must have a clear lead.

Press releases should be written in the style of a news article: Eye-catching headline, strong introductory paragraph with detail in following paragraphs. Remember the five Ws of your story and use the inverted pyramid.

You’ve used jargon

Journalists are trained to be cynical. They are always painfully aware that a PR pro is trying to promote an organisation or a range of products.

Nothing turns a journalist off a story more than a press release laced with exaggerations and jargon. Don’t oversell yourself. You may consider it industry lingo, but to a journalist it is just a load of marketing guff.

You want to interest them in your story, so the story is main concern.

Your quote is unbelievably dull

This is the part of all press releases where PR pros truly get to show off their creative side.

Quotes can breathe life into a press release. They add the human element to your story, which always interests journalists.

If you are battling with a difficult approval process, tell senior management that you believe it is better to seek forgiveness than ask for approval (something of a motto at MediaHQ). They should trust their PR team to do their job and trust that you will maintain your CEO’s integrity—and ensure they get their voice heard in the media.