Mistakes You Can’t Afford To Make When You Write A Press Release
Copyright © Paul Hartunian.
It’s a real shame. If you open most any newspaper in the country you’ll find at least one story you know really didn’t need to be there. It just isn’t that relevant or interesting. But somehow it made it in.
You can’t help but wonder if it just happened to be one of those days when absolutely nothing worth mentioning happened to any one of the 6 billion inhabitants of this planet. And you know that isn’t true either.
Nothing made it to the news because tons of people around the world made the first, worst mistake in announcing a news story.
They had information that people around their community, across their country or around the world would love to know. They came up with an idea that could revolutionize an industry, but gave up because the mainstream assured them the only way the press would listen would be through the very expensive advertising department. But that’s far from true.
Where advertising might cost you money, news typically costs the newspaper, radio or television station plenty of money to gather. They pay reporters, correspondents, wire services and anybody else they can find for good news stories. If you have a great story to tell, they’re more than willing to accept a freebee.
But it needs to be in the right format, while following certain industry standards. You can find plenty of free advice on how to format a press release at my web site, located at: http://www.PressReleasesMadeEasy.com.
If you’re looking for a complete, extensive course on the subject, you can find it at my site on line at http://www.Hartunian.com/prkit. Among the advice you’ll find there, here are some of the other reasons why great news stories never get noticed:
1. Many great press releases get tossed, unread, because they’re too long. A program director or editor going through a stack of press releases won’t typically stop to read that 5-page essay on why some business thinks they have a great product.
Most press releases are double-spaced and fit on a single page. If you can’t get your entire message in that space, then you might want to consider hiring a professional writer.
Getting past the fluff and color and getting down to the story is an art. It’s worth developing, or at worst, paying someone else who already has, for their help.
2. Another reason a lot of the press releases are never read is because they’re obviously self-serving. You may feel your new product is the hottest thing going, but will someone else buy a newspaper to listen to you brag? Remember, editors and program managers are in the news business.
If you can’t spin what you have to say in such a way as to make it sound just as fascinating or useful as that juicy stuff about the upcoming election or that tragedy in the Middle East then chances are it won’t make the cut.
3. Many great stories are missed because they come too well packaged. A dozen roses or even fancy letterhead are surefire ways to slap a big sign across the front of a press release that reads “AMATEUR”. Forget about the bribes. Editors know to watch out for fancy packaging. It typically reflects a story that needs a lot of fact verification and may or may not accurately reflect something it promises.
Simple white paper with the correct traditional headline and format is usually a simple way to make it to the “A” list on the editors desk.
4. Timing can make or break a good story. Obviously, announcing your new “Santa’s Village” that includes $2 million dollars worth of animation and the ultimate Disney-style drive through cars would be a waste of time if it arrived on an editors desk in the middle of January.
If at all possible, timing your releases correctly can ad up to a good solid foot inside the proverbial newsroom door. Many people are in a rush to get their press release out. I understand. It’s exciting. You just wrote your masterpiece. Now you want the media people to acknowledge it by calling you for interviews.
But hold on as best you can and consider whether or not you are sending it out at the best possible time. That could be the difference between getting the interview or not.
Obviously this list isn’t extensive. There’s probably as many “insider tips” as there are insiders, but following these 4 suggestions will definitely put your press release up there in the top 10% or so of “good guys” that get a decent chance turning into an interview.