The Top 5 Press Release Pet Peeves (And How to Avoid Them)
Press release pet peeves, press release pet peeves, press release pet peeves… try saying that out loud 3 times fast. For most people, writing a successful and poignant press release can be… well, even harder than saying “press release pet peeves” 3 times fast.
But that’s why we’re here! We’re going to tell you some concrete and easy (although we may be using that word lightly here…) ways to make your press release more effective.
If you’ve been stumped trying to get your big event, grand opening, or new product noticed by your local press, a lot of people can relate. It’s kind of a whole thing.
Thankfully over the years, we’ve learned (the hard way a few times) how to write a killer press release that gets your business noticed and, well, doesn’t peeve the people you’re sending it to.
So, here are the top five biggest press release mistakes (according to us) and what to do instead to catch that journalist’s eye:
1. Not Prioritizing the Title of Your Press Release
It’s easy to discount the importance of a title when you feel the press release speaks for itself, but journalists sift through hundreds of press releases every single day. So it’s SUPER important to grab their attention as soon as possible to avoid being tossed in the “not-newsworthy” pile. Basically, you want to click-bait them, without the click-baity-ness. (Is that a word????? )
The goal of your title should be to make it immediately obvious what audience you’re wanting to reach and why they need this information. PRO TIP: it can be extremely beneficial to update your title depending on the news outlet or audience you’re reaching out to. Your information might be useful to people of all ages, but the title needs to cater to the type of outlet that you’re hoping will share your story.
2. Including the Wrong Amount or Wrong Type of Links
Alright, this is where it gets tricky. You don’t want too many links… or not enough links… or links that don’t further your narrative. (How many times can we say, “links”?) Links are where a lot of people seem to either take it too far or just not put any at all. We’re here to save you from this blunder!
In 2021, press releases should no longer be written as though they’re going to be read off a sheet of printed paper. They’re going to be read digitally, so make them interactive! A great press release will be an interactive experience where the reader can move between reliable links embedded in the document, along with photos and videos that help in educating them.
We suggest using 2-4 links depending on the length and subject matter of your press release. Any more than that, and your hard work begins to look like spam, and your readers no longer take the time to follow any of the links. ????????♀️ It’s also important to be intentional when choosing your links. Before adding any link, make sure it’s relevant to your topic and your target audience, and that it adds value to your story.
When used correctly, links will boost audience engagement AND push more people to your website. (Yay!)
3. Only Using a Distribution Service
There’s definitely value in distribution services. Basically, distribution services work to distribute your press release for you. They allow your press release to end up in the inbox of hundreds of journalists and can lead to tons of backlinks for your website.
Distribution services are becoming less beneficial for small brands because they can get buried in a sea of PR from huge companies.
Instead, try to build relationships with journalists! Send personalized messages to offer product samples, interview quotes, and attached photos with your press release. Journalists love when you give them a story and all the elements they’d need to run with it right away. Try to make their job as easy as possible, and we promise it’ll pay off.
4. Lack of Focus
People often feel rushed when working on a press release, because as we all know, “time is money.” But in reality, a rushed, unfocused press release can be a huge waste of your time because it’s unlikely to ever gain any traction.
Many business owners can struggle to be direct and stay focused on the main goal of the press release. We get it. You’re not a writer, you’re a business owner! That’s ok. Here’s what we suggest: start with an outline that creates a story. The business, product, or event you’re promoting should be secondary to the main goal of creating something that people want to read. You need to have one subject, one idea, and one goal that you’re striving for with every sentence.
If there are multiple aspects that you need to promote, we suggest writing different press releases for optimal results.
5. Not Making it Topical
Is it NEWSWORTHY? Ask yourself this question at every stage of the writing process, because that is the question every journalist is trying to answer before they invest their time. The goal is to step back and look at it from the readers’ eyes. If you weren’t involved in the project or company, what would make you want to read about this topic? What do you think will get people really talking? Your press release must be valuable beyond just your own interests, because if it’s not, you risk damaging your reputation and even blacklisting yourself to journalists. (???? ) This might sound harsh, but they may not ever spend their time reading any of your future press releases as well once you’ve let them down.
So, our best advice is to spend some time reading topical news and try to find a new angle that people aren’t talking about yet. This automatically puts you a few steps ahead of the other 100 press releases in the journalist’s inbox. If you aren’t able to do this, show how a popular industry trend is related (even in a small way) to what you’re doing. There are lots of ways to make something mundane become newsworthy—celebrity endorsement, human interest, novelty/rarity, proximity, and more.
For example, the event at your business might not be newsworthy, so why not give a percentage of proceeds to an organization to a local organization with a great cause? Voilà! NOW people want to learn more about what you’re doing. Plus, you get to help people in the process.
Pro tip: Make sure to give to an organization you genuinely care about and want to support.
In conclusion, our BIGGEST pet peeve is a press release that goes out before it’s ready. A good press release takes tons of time and energy, but when done correctly, they’re more than worth it!
And hey, if this is way over your head or if you need to stay focused on big picture business decisions, we can always help with PR for your next big adventure.