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Press releases remain important elements of any organization’s communication strategy, and yet many companies fail to put sufficient thought, creativity and effort into writing and releasing them. Including enough compelling details to get the story across while using an engaging tone to capture the attention of media outlets and journalists is a delicate balancing act.
Mastering the art of crafting an effective press release is a must for communications professionals. A well-conceived, well-executed press release can help garner exposure for their brand and establish credibility and trust with its target audience, increasing the likelihood of prospects becoming customers.
Here, 12 members of Forbes Agency Council explore some of the biggest mistakes they’ve seen brands make with their press releases to help you avoid a similar fate.
1. Focusing Too Heavily On Themselves
The biggest mistake brands can make is focusing too heavily on themselves, rather than on the news they are trying to get covered. Brands make announcements all the time, so it’s the responsibility of the marketer to make their news stand out by being compelling and valuable to the media. If the release doesn’t contain newsworthy content in the first paragraph, stop and start over. – Brad Zeifman, SHADOW
2. Not Taking Readers On A Journey To ‘Why’
Most press releases have very little “reader value.” They are usually low-quality advertisements that push benefits before prospects are interested. They don’t take the reader on a journey to show why this should be important to them. Instead of thinking of a press release as an advertisement, take the reader on a journey that lands on your company or product and engages them along the way. – Brian D. Evans, Influencive / BDE Ventures
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3. Quoting ‘Excited’ And ‘Proud’ Executives
Throwaway quotes that tell everyone how “excited” and “proud” the executive is that their news is happening never make it into a story and never should. Instead, offer a writer a thoughtful quote on how this accomplishment will impact the market or why this is such a significant development for its key audience—less fluffy, more fact-based sound bites that will show up in a story. – Carm Lyman, Lyman Agency
4. Failing To Prioritize A Press Release’s Promotion
Outside of having an error-filled press release, the biggest mistake made is a lack of promotion. Doing everything in your power to promote your new press release, whether that be through social media, email, various paid media campaigns or spotlighting it on your website, should be a top priority. Otherwise, efforts to obtain coverage in the first place will be negated. – Larry Gurreri, Sosemo LLC
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5. Using A Press Release As A Standalone Tactic
A press release is virtually useless as a standalone tactic, except to generate SEO. A press release needs to be accompanied by a full strategy, targeted press outreach, marketing, media and more. The biggest mistake in generating a press release is assuming it will do anything on its own. – Craig Greiwe, Rogers & Cowan
6. Not Leveraging Embargoes And Exclusives
Timing is everything in media relations. Ensuring that the media outlets have the opportunity to view news in advance is critical to maximizing earned coverage around an announcement. Once the news has crossed the wire, it loses some of its allure for reporters to sit down and file an original story. By going with an embargo (to multiple reporters) or an exclusive (to a single, well-researched reporter and publication) in advance of wire distribution, brands can ensure a successful launch. – Ethan Parker, Treble
7. Not Including Any Actual News
This may seem obvious, but press releases need to contain actual news! They shouldn’t be advertorials for a company, and they need to show how something the company is doing will solve a problem or change the market in some way. Be sure to tell a story, and include relevant angles for various journalists that you pitch in customized pitch notes that accompany the release. – Jodi Amendola, Amendola Communications
8. Not Ensuring The Message Is Clear And The Content Is Edited
Press releases are timely and therefore pushed out quickly in order to make the biggest impact. But it’s far better to take an extra hour to make sure your content is accurate, compelling and proofread than to hastily send a mistake-riddled press release out there for the world to see. Don’t let a few typos cheapen your win. – Bernard May, National Positions
9. Using A Press Release As An Advertisement
Editors will review your press release and decide whether or not to use it based on its newsworthiness. They don’t want to help you promote your brand. Instead, editors want to share newsworthy content with their readers or viewers, so make sure that the release is newsworthy. – Nancy Marshall, Marshall Communications
10. Not Explaining Why This News Matters
Write so that readers know what matters. Press releases announce news that matters to the world, the market, employees, customers and so on. You must explain the news and why it matters to the targeted market segment. The headlines must be clear. You must relay the essence of the story from the headline to the end of the first paragraph. You want the right reader to contact you; don’t tell the whole story. – Jim Caruso, M1PR, Inc. d/b/a MediaFirst PR – Atlanta
11. Mentioning People Who Haven’t Approved Their Inclusion
The biggest mistake is putting out a press release that mentions customers or partners who haven’t approved their inclusion in a press release. The second-biggest mistake is wasting a press release on non-news. The third-biggest mistake is not having a proper media relations strategy mapped out to support a truly newsworthy press release and thinking that the wire service will do the work for you. – Kathleen Lucente, Red Fan Communications
12. Leaving The Journalist Scrambling For Answers
If you would like coverage, it is critical to make the reporter’s job easy. Reporters receive a slew of press releases every day; make yours stand out. The biggest mistake you can make is not proofreading and double-checking your content. Once you submit a press release for distribution, it is not something you can easily take down. – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design
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Author: Expert Panel®, Forbes Councils Member