http://www/PublicityHound.com Press releases are one of the most important tools in your publicity kit.
Many DIY promoters think journalists, bloggers and others will be insulted if you call what you are writing by the wrong name. Truth is, they don’t care what you call it, as long as it’s interesting. Today, we write press releases primarily to reach consumers directly online and bypass the media. Consumers can find the releases through the search engines. They can read the release, click through to our website and buy something. So even if journalists think the press release isn’t worth their time and attention, it might attract the attention of consumers. Surveys have shown that journalists spend only five seconds reading a release before deciding whether to use it or toss it. So if you’re sending it to a news outlet, it should be compelling, interesting and newsy.
If you’re writing your press release primarily for consumers, however, it doesn’t necessarily have to include news. For example, you can write press releases even when you have no news to announce.
Authors who want book publicity might excerpt tips from their books and use them within the press release. Or you might write about how to use a product or service you offer. Be sure to include the link at your website where people can buy it. These things are far more important than whether you call it a press release, a news release or a media release:
– -Including wrong information, particularly telephone numbers, addresses, or links. Releases must be complete, accurate and specific. Have someone proofread them.
– -Writing too long if the release is being sent to the media. They should be no longer than about 750 words. If posting a release through a press release distribution site, you can write longer.
– -Distributing them too late. You must know the deadlines of various media where you want coverage. Local newspapers, for example, might want the release two weeks before your event. But if you want to get into a national magazine that has long lead times, you may have to send it six months in advance. If you’re not sure of deadlines, call and ask.
–Blatant commercialism. Avoid hackneyed words and phrases such as spectacular, incredible, the only one of its kind, breakthrough, cutting-edge, unique and state-of-the-art.
– -Omitting a contact name, phone number or email address. At the top of the first page in the left corner, let editors know who they can call if they have questions. Watch the video I created that explains the six parts of a press release at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pl5we3mxdKg
–Calling or emailing right after you send a release and asking questions like “Did you get my news release?” Or “Do you know when it will be printed?” These questions will brand you as a pest. Don’t follow up with a phone call to see if the media got your release, unless you are absolutely sure that someone will check for you. Most don’t have time. If you do follow up, make sure you have a reason to call. Suggest a particular angle to your story, or ask the media if they need any other information. Sign up for my free weekly newsletter, filled with tips like these, at http://publicityhound.com/tips/
Other Mistakes to Avoid:
–Using outdated media reference books. Even if you’re using the most current books, double-check to see if the person to whom you are sending the release still works there, and that the address is the same. A release sent to an editor who died 10 years ago eventually will be routed to the right person, but they’ll think you don’t care about the publication or who works there.
– -Sending the same press release to more than one department at the same media outlet without letting both journalists know that you are doing so. One newspaper I worked at unknowingly printed the same press release three times in different sections of the paper, on the same day.
–Sending a journalist a photo that lacks identification. Photos should include the photo subject’s name, title and company.
–Forgetting to give the booth number if you’re writing about a new product that is being featured at a trade show.
–Sending the press release by snail-mail when the media outlet prefers email. (Most do.)
–Emailing press releases as attachments. Include the press release in the body of the email. Or, you can email a short message to the recipient, explaining what the release is about, and then include a link to the press release.
–Sending a press release as a zipped file that must be downloaded and unzipped. Take my free press release writing course at http://publicityhound.com/prwriting/.
For 75 news release samples that show various press release formats, get Mickie Kennedy’s free Big Book of Press Releases at http://www.ereleases.com/insider/freebooksPH.html (affiliate link)