A press release serves as the foundation of any company’s successful PR strategy, but it’s important to be aware of the potential press release mistakes that can destroy all the hard work put into building a strong PR strategy. While businesses distribute press releases to earn positive media coverage for their brand, they often fall short due to common mistakes such as lacking a newsworthy angle, writing a poor headline, or being overly promotional.
In the past decade, press releases have undergone significant transformations alongside technological advancements. Previously, PR relied heavily on media professionals to create stories, but now, companies have the opportunity to develop their own content and distribute it through their channels.
In this article, we will explore some common press release mistakes and provide insights on how to avoid them, whether you are a novice or an experienced writer.
1. Neglecting to include a newsworthy angle
One of the most common mistakes companies make when crafting a press release is assuming that any news valuable to them is automatically relevant to their target audience or journalists. However, this assumption is not always accurate, and it’s crucial to ensure that your story angles are genuinely newsworthy. Failure to do so may lead journalists to overlook your press release, potentially damaging your reputation and diminishing the chances of future press coverage.
To overcome this mistake, it is essential to determine the goal of your press release and then develop a newsworthy angle accordingly. If you have multiple goals, prioritize them or consider creating separate press releases for different target audiences. The key is to understand your target audience thoroughly and identify the type of content that will resonate with them the most.
It’s crucial to tell a story that is fresh, exciting, and addresses something that people outside your company will genuinely care about. If your story meets these criteria, then it is worth being written. Otherwise, it’s advisable to revisit your ideas and develop a new story angle.
2. Ignoring proper writing style and format
Consistency in writing style and format is essential to avoid confusion and ensure clarity in any form of writing, including press releases. Experts recommend following the Associated Press (AP) style for press releases, as it helps journalists easily comprehend and cover the story without any confusion caused by unconventional formats. As the world’s largest news organization, the Associated Press sets the industry standard for writing news-style content, making it advisable to adhere to their guidelines.
A press release written in AP style should maintain consistent formatting. If you are uncertain about how to do this, it’s advisable to read and follow guides on writing press releases and ensure correct formatting. Using a template can also help you maintain standard formatting. Additionally, seeking the expertise of PR professionals who have experience in creating press releases and other newsworthy content can provide valuable guidance.
Pressfarm, a PR agency specializing in helping startups and established companies, provides services to create various types of content, including email pitches, press releases, guest posts, and press kits. This content can be distributed to media professionals or through company channels. Moreover, their extensive media database, consisting of over 1 million media contacts, provides companies with the opportunity to connect with relevant journalists in any industry or niche.
With Pressfarm’s PR packages, you can access a personalized media list created by their account executives, helping you gain the desired media coverage. By partnering with Pressfarm, your online visibility will be boosted, ensuring your brand appears in relevant search results across various search engines.
3. Underestimating the importance of titles/headlines
A media professional typically spends just a few seconds reviewing a press release before deciding whether to cover the story. This highlights the critical role of good headlines in making a strong first impression. Since journalists won’t extensively search through your press release for important details, the headline needs to be concise and captivating.
To create an enticing title, you should:
- Address a pressing question or issue related to your story.
- Keep the headline relevant to the content of your press release.
- Make it intriguing to grab the reader’s attention.
- Use an active voice to add impact.
- Keep it brief, ideally within 100 characters.
A journalist needs to immediately understand why your story is valuable to their readers. Highlighting the most crucial aspect of your news article in the headline is essential. This ensures that the title reflects the newsworthy angle, as journalists are more likely to publish stories that have a significant impact.
Additionally, focus on a trending or revolutionary story angle within your narrative, incorporating industry-related keywords that are currently trending. You can also mention the involvement of influential figures or experts in your industry to make your story more appealing. Remember, you have only five seconds to capture a reader’s attention, so keeping your title concise and impactful is vital.
4. Using quotes that sound like clickbait
Including quotes within a press release adds a human perspective to an objective news story. Ideally, these quotes should present a positive image of your business and be authentic rather than self-promotional. Quotes in a press release should provide media professionals with valuable and objective insights.
The absence of quotes might encourage journalists to seek alternative stories that are ready for publication. Providing accurate and meaningful quotes increases the chances of journalists publishing your press releases, especially when working with deadline-driven journalists.
When using quotes, ensure they are inspiring and avoid adding flattering adjectives or complicated jargon. Quotes should not merely rephrase the contents of your press release. Instead, they should provide additional details that have not been covered yet.
A good quote should be conversational, genuine, and unique. You may also consider including quotes from unbiased sources, such as industry analysts or experts, to add a more journalistic touch to your press release. For example, if your press release announces a new product launch, reach out to an industry analyst who can explain how the product positively impacts the industry.
5. Forgetting to include valuable links
While links within a press release may not offer significant search engine optimization (SEO) value, they provide benefits for journalists, businesses, and their target audience. For instance, if your company is responding to a crisis in your community, you can include a link to a website where updates about your response plan are posted in real-time. Similarly, if your release focuses on a new product launch, providing a link to a landing page can offer audiences the opportunity to learn more about the product.
Links in a press release can not only provide readers with additional information but also help attract leads, track the performance of the press release, and increase the chances of media coverage. Additionally, providing links increases your chances of success if you are trying to build backlinks to your website.
When including links in a press release, it’s important not to overload it with too many links. Ideally, limit the number of links to around two or three. Furthermore, ensure that the links provide genuine value to the readers. Instead of solely focusing on what benefits your business, include links that offer relevant additional value appreciated by your target audience. Additionally, choose anchor text that is relevant to the subject covered in the press release.
6. Forgetting about the audience
A press release is not an advertisement; it’s about conveying information that your target audience finds interesting. By prioritizing the end reader’s needs and providing assistance to journalists, you can create a news story rather than a promotional piece about your brand. Journalists are unlikely to write an advertisement, but they are more likely to cover an important story that their readers should know.
When writing a press release, always explain to journalists why their audience would be interested in your news. For example, if you are announcing a new product launch, instead of simply telling journalists how great your product is, offer them something of value that they can pass on to their readers, such as a free product giveaway or a demonstration.
By offering added value to journalists and their audience, you encourage journalists to delve deeper into your story and report it objectively, rather than simply regurgitating biased opinions.
7. Not including multimedia elements
Many journalists and media professionals understand that incorporating visual elements is crucial to capturing and retaining audience attention. According to PR Newswire, approximately 71% of journalists frequently or consistently use multimedia in their stories. Press releases that include images receive 1.4 times more views than text-only releases, while press releases with videos earn 2.8 times more views.
To enhance the appeal of your press release, consider providing multimedia content without being prompted by journalists. By including one or two relevant images, you save journalists time and increase the likelihood of them publishing your content. Ensure that the multimedia content you provide is original and offers value to the readers of the journalists’ publications.
8. Failing to target the press release
Sending out a large number of press release pitches without targeting them is a surefire way to have your release end up in a journalist’s spam folder, unread. Instead of taking a blanket approach, it’s crucial to tailor your press release to specific journalists or outlets that are relevant to your story.
Before sending out your press release, carefully select the journalists and media outlets that align with your target audience and the subject matter of your release. Personalize your pitches by highlighting why your story is relevant to their readership. By targeting your press release, you increase the chances of it being read and considered for publication, as journalists are more likely to engage with content that is tailored to their interests.
9. Not making the press release shareable
A press release that is shareable on social media allows readers and journalists to spread the word about your company’s story. Adding instant Tweet functionality, making quotes brief but meaningful, including multimedia, and including social sharing buttons are all things you can do to make your news more shareable.
Embed a Click to Tweet link to quotes that can stand on their own and still be valuable. This connection opens a box that highlights the quote and includes a “Click to Tweet” button. When users click the link, it takes them to their Twitter profiles. Here, a Tweet with the quote is automatically created. From there, it’s just a matter of posting.
Secondly, you can make your content more shareable by using quotations or facts that can be posted directly on social media profiles. This means keeping quotes or figures under 280 characters to avoid readers needing to edit them before posting on social media sites like Twitter. Last but not least, you should add social share buttons to the press release. This both invites readers to share the content and makes it easier for them to do so.
10. Only using one distribution method
There are many ways to distribute a press release, each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. For example, a delivery service may help a company get its news out to the general public without targeting key journalists who can help the business now and in the future.
Keep in mind that each method of delivering a press release via delivery service, social media, and customized email pitches has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. For this reason, combining more than one method might yield the best results.
11) Not tracking performance
Analytics can help you learn if you have met the goals for your press release. Additionally, they can give you insight on how you can improve future press releases for better results. They can also give you audience information that helps you to retarget and better promote your press release.
You may set various business objectives for your publication such as enhancing brand morale, boosting brand awareness, or increasing website traffic. Similarly, press release analytics reports monitor metrics.
Such metrics include how many shares your release received and which media outlets picked it up. They should also include how many clicks the press release earned to your website and brand sentiment. As a result, metrics help you determine if your release was worthwhile or whether you should tweak your approach in the future.
You should also pay attention to how people interact with a single press release. If journalists clung to a single quote and used it in all of their reports about the release, you should take note of what set that quote apart from the others. Then, when sourcing quotes for potential updates, aim to match those elements. However, by distributing only one press release, you might not gain much insight into what works and what doesn’t.
Once you’ve distributed a few releases, you can compare metrics and see what works and what doesn’t. Finally, many press release analytics reports provide details about the people who read the press releases. Ages, wages, preferences (industry publications they read, for example), marital status, and location are all factors to consider. Use this data to help with retargeting your future campaigns.
Over to you
Avoiding these common press release mistakes is crucial for achieving successful media coverage and building a strong brand reputation. By understanding the newsworthy angle of your story, utilizing proper writing style and format, crafting compelling headlines, providing authentic and valuable quotes, including relevant links, considering the audience, incorporating multimedia elements, and targeting your press releases, you can enhance your chances of garnering media attention and effectively communicating your brand’s message to the world.