Securing coverage in the media remains one of the best ways of raising the profile of a business or organisation.
But, sadly, many businesses have not mastered the art of writing press releases which will interest journalists.
You might spend hours honing the copy and emailing it to local newspapers and trade magazines but in many cases you won’t hear anything back.
Sometimes a journalist will instantly delete your email because it is seen as heavily promotional and not sufficiently newsworthy for editorial coverage.
I could write an entire book here on how to write great press releases but if you cut out certain mistakes then you have an excellent chance of being featured in the press.
There are many reasons why newspapers and magazines decide not to carry your news and here are three of the biggest ones:
You’ve baffled the journalist by using industry talk and phrases only someone working in your industry would understand.
If you read any newspaper story you’ll notice it is written in plain English. Tell your news as though you are explaining it to someone who knows nothing about your industry.
Using trade terms might work in a magazine which covers your sector but even then it is advisable to write your press release using simple language. It can always be dressed up and edited by the journalist who handles it.
2 Quotes using words no one would ever use
The quotes supplied in a press release can often make or break it. And the key here is to use words which someone would use in everyday speech.
For example –
John Smith, CEO of Better Buys Supermarkets, said: “We commenced this new project back in December. I am most gratified by the response of our patrons to it.”
No one would ever talk like this, not even the poshest aristocrat!
Mr Smith should have been quoted as saying:
“We began the project back in December. I am really pleased with the response of our customers to it.”
3 Continued mention of the company name
The sole reason a journalist is likely to use your press release is that the news is interesting and not because of the business it has originated from, however wonderful it may be.
The name of your organisation should be name-checked early in the article. And then never mentioned again, if at all possible.
Here is an example of a badly written press release:
Jerrybuilt Builders has started work on a new development of 55 family homes on the outskirts of Oxdown. A team of construction workers from Jerrybuilt Builders were on site early this morning. A spokesperson for Jerrybuilt Builders said the scheme was expected to take 10 months to complete.
It only needed saying at the start that Jerrybuilt Builders was the building firm involved. Continued use of the company name is likely to plant a negative seed in a journalist’s mind that you are merely seeking free publicity for the business rather than telling an important community story.
If you need help writing press releases for your business or organisation please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org