Don’t Look Back in Press Release Anger
November 30, 2012
We’re all professional writers so we can admit the unspoken truth that sometimes, some of the press releases we see and read just aren’t up to the job. In fact, for some we could just as easily say most.
This is a problem for the industry as a whole because the plethora of badly written, shoddily assembled releases drag down our perfectly crafted, intelligent and intelligible calls to action and vital news reports!
The reasons why press releases have been dragged down in public and PR esteem can be summarized into four main categories of calamity:
Links, Links, Links
At some point in the early development of the internet, PR professionals and writers realized that as well as being their main vehicle for news and information, press releases were also an excellent method to build links back to their website and boost their search engine rankings. The trouble was like most useful tools, they were abused almost immediately.
The outcome was that the awful, unintelligible content is pretty much unreadable and only there just to support the link. Fortunately Google’s recent Panda update means that these releases are now well and truly on the way out.
Everything including the Kitchen Sink
Some press release writers feel the need to include every single detail in their release to give the audience and reporters all of the the information they need to produce a story. But if you subscribe to this school of release writing then why bother putting notes to editors and contact details in the release at all? If they want to feature your story then they will contact you so just give them the sexy, important facts and save the details for your personal one-to-one conversation.
Every industry from PR to Peanut farming and painting has its own share of jargon, shorthand phrases and buzzwords but they are for your and your colleagues benefit, not the public and the media so bear this in mind and use sparingly if at all!
Know your format
Headline – check, subhead – check, news in first paragraph – check etc. Too many press release writers, especially if they are pushing a deadline will try to cram their news and information into the tried and tested formula they know and throw their natural creativity and verve out of the window. The end result is a bland, formulaic release that does nobody any favors – let alone the poor press release writer who is trying to get attention for their story.
If you can keep alert and avoid these common press release traps then you will be writing zippy, exciting and readable releases which will help raise the bar for us all.