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Writing a press release? How to avoid 7 common press release pitfalls

At Marketwire, one of our most lauded competitive advantages is the consultative approach that we use in our daily interactions with clients who want to distribute their company news. Marketwire sales, customer service and editorial teams are available to help at every step of the way – from writing the release to submitting it for distribution – to ensure as best they can that your press release is set up for success.

But, because you’re dealing with the media (traditional and social), analysts and bloggers who are on constant information overload, a proper foundation for your press release is an absolute must, to even hope for a glance from their journalistic eyes. They need easy-to-read, digestible and newsworthy content in order to go through the dozens, even hundreds, of press releases they receive on a daily basis.

Here are a few basic but necessary tips to write a press release for those busy audiences:

  1. Proofread your press release –Although our editors proofread every press release that comes into Marketwire, it should be a common practice for you to proofread your own press release as well. Ask another person to read your press release before submitting it. Journalists often use this trick when proofreading their own articles: Read your press release aloud. Not only will you catch grammatical errors, but you will also notice hiccups in style and flow. Don’t forget to use spell-check, but don’t rely on it either.
  2. Avoid being too “sales-y” – The purpose of a press release is to inform your target audience about certain facts involving your company or organization: “Company ABC Acquires XYZ” or “Company ABC Releases New Product to Alleviate Pain.” Your press release is not a platform to blatantly sell your products or services. (Leave that to your advertising teams.) Instead, you are providing information and communicating news to your target audience, however persuasive your tone.
  3. Avoid stuffing your press release with too many keywords – One of the biggest benefits in sending an online press release is its search engine optimization — SEO for short — benefits.  However, a common mistake that people make is overstuffing their news releases with too many keywords in the headline and body.  This is bad SEO practice.  By doing so, you dilute the keyword presence in your release.  Instead, focus on a couple of carefully placed keywords.
  4. Incorporate anchor texts – Anchor texts are one of the best forms of SEO, but are often underused. Search engines use them to form algorithms for search results.  Using keywords in an anchor text, such as “press release distribution [1],” enhances the relevancy of the target page pertaining to the keywords used.  Thus, if you don’t insert anchor texts that link back to your website, you are not utilizing your press release distribution service to its full benefit.You can find additional information and resources on SEO tactics on Marketwire’s Welcome to PR 2.0 [2]microsite. Read sections: Build Keywords and Optimize Concepts and Engage the Media and Consumers.
  5. Maintain consistency — from headline to body – The headline, subhead and body of your news release should seamlessly interconnect to maintain consistency and proper flow. The first sentence should weave into the second, second into the third and so on.  With each sentence, provide a new tidbit of information that relates back to the first, but, in and of itself, can stand on its own.Example:First sentence: Company ABC acquires Company XYZ to form Company 123.

    Second sentence: Through the acquisition, the newly established company will reinvigorate neglected product lines and establish new ones.

    Third sentence: Older products will be redesigned, while concepts for new products will be drawn up as early as March. [It’s also common practice to include a quote in this paragraph to support the information in the release and further explain its newsworthiness.]

    Additionally, the first paragraph of the body should contain the main point, more or less reiterating the headline.  Because many in your target audience receive so many press releases every day, make your point quickly and concisely.

  6. Avoid industry jargon – Write your press release at a 4th-grade reading level and avoid any industry jargon to ensure your news is comprehendible to the majority of your readers. Using “industry speak” can sometimes be a turn-off if readers can’t connect the jargon with the story.
  7. Don’t forget to follow up – Sometimes, the information announced in a press release is so newsworthy that pick-up is almost inevitable and the issuer of that release needs to do very little in order for their release to “make news”  – food or toy recalls, a major shuffle within a company’s board of directors, consumer product launches, etc.  However, best practice dictates that a follow-up email, tweet or (gasp!) phone call can make for a more personal connection between the writer of the release and the intended audience.  Don’t think of distribution as the magic bullet for coverage, but instead, realize that distribution puts your news in front of the journalists, analysts, bloggers and influencers you want to reach.  Building strong, long-lasting relationships with those audiences is up to you.

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