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Is your news release just an ad for your organization?

[1]By Ryan LeClaire

Your press release is not an ad. Don’t write it like one.

You’re probably guilty of doing this. If so, don’t feel bad. Most people try to write a news release, but end up writing an ad with a dateline. Thousands of them hit the wire every day. Most of them are promptly ignored by newsrooms, writers and social influencers who can see right through them.

“Some writers think that they are writing a sly feature to subtly advertise a product or service but are actually writing a blatant ad. Journalists will not be interested in publishing an advertisement just because it is structured like a feature release,” says Chris Killoran, Editorial Supervisor/Trainer at Marketwire.

Your press release is supposed to garner you some earned media, which means you have to earn it. You need to offer something beyond information about your organization. Give them more than quotes from you, about you.

To combat this, try positioning yourself as a subject matter expert, or a problem solver. Don’t say you’re an industry expert, offer some expertise.

“The distinction is, ‘Tired of a Rusty Car? We Have the Perfect Product for You’ (a blatant ad), and ‘Five Ways to Keep the Rust Off Your Car.’ Most articles seem to get more traction if they focus on genuine concerns and helpful, general solutions rather than their product,” says Killoran.

It’s also important to keep your language plain and not too “salesy.” Using terms like “Groundbreaking new product” or “exciting industry leader” is a good way to get your content flagged as an ad disguised in a press release costume.

Press release writing is different than any type of marketing copywriting you will ever do—and needs to be treated that way. If the same verbiage appears in your sales ad and your press release, it’s time to change one of them.

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