Journalists today get hundreds of press releases per day, spanning all topics and industries. Because of this, they scan releases quickly in their rush for news and may overlook a release that isn’t spam, but has tell-tale spam indicators. Don’t want your release to get thrown out with the rest? Here are 8 quick ways to make sure your release stays out of the trash can.
1. Headline! This is the first thing most journalists will see, so it’s important that your headline is relevant and informative. Your company name should be included, as well as what the release is about (e.g., launching a product, appearing in a trade show). Punctuation plays a big role in your headline too — adding a swarm of exclamation points can look shout-y and unprofessional, and flag your release as spam before anyone gets a chance to read it. For example, very few people would read my release if my headline was [Marketwire Is Super Awesome!! Press Releases Are Great!!!!] because it looks sensational, and not like valid news.
2. First paragraph. It’s crucial that your first paragraph really explains your release. It should include the who/what/why of your release, including tickers, special people, product names, etc. This is essentially the summary of your release — make it a snapshot that keeps your readers interested and well informed of what they will be reading.
3. Voice. Your release should be written in third person. This reads more factually and less emotionally, giving journalists something to really work with. The exception is, of course, a direct quote in the text, which should be attributed to a person, with a first and last full name, job title and the name of the company for which they work.
4. Grammar and Punctuation. Correctly punctuating your release shows that you took the time to make it accurate and well written, which will automatically elevate the quality of your release.
5. Sensationalism — the big no no! WRITING IN ALL CAPS or extensively using exclamation points makes the quality of your news plummet. It’s the written equivalent of a terrible infomercial (complete with shouting!), where you are definitely not going to buy the product but are fascinated by the enthusiasm. While funny, that doesn’t bode well for your announcement.
6. Quantity. Sending the same release with one word different in the headline (say, announcing a seminar series in multiple cities and ONLY changing the city name throughout) can be considered spam. Even if each release is sent to a different distribution circuit (one to Los Angeles, another to Detroit, etc.), there will always be overlap. The journalists receiving the news at online points — or, for example, the Associated Press — will see each of those releases, and it can have a negative impact on your pick up. And, let’s be honest here, it’s probably not financially smart either.
7. Quality. Your release will have better pick up if there is more information in it. The more facts you include, the better. If your company recently did a study about job growth, include your most poignant statistics — something relevant to what’s going on in the economy as a whole that journalists can use easily. The more information you provide, the bigger the chance you have for pick up, because the information is already easy and accessible.
8. Relativity. Your release should remain current with what is happening on some scale — maybe it reflects on a big-picture issue, like a national election, or on something more focused in the industry you work in, like a new battery type for cell phones. The more current your release, the more attention it will receive simply because journalists are always looking for new information. If the release is about the results of something like how different demographics tweeted about the Grammy awards, it should be distributed as close as possible to the end of that event to capitalize on the hype the event already commands.
While there is no guaranteed, tried-and-true way to always have your release picked up (there are too many contributing factors), following the above 8 guidelines will, at a minimum, increase your release’s chances of making it in front of the right journalists.