This article was originally published on ComeRecommended.com.
When writing press releases and media pitches is not your specialty, media relations can be tough. In public relations, we depend on the media to help us share information with our target audience. This only works if the media choose to work with us. If our press release doesn’t make the cut, nobody will hear our message.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s really easy to mess up a press release. A poorly written press release is one of the main reasons a journalist or blogger will ignore you. Make sure your message is heard by avoiding these common press release fails:
1. Too many typos. No matter if you’re writing press releases, website content, business letters, or financial reports, the No. 1 problem that takes away from your credibility is a typo. Take the time to read through your press release again. Check for spelling and grammar fails. Have someone else read through it when you’re done. A little extra proofreading never hurts.
2. Too many words. Journalists have a deadline to meet. Sending them a press release that’s too long will just annoy them. The maximum length of a news release should be 400 words, but for online publications, aim for about 250 words or less. Stick to the who, what, when, where, why, and how. If a journalist has more questions, they’ll contact you.
3. Using jargon. Every industry has its own vocabulary, and the tech industry is no exception. It’s important to avoid as much jargon as you can when writing press releases. If the reporter fails to understand a term, chances are they won’t read any further. Determine ways to explain your message clearly with words most people would understand, even if they aren’t in your industry.
4. Unhelpful contact information. All press releases should include contact information so journalists can reach you with questions. This means you need to include the full name, email address, and cellphone number of someone who will be able to answer questions about the news release. The person listed also needs to be able to respond to media inquiries quickly. If a reporter cannot contact you, they’ll give up and throw out your story.
5. Bulk distribution. Journalists want to receive press releases that actually make sense for their audience. It’s important not to send out your press release blindly to the masses. Determine specific journalists who write about your industry. Write new emails to each journalist explaining why your story makes sense for them to write. Tailored pitches are much more likely to be picked up.
6. Send to the wrong person. Similar to the last point, journalists will ignore your press release when you don’t send it to the right person. If you know you want your story to go on Mashable, find a reporter who has written similar stories in the past and pitch it to them. Don’t send a tech story to the health reporter. They’re not going to help you by passing it along to the correct reporter. Your story will just be deleted.
Successful public relations starts with good media relations. If you’re not careful, your messages will never be shared by the media. Avoid these six mistakes and you’re already halfway there.
What are some other press release fails you’ve noticed?