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5 mistakes to avoid when writing your own press release

Launching press releases is an excellent way to get attention for your brand, and possibly benefit from media coverage. If you take the trouble to write your own press release, you are likely focusing on the message, grammar and spelling when you edit it; however, there are other potential problems you should look for when editing your press release. Before sending your press release on the news wires, be sure to troubleshoot potential problems that might cause your release to miss some great coverage.

Your release can be well written and cover all your points, but if it isn’t structured properly and geared towards your target audience, you might be missing out. It is important to understand this when writing press releases because as a business person, advertiser, or marketer, you are focused on selling your product or services while press releases are all about attracting reporters and other media professionals who likely aren’t going to buy from you, but they certainly can help you boost sales and brand awareness.

Above all, remember your target audience in this one type of advertising isn’t your customers. That is why press releases are a different animal than other advertising content you write. Your press release shouldn’t focus on sales; instead it should have a newsworthy angle. The best tactic is to write your press release and include all of your ideas, but then go back and edit it like you are the newspaper editor. Here are 5 mistakes that you should look to correct before sending your press release on the wires:

1. Don’t make the title too long. Sometimes, we try to say everything in the first sentence. In this case, the first sentence is the title. Think of those attention grabbing headlines that you see in newspapers or hear on news broadcasts. Start out with a title, but just think of it as a placeholder until you are finished, then go back and make sure that your title summarizes your focus and covers what you need it to, while still being as short as possible. Remember that you also have the summary under the title, which is often what reporters and media professionals will see next, as long as your short and punchy title grabs their attention enough for them to read on.

2. Can you use numbers or bullet points? Is there any section of your release that you can change into bullet points or a numbered list? This can help focus your release and ensure that it is concise, to the point, and easy to read and understand. Remember that reporters and media professionals are busy and likely see thousands of pitches and ideas a day. What makes yours different? Why should they run with your story instead of someone else’s? Any way that you can get your point across quickly and easily is the best thing for a press release.

3. Is your press release newsworthy? The whole point of a press release is to get media coverage. However, reporters and media professionals are looking for newsworthy information to include in their publications or broadcasts. What is the news angle? Are you focusing on a local event, a charity, or do you have a groundbreaking new product or service that is so revolutionary it makes it news? Find your angle and go with it. Then, be sure to gear your release towards your target audience. In this case, your target audience would be the reporters or media professionals that cover the type of news that you are angling toward. This could be a local reporter, a special interest reporter, a community focused writer, or similar ideas you can gear your focus to and have a better result. Remember that it doesn’t have to be a national or worldwide headline to be newsworthy either. Local news is great for local companies. While you are editing for newsworthiness, make sure not to repeat any old news. If you have more than one topic, make separate releases for that. The only duplicate content or information in your release should be your boilerplate, this is the section at the end that includes the information about your company and contact information for the PR professional or person in your company who would handle press inquiries.

4. Is your press release too promotional? In your aim to have a newsworthy theme, you should also continue to edit out any promotional wording. The rule of thumb is that if it is similar wording to other content that you use in your promotions or ads, remove it. If part of the newsworthy angle is the sale, then it is fine to mention it, but just once and explain why this sale is newsworthy. Is it a new type of promotion that can be a new trend? The twist on these sales campaigns make them newsworthy. Is yours?

5. Last press release mistake: Not following up on results. Once your press release is launched, the biggest mistake you can make is not following up on the leads and hits you get from it. Use media monitoring to catch any pickup and follow through with anyone interested. Isentia offers tools to send and track your press releases.Use the reporting function of your media release software to find interested parties and make contact to follow up and gauge interest. Not monitoring the media to follow up on results will be the last mistake you make and it could be a fatal one for the success of your media marketing campaigns.

Summary

When it comes to using press releases, they really can help boost your special event, special announcement or increase brand exposure. However, they have to be presented to the media in the right way. Often times, a release is written by the marketing or advertising team and it isn’t geared toward your target audience. In this case, your target audience is the media and reporters, not customers. You can learn to troubleshoot your press release and look for potential problems with it because releasing it on the wires. The 5 main points we discussed about proper press releases today were to pay attention that the title isn’t too long and can grab the continued attention of the media, make your release straightforward, concise and to-the-point, make sure it is newsworthy and not too promotional. Lastly, and perhaps the most important thing regarding press releases, is to ensure that you monitor pick-ups and reactions and follow up on them. Using our five troubleshooting tips can really help make sure that you have successful press releases in your future.

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