Have you ever wondered why your press release is kept being rejected or getting no response? From your own point of view, you’ve done everything.
You have checked all the information to ensure it’s accurate. Is it newsworthy? Yes.
The details have been checked. Word usage, spelling, punctuation, and grammar are all perfect. You’ve in fact asked an editor to check it before sending it to press release newswire and reporters.
You’ve followed the format. What went wrong?
If you think that you’ve done everything to write a great release, but failed to get media coverage, you may be missing a thing or two that you’re not probably aware of.
Before discussing the elements you need to remember, let’s first go through the reasons why most releases fail to amaze journalists:
Your story isn’t newsworthy at all
Some companies are good at self-promotion. They fail to realize that a release is intended for their target market.
A good release isn’t an advertisement. Take out the sales pitch.
Focus on your audience. Serve their needs through your story.
A lengthy release.
Writing a lengthy story isn’t going to get you media coverage. Keep it short and concise.
Avoid added words and phrases that don’t support the main message. Get to the point.
A lifeless, dry headline.
No brand received publicity with this kind of headline. Always think of a catchy, strong, short, relevant and newsworthy headline.
Check how headlines are written in published newspapers and sites. If you are not good in it, practice.
Spend some time crafting it. Sometimes, writers tend to be lazy when thinking of what will be the headline of their content.
It is the key to your publicity, aside from the lede. Make it sharp and interesting. Ensure that it provides readers a good message of your story.
If you are announcing an upcoming event, don’t send it a day before your launch. You’ll likely not get attendance since not all people will be able to get your announcement.
When are you pitching? Be careful with the timing of your pitches. You have to consider the most popular day and time and the most lenient day and time to send your content.
You have to check the time that your target reporter pitches stories to the editor. You should know when they conduct their planning meetings to ensure that your story gets in before the deadline.
Majority of publications have their meetings between 8:30-9:30 a.m. and again between 2:30-3:30 p.m. Check with your target publications what time they do this. Make sure your release is submitted before the hour.
Mondays and Fridays are not ideal for PR efforts. They are the busiest and the leanest day for publicity respectively.
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are good days to send your pitch. Aside from the days, you must pay attention to the time as well.
Do not pitch beyond their office hours. You should also not pitch too early as your email will only be lost in their inbox.
You may have an idea of the format but doesn’t apply it. Journalists are strict with the standard structure. If you’re not following, don’t bother to send it.
A lot of releases are rejected for this reason. Before sending, recheck it again and again.
Don’t waste your time and effort writing something that isn’t going to be used at all. Study the format. You should know by now how a release is written.
Yes, your headline grabbed the interest of the journalist. However, when they read the lede, it has a poor angle. There’s nothing exciting about it.
Examine your story. Brainstorm with your content team. How do you think your content will be noticed if it offers no interesting angle?
Each time you plan your content, write the probable angle that you may consider. List two to three important points and select the best.
The lede is supposed to answer the what, where, when, how, why and who of your story. If the audience can’t find some of these, they are going to leave right away. They are not going to spend one more minute to look for it.
Right after the headline, make sure that the first paragraph includes these key facts. Journalists inspect this portion to know if your content is indeed newsworthy.
Placing your lede in other parts of the release isn’t going to be good. Journalists aren’t going to pick your story.
No supporting visuals.
These days, visuals matter a lot in a story. Include image, video or infographics to make your story interesting and compelling.
It supports the validity of a story. Moreover, it makes the message easy to digest. This is useful when presenting complex ideas.
For instance, infographics are a great representation of complex data and facts. People are able to get the message, without the need to read the entire release.
Now that you know the most common reasons why a lot of releases don’t get picked up by the press, let’s now go through all of the elements that are important for a release.
Ensure that you understand how each work. Prioritize them before hitting the “send” button.
Journalists are looking for newsworthy stories to write. Don’t just settle for any story to share. Not all stories provide value.
Before even thinking of crafting any release, think what story do you think your audience would care?
Instead of offering the same old stories like clichés, think of an interesting story idea.
If you are following up on an old story, what is new? There should be developed. Provide a new angle that would generate the interest of the readers.
Don’t just write stories that have been already published. Journalists don’t need multiple stories like that. They want unique ideas that haven’t been offered yet.
If you have a regular story angle, why not think of a new angle behind the main idea? If you are promoting the opening of a new business. No one will pay attention to it.
Why not think of a deeper reason why people will connect? Perhaps, inform your audience that in line with the grand opening, you are giving away freebies on the first 50 clients on the same day. This should trigger more interest than announcing that you’re opening a new company.
The value? People can try your new product and experience the benefits.
2. Right length.
Journalists expect that your release is only one page and between 300 and 500 words. They don’t need lengthy content.
Ideally, your story should fit the standard newsprint. You can easily accomplish this by avoiding industry jargons, buzzwords, and adjectives.
Focus on the key message. Be straight to the point. You don’t need to add needless words (industry jargons, buzzwords, and adjectives) and phrases just to make your paragraph full.
After including the 5W’s and H in the lede, make sure that the supporting details are included in the succeeding paragraphs. Don’t be confused about what to include. Choose details that support your main story.
Use the active voice. It is more direct. It cuts unnecessary words in a sentence.
It must be objective. Your content should look like a news and not an article or blog.
Is your story relevant to your target audience? Does it resonate with them?
Make sure that it is something that can help them. Emphasize the benefits of your product, service or event.
If they know that they can get something from it, they are more likely to read and engage. However, if they found out that they would not benefit from it, there’s no chance they will get interested to read it.
Express the relevancy of your news right from the headline. Place a keyword within the first three words. It gives them a hint whether your content is useful for them or not.
Maintain the relevancy of your story. They shouldn’t feel that you are misleading them.
You can offer a new information, tips or strategies. Share the important result of your studies or research. You can also issue a release to provide a solution to a problem they have.
If your content offers any of these, it is relevant for them. They will surely click to your announcement.
What format a does release need to follow? It follows the inverted pyramid style of writing.
The key message is presented first in the lede, then the least important information is left in the end. There’s a standard format for writing a release.
If you’re not familiar with it, you better study it before writing one. Here is the format to follow:
- Subhead (optional)
- Lead (lede)
- Body: Supporting details, direct quotes, hard numbers, and call-to-action
- Media Contact
5. Great headline.
The number one element that you should pay attention to when crafting a release is the headline. No journalist is going to click to a story, without reading the headline.
A well-written headline surely grabs the attention of the readers. It should convey what the message is.
Although keywords really don’t matter to rank a content on the search results, it still has a search engine optimization value. Place a keyword in the first few words within the headline.
However, don’t use it many times in your release. There’s no place for keyword stuffing. It is a black hat SEO tactic.
Doing this can harm your reputation online. Google will flag you as spam if you keep on using keywords too many times.
Don’t force keywords in your content. It looks awful to read. Provide quality content instead of repeating keywords.
Keep in mind that Google wants quality. Before pleasing the search engines, provide valuable content first and the rest follows.
7. Effective quotes
Include quality and effective quotes that will be used by the press. Don’t just get quotes that are dry, boring and ordinary.
Quotes should provide a human element. You can accomplish this by extracting the valuable opinion of your source.
Ask good questions to get quotes that reporters would want to use in their story. Do not include information in the quotation.
Provide only the insights of the speaker. Use quotes from a third-party source like your clients. They are more effective and promotes the credibility of your claims since they provide an objective opinion.
8. Complete lede
As mentioned, your release should have a complete lede. The first paragraph must answer the key information.
Journalists are very critical with this. If you want to impress them, present it and be quick. They should see that you know what your readers are looking for.
Make it easy for journalists to do their work. They should get what your message is, without reading the entire story.
A quick look at the lede should give them the assurance that your story is newsworthy. Again, don’t place the information elsewhere. They aren’t going to look for it to cover your story.
The “About Us” statement or boilerplate should tell who is the individual or brand behind the announcement. Its purpose is to provide readers with a brief information about the business.
The boilerplate remains the same in all the releases of a company. Make sure to update it if there is a significant change happening in the organization.
Your boilerplate can provide a link for the readers to visit the site. This way, they can learn more information about the business.
10. Media Contact
Another important element of a release is the media contact. It should provide the name, position, contact number, email address and social media handles of the person who can be contacted by the media. The moment a reporter finds your story useful, they may need extra multimedia like an image or video to include.
If your quotes aren’t useful, they may arrange for another interview with your company CEO or a customer. Make sure that the person can be reached by the media anytime. Update the information at once if there are changes.
Your release should always provide accurate information. Make sure that it is also easy to understand by omitting complicated terms.
Avoid these errors that writers and PR professionals often do. Focus on what you need to achieve in your release to make it easy to cover.