Your Media Release Was Just Banned to Hell
Whether you’re new to the PR game or you’re a seasoned expert, there’s one thing we can all agree upon: we’ve written a terrible media release or two in our time.
No? You haven’t? Every single one has been perfect? I call you a liar.
It’s not our fault. Sometimes, we simply don’t have much to work with. Deadlines are looming, launches are approaching - that funding round didn’t go as well as we’d hoped. Yes, all of these media releases have a reason to be a little lackluster.
But even when the news is great, when the funding announcement is notable, and the product is sure to be acquired for billions of dollars one day -- it’s very, I repeat very, easy to write a horrible media release.
Are you guilty?
It’s time to find out.
Here are seven foolproof ways to ban your media release straight to hell.
1. The Future is Here and Your Media Release is in Hell
Buzz buzz buzz. Hear that? That’s the sound of your media release abundant with buzzwords. It’s going to go viral. Guilty. It’s the future. Guilty. It’s SO disruptive! Guilty. Unless you’ve created the first-ever flying car that can be mass-produced and is affordable to everyone, thus changing the way we commute all the while saving the environment -- please refrain from saying you are the future of anything.
Focus on what you are - not what you’re going to be. [Click to Tweet]
2. Your Headline is Weak Sauce
If you’re lucky enough to have a journalist open your media release file, your ability to hook them rests in the fire power behind your headline. That’s right. One or two sentences could seal the deal. Seem like a lot of pressure? It is.
Here are the key things to remember:
Keep it short (less than 120 characters)
Use keywords - NOT buzzwords
Numbers and percentages are golden: use them
3. You Temporarily Blanked on the Date
We’ve all been there. Launch date shifted, Apple made a surprise announcement squashing yours. That’s fine, but whatever you do - don’t forget to change the date on your release. Before ever hitting send on an email containing a press release, do yourself a favor and give it one more quick scan ensuring formatting is on the mark, there are no glaringly obvious typos, and your date is correct.
As some of us (ahem, myself) have learned the hard way -- journalists aren’t always forgiving of an incorrect date and may publish your news ahead (or long after) the one you’d planned on.
4. News? What News?
Perhaps far worse than one small typo or buzzword is a media release that does not contain any news of any sort. It’s important to know the difference between what you think is news and what a journalist will think is news. Hitting a milestone you’re proud of may not always translate to the cover of TechCrunch -- and that’s ok! But it may be something better suited for your company blog, rather than a press release.
So what is newsworthy?
Key features that are noteworthy
When in doubt, ask a friend or call up your favorite PR pro before investing time in drafting a release. Having a safe sounding board you trust could make the difference between a media win or a media fail.
5. You’re a Seller, Not a Teller
News? Check. But that’s not all. A media release should also tell a story. And not just any story, but one that is compelling and interesting enough to be retold by many eager writers. You’re not selling a product or a company. You’re selling a story. What is your WHY? What problem are you solving? Get personal and make it good.
6. You’re Not Writing the Next Game of Thrones Novel
Why so long? The key to a great media release is short and to the point, all while packing a powerful punch. You can’t complete this mission if you’re telling the journalist everything you’ve ever done since the founding of your company. Old news is just that -- focus on what’s happening now. Keep it under a page (minus the boilerplate) when at all possible. Limit the release to one or two powerful quotes.
Quotes from customers or industry analysts are a great third party validation. [Click to tweet]
We promise your media release will be safe from the fire.
7. Faelure to Prooof Read
Even the best of us make spelling and grammatical errors on occasion, but there’s a time and a place and it’s not in your press release that you’ve just sent to the writers at New York Times. While all PR professionals should be excellent communicators, we’re still human. Always have a second set of eyes look over your release for spelling, grammar, and sneaky formatting issues.
A media release littered with spelling mistakes is a one-way ticket to media release purgatory. [Click to Tweet]
In conclusion, though there are naysayers, a media release is still a powerful PR weapon when used to its full potential. Next time you sit down to draft a release, remember these seven media release sins that are sure to ban your media release straight to hell and re-route.
You can thank us later for the much smoother ride!
Do you have any interesting media release stories? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below or tweet us @Onboardly.