Before you write your press release ask these questions

There is a lot of ego in press releases. Businesses who insist their PR issue a press release despite being advised to the contrary.

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Here’s the thing, just because you did something doesn’t mean anyone else actually cares.

Just because it’s interesting to you, doesn’t mean anyone else will find it interesting – or useful information.

It might make a nice bit of content for your blog or social media but that doesn’t mean it’s going to set a journalists world on fire and have them holding the front page.

Have realistic expectations

When it comes to press releases, you need to be realistic in your expectations.

A journalist’s job isn’t to do your marketing for you, your press release needs to be helpful to them for the job that they are doing.

Which is giving their readers useful and interesting information.

So how do you decide whether a story is worth the time spent drafting and approving a press release?

Here are some questions to ask:

• Is your story genuinely interesting to the journalist’s audience?

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Why you should target your press release

Journalists receive a lot of press releases and a lot get deleted without being read because they just don’t have time for them.

Targeting your press release to specific journalists, publications and websites can give it a better chance of being read. Here’s why.

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When I give generic examples of good and bad ways to approach writing press releases, I pick on window box makers.

It’s not just a lame attempt at humour but a reminder of a past experience.

When I was a journalist at commercial property magazine EG, I was sent press releases from a company which made window boxes for houses.

Pictures of bright coloured blooms sprouting from boxes hanging from windows on pretty little cottages. You know the type of thing.

Irrelevant story

If the PR had ever taken the time to pick up a copy of EG they’d know that a story about window boxes wasn’t ever going to make it into print.

The magazine was aimed at those working in commercial property – developers and investors.

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How to get off to a good start with your press release

Press releases aren’t going to get your name in the press unless they get off to a good start. And that means writing them without ego.

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It seems counterintuitive to say that a press release isn’t about your business but it isn’t. Not really.

A press release is about telling a story that is interesting to the readers of the journalist you are pitching to.

The fact that your company is involved in that story, is a billy bonus.

Which means your release needs to get off to the right start.

Get to the story

Journalists are busy. They get a lot of press releases. They want to know what the story is as quickly as possible.

They don’t want to wade through long descriptions of your business and mostly unqualified marketing rhetoric about how important you are.

That’s background information, it’s the actual story which is important to the journalist so they can decide whether it is of interest to their readers and therefore worth pursuing.

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Two more words to avoid using in press releases

My post yesterday about how to avoid using the word ‘delighted’ in press releases seems to have touched a nerve and opened old wounds (join in the conversation on LinkedIn if you are on there).

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There were some great suggestions for other words that should be purged from press releases.

One of my favourites is the use of the word ‘unique’ as suggested by Val Proctor.

Why? Because the thing being described as unique, very rarely is.

My own addition to the list of words that should be banned is ‘leading’.

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Ways to avoid using the word ‘delighted’ in press releases

My blog post on what a press release is and isn’t got a lot of comments over on LinkedIn about the use of the word ‘delighted’ – or rather why people disliked it.

So I thought I’d write a quick guide to how you can avoid saying you are ‘delighted’ in your press release.

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To quickly recap why it shouldn’t be used, no one expects you NOT to be delighted (or cares that you are).

And it’s a waste of an opportunity to say something more interesting and meaningful – which is more likely to get used by a journalist.

So I’ve come up with some quick ways to avoid saying you are ‘delighted’ and add more value to your press release quotes.

These are mostly property focused (because that’s the industry I work with) but the underlying ideas are interchangeable for all sorts of businesses:

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