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.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

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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What a B2B press release is – and isn’t

When it comes to press releases I’ve seen both sides. I’ve received hundreds, possibly thousands in my career as a B2B property journalist and I’ve also helped property PR’s write them.

The purpose of a press release is clear, to tell journalists your story so, hopefully, they will think it is interesting enough to tell their readers.

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What journalists are looking for is the facts and figures and a good, usable quote (more on the latter in a moment).

Your press release, once it has pinged into a journalist’s inbox is theirs to do with what they will. It becomes their story, not yours.

A journalist will most likely want to add their own take, expand on it with some research, additional information, comment or opinion.

It may involve interviews with you, your peers, your rivals, a person on the street or anyone else they feel has value to add to the story.

Value-add for readers

They aim to write something that best serves their readers. What value can they add for their readership, not what they can do for you, your business and brand.

Once, when out doing interviews for a regional property feature, I was told that I should be doing my bit to boost a particular area.

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