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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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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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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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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Do you target your content pitches and press releases appropriately?

multiple arrows being fired into a wall
Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

Earlier this year Hubspot surveyed 500 journalists about PR tactics for pitching stories that were counter-productive (link to piece at the bottom).

That’s the polite way of saying they drew up a list of what irks journalists.

I’m sure there won’t be anything on the list to surprise seasoned PR’s – and this isn’t a post about dos and don’ts* – but there is one broader lesson: ‘Know the audience’.

Research the audience

When pitching to journalists this means not only knowing their patch but also understanding the publication/website and who its audience is.

I’ve worked with many brilliant PR’s over the years but the one who regularly sent me stories about window boxes wasn’t one of them.

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