Whether you’re pimping out your new show, talking up an exhibition, having a sale or just want to tell the world that someone off TOWIE wore one of your dresses to an Esso garage, then you’re going to have to press the button and release the beast. Here are five common press release mistakes to avoid…
1. Using the wrong name. Or no name.
Let’s start from the beginning shall we? Of course, you can’t always address every single press release individually (although if you did, it would be much more successful). But be warned, a “Hey guys!” blanket greeting will make lots of your recipients immediately switch off, ignore and delete.
Secondly, make some attempt to check that you’ve got the journalist’s name right. If you’re not sure, here’s a clue – it’s probably the same as the name in the email address.
And, while we’re on the address subject, please don’t just CC everyone in the world with an email address – not only is it massively unprofessional to share someone’s email address with a load of strangers, it will also make your email very likely to end up in a junk folder.
2. Shoehorning in a desperately tenuous topical reference
“Forget the Mexican Gulf, will you spill the beans about our oilsome new sketch show?”
I am only partially joking. You’d be amazed how many people think that in order to send something out to the press, you have to dress it up as news-related. You don’t. Doing so will often annoy or even offend as many people as it grabs.
You should be able to describe what you’re promoting in just a couple of snappy sentences. Think of your unique selling point, how you’d describe it to a granny and bring that together into a short, sharp, and concise elevator pitch. This is how to open your press release. If you do want to include a longer description, maybe add it as an attachment or link.
Talking of brevity, make sure all the really useful information – dates, prices, venues, contact details, opening times etc – are up at the top of the press release. Without these, you might as well not send a release at all.
4. A metric tonne of hyperbole
“This painstakingly well acted production, fabulously directed, stunningly lit and unbelievably well-designed is set to change the face of British theatre forever with its hilariously insightful and groundbreaking script…”
Of course you want to big up your project but please, try to keep some sort of grip on reality. A few well-placed superlatives will do a much better job than a muck-spreader of hyperventilating praise. That goes for exclamation marks too – less is more.
5. Sending irrelevant press releases
This is not cool, dudes. As one disgruntled marketing person put it, “If someone repeatedly sends me irrelevant content, I just mark all emails from them as going straight to trash.”
Pick to whom you’re sending what. Read the publication they write for, check if it’s relevant and tailor what you’re saying to their audience and style.
Here are a few more for free…
- Don’t send press releases at 5pm on a Friday. Absolutely no one is going to read them at that time of the week.
- If you’re offering interviews with someone, please check that they’re available. Being told someone is in meetings or away is very frustrating.
- Don’t attach huge files. If you want to attach images (which is very useful) create a gallery and send out the link to that.
Fancy more help? Check out our brilliant How to Write a Press Release education resource pack.
For more resources, articles and opportunities, visit our Writing and Publishing homepage.
Not a touch typist yet by lukemelia via Flickr under a (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) license.