10 Tips For Better Press Releases
Posted on January 14, 2000
by B.L. Ochman,
Because you are so close to your business it is hard to maintain journalistic perspective. The world at large is not going to find your triumphs and struggles captivating. And if you cry wolf too often, all of your releases will be zapped without being read.
If you are a software company (not Microsoft) don't count on getting top coverage of your version 2.0. Extolling theoretical benefits puts editors to sleep. They want to hear assessments and results from industry insiders or installed users. Cosmetic changes to your web site aren't even worth a media alert.
If your news sounds like an advertising pitch it is destined to be discarded.
Here are 10 Tips to help you get coverage:
1. Think big.
Unless you are really the first, or you actually stand a chance of displacing the first or front runner, getting press won't be simple. Think how your business will affect other businesses, spur trends, change the way people do things.
2. Keep it short
3. Follow journalistic style
Tell the story in the headline and the first paragraph. When your release is sent out on some news services only the headline and first paragraph are shown. If they don't make editors want to see more, your whole effort is for naught.
Keep sentences and paragraphs short. Don't editorialize (offer opinions) in a release, i.e., don't say "this is the best, most amazing service...." Tell us, in simple terms, what makes it great. We'll decide if it is amazing.
Get yourself an Associated Press Stylebook, available from Amazon for $12. Learn to properly abbreviate words and numbers and the correct way to refer to formal names. The University of California, Irvine has an online guide to writing for the press that isn't as detailed, but has the basics. http://www.communications.uci.edu/style/style1.html
4. Post photos and art on a web page
You'll have a way to track results because only journalists will have the url for that page.
5. Don't call to ask did ya get it?
6.Ask yourself 'who cares?'
If the topic relates to a lot of people, is timely and genuinely helpful, you're likely to get a good response when you e-mail or call the appropriate editor (assignment, financial, home editor, etc.) at an online or traditional print or broadcast medium
7. Spend the money for an online clipping service
Do not assume that editors will call you if they are running your story. An announcement, a description of a service and the majority of other releases don't require an interview. Many times the story will run without anyone telling you about it. Don't be penny wise and pound foolish.
8. Use more than one online distribution service
9. Know to whom to send it, not just where.
10. Be able to pitch the idea in one sentence
Here are some guidelines for what IS news:
B.L.Ochman is an award-winning marketer who creates dynamic positioning, branding and promotional campaigns for online and traditional businesses. Subscribe to WHAT'S NEXT ONLINE, her bi-weekly marketing techniques newsletter at
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