Rumours about the death of the press release have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, the press release is alive and well and living on the internet.
Thousands of sites, webzines, bloggers et al depend on an inflow of press releases to enable them to generate their own content. In fact many companies think that punting out press releases and then blogging and tweeting about them is all you need to do create a bit of social media noise.
Well, they should think again. First, the majority of press releases are poorly written, fail to communicate much news and are almost invariably too long.
For some reason, many people seem to be labouring under the illusion that journalists carefully read press releases and then turn them into stories. Fact is that nearly all press releases end up in the bin. Electronic versions – nearly all releases these days fall into that category – are hardly ever even opened by journalists. Usually, the supporting email is enough to put them off.
If ever there was a time for sorting out the way press releases are written then it is now. Good press releases and social media should be a marriage made in heaven. Especially now we are seeing a growing number of multi-media releases on the internet.
So here are some handy hints about writing press releases, which we at Aspectus PR do our very best to follow:
- What’s the story? If you can’t say why your story deserves a press release then don’t even bother to write it. Think again. Find the story behind what you are trying to communicate.
- Tell the story in the first sentence. Then use the rest of the release to support and back up the story.
- Keep your release down to one page or 500 words if you can.
- Don’t include silly words like ‘revolutionary’, ‘innovative’. Superlatives are a bad idea too.
- Avoid including bad quotes from the boss. It’s just a turn-off. If he wants to say something really interesting though, then that’s fine.
- You know how trade union leaders sound when they speak to the media? ‘After full consultation with our membership etc’. Well, something similar seems to happen to many people when they write press releases. They sort of slip into tortuous corporate-speak. Do avoid all that and write, as you speak, in plain English.
Press releases are very much back in vogue. They should work well with social media, but only if you take the right approach. They will actually work against you if you don’t.