8 common mistakes marketers make when writing press releases

At B2B Marketing, we receive our fair share of questionable press releases. And so we know better than most that for marketers who dabble in PR, the pitfalls are multifarious. Michael King outlines what not to do when reaching out to an audience of time-poor journalists

For journalists, the ideal press release strikes the perfect balance between informative and engaging. But what sometimes happens is quite the opposite: some PRs miss out the key facts while others send over press releases that are completely irrelevant. Hopefully, the following list will remind you what not to do when drawing attention to your news story.

1. Subject lines written in upper case

The subject line is the first thing journalists see when your email reaches their inbox. Shouting at them in all caps might get their attention but you might ruffle some feathers in the process.

2. Impersonal emails

So you’ve just received a press release, and the subject line looks intriguing. But you open the email to learn the writer hasn’t even bothered to find out your name. All that’s included as the opening line is ‘Dear editor’ or ‘Good morning’. Come on marketers, no one likes to be a face without a name, you should know that better than anyone.

3. Self-promotion in quotes

Journalists love an insightful quote. But what they can’t stand are quotes that are overtly self-promotional. By all means provide a few sentences about your company if you feel it’s appropriate, but keep it minimal. If we wanted to read about the intricacies of your product offering, we’d check out your website.

4. Meaningless facts and statistics

Facts and stats are great for putting things into context. But if you’ve ever read a bad press release, you’ll know that some PRs can overdo it with numbers and percentages. Hold back on the number-crunching and leave that to the data geeks. Journalists are human, after all, so provide background information that explains why your release is so significant – does it relate to a recent big news story, for example?

5. Not including a headshot for job moves

Adding an image to a release is a simple job, and we know that the vault of images in your database is bound to contain at least one headshot worthy of sharing. Save journalists the hassle of chasing you and include the attachment before you hit send.

6. Sending a release without a link to the report

Report links are like gold dust for journalists because they give their readers the opportunity to learn more about the subject in question. Omitting links from a release is a bit like leading your reader to a wonderfully ornate building without letting them inside. Don’t show them half the story; always provide more detail wherever possible.

7. Having nothing newsworthy to say

We all have objectives to meet, but squeezing blood from a stone shouldn’t be the standard. If you haven’t got anything newsworthy to say, focus on other ways of promoting your brand or product.

8. Targeting the wrong audience

Journalists have enough on their to-do lists without having to plough through a flurry of irrelevant releases. Think about the sector you’re in. Targeting a journalist in the energy sector with news about a new engineering product probably isn’t going to generate the coverage you’re after and could potentially damage any chances of getting more relevant coverage in the future.

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