Take a guess at how many press releases land in a journalist’s inbox every day? As a freelance journalist I can expect around twenty. When Nine Media co-founder Karen Attwood worked at the Independent on Sunday she received more than a hundred.
Bad press releases are the scourge of busy news desks (and sometimes the joke). Make sure yours is not one of them. Here are the most common things journalists protest about in a press release.
1. It says how good you are instead of what you are.
A journalist or editor needs the top line on first glance. What is it announcing and why is it news? But many releases just rave about benefits.
I recently received a pitch selling a new fitness class. Apparently it is ‘super-loud and colourful’ and represents ‘motivational fitness forever’. It even promised that the class will help readers ‘find the chinks of rainbow in this grey city of ours.’ But what sort of class was it? I had no idea.
2. It’s over-familiar
The media may have a reputation for being sociable, but most journalists roll their eyes at openers such as ‘hi lovely’ or questions about their bank holiday weekend when you don’t know them. Attempts to make a pitch more personal with exclamation marks, smiley faces or repeated use of ‘gorgeous’, ‘awesome’ and ‘perfect’ are more likely to grate than pique their interest.
3. It crashes their inbox
Attachments are so passé. Put the info in the body of the email. Not only are multi-megabyte emails more likely to get deleted, if the text is in the body of an email it makes it easy for the recipient to file it should the topic of your release become newsworthy at a later date.
4. It’s ‘perfect for your publication’
Is this a press release or a pitch? It’s allowable if you’ve targeted your press release specifically for a publication (which you should be doing anyway!). But a generic comment like the above slapped on top of a press release sent out to hundreds is lazy. It tells the journalist immediately that the PR doesn’t have any idea of what or for whom the journalist writes.
Want more press release revelations? Nine Media run the hugely popular Ultimate Media Training Day specifically for PRs. We have courses on pitching to the broadcast press too. Check out our next events here.