There's been a trend in the media relations industry that drives me, along with some of my colleagues, absolutely insane.
Time and again we’re seeing press releases that either lack substance, or, in many cases, use such language that would cause any intelligent recipient to find them unbelievable.
A press release, as intended for “the press” (aka the media, call them journalists, bloggers, micro-influencers, whatever) isn’t meant to be an advertisement. And even if it were, you want the people to believe what was written. Right?
Our friends in the media are gatekeepers to an audience. Like the security at a bar or club, they filter and curate who comes in based on the brand and audience they want to cultivate.
Ever wonder why your press releases don’t result in you getting beyond the velvet rope at certain clubs? If so, ask yourself these two easy questions:
1. Do you believe your own PR?
2. Do you think journalists are stupid?
I’m hoping your answers are “yes” to the first and “no” to the second.
However, a quick search of the newswires (or an informal survey of our journalist friends) reveals a different answer.
Some brands are following the same path as those friends of yours who overshare the mundane via social media. Sure, a picture is worth a thousand words, but not all pictures contain words worth reading.
And just like your friend that posts constant updates on Facebook or the incessant foodie on Instagram, frequently distributing press releases that lack merit or plausibility can alienate journalists and cause them to hit the unfollow button. No one wants to know you’ve had tacos for dinner twice this week, even if Thursday’s tacos were five percent better than the tacos you had on Tuesday.
To make the most out of your media relations efforts, here are some things to consider before you start crafting that press release. Trust me, the journalists you’re sending them too will appreciate this.
If you swap out your brand’s name with that of a competitor’s in your press release or pitch, would you be jealous the news wasn’t about you?
If your response is “meh” instead of “yeah!” then hard stop and go back to the drawing board.
Not everything your brand is doing is disruptive, critical or a game changing innovation. And that’s okay!
If something isn’t shifting the paradigm for your industry, don’t say that it is. Instead, explain why it’s important to your brand or industry and target just the media the news is relevant for. Don’t overstate it. Otherwise, you risk alienating the media you’re sending it to right now, and possibly, later on when you actually have something disruptive to share with them.
Also, leave the jargon and descriptors du jour out of it. Sure, an abundance of buzzworthy hashtags will get you some automated traffic on social media, but when targeting the media, write in the language they’ll want to read.
This assumes that your press release is intended for the actual media, with the goal of having them find value in it and re-telling your story in an authentic manner to their audience.
Journalists at the more discerning, influential media outlets aren’t dumb. If you want your press release to be an ad, that’s fine, just keep it posted on your company’s blog and LinkedIn profile because the filter journalists have for BS tends to be pretty good.
Before you even begin to start drafting a release up for the media (or ask your PR team to do so) double check that what you’re considering pushing out is actually news and will make it through the filter of the journalists you’re focusing on.
Bill Byrne is a veteran PR pro with a diverse range of brand experience, including work with leading snowboard companies, startups, financial entities, tech products, general consumer goods, along with both craft and macro beer brands. A former NYC agency guy, he spent years in the Manhattan offices of Cohn & Wolfe and PainePR before eventually co-founding Remedy Communications in San Diego.
Photo via Pixabay