Before you hit send-a press release checklist
It’s easy to get so excited about your company or client’s latest news announcement, but the eagerness to get news out quickly has to be balanced with a commitment to accuracy.
Here are a few things to keep in mind before sending your next press release.
Is it factually accurate?
This should go without saying, but before you go on the record with anything, you should double, triple and quadruple check all the facts in your press release before sending – especially if you’re using numbers or statistics. Numbers can easily be inverted, decimals can be put in the wrong place and zeroes can be left off or added when you’re not paying attention. Make sure you check your facts. Always.
Is a press contact listed?
I cannot believe how many press releases I see that fail to list a press contact. Very rarely are press releases republished in their entirety, so if your objective is to generate interest that results in coverage, you have to list a person for the reporter or producer to reach out to if he or she has questions, needs more information or wants to set up an interview. You also need to include a phone number that you’re able to answer at any time of the day, or multiple numbers – such as day and night, or office and mobile. An email address is also helpful.
Is it the right length?
Ideally, a press release should only be long enough to convey all pertinent information, and not any longer. There is no reason to fill a press release with three pages of quotes when the reporter is just going to get new ones in an interview anyway. Press releases that are too long get thrown in the trash. So do press releases that are too short, because no one has time to research basic information that should have been included. Which brings me to my next point…
Does it have all the 5 W’s and the H?
Sometimes, when you know everything there is to know about a new product, or an event, you can inadvertently leave information out because you are too close to the project and subconsciously assume that everyone understands everything. To be sure that everything is included, make sure the release addresses the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How of the news you’re sharing. It may be good to have someone who isn’t as involved review it for feedback just to ensure everything makes sense.
Is your media list accurate?
Before you send a press release, you want to make sure your media list is up to date, and that you have the correct contact information. If you’re using a list you have used before, make sure that the contacts haven’t changed since the last time you sent a release. And make sure you’re contacting the right people. If you’re personalizing the emails, check to make sure you’re using the right person’s name – nothing is more embarrassing than sending a message that says “Hi Linda,” when you’re emailing Robert – and spelling it correctly.
Is the grammar and spelling correct?
This sounds like an elementary reminder, but if I had a dollar for every time I’ve found an extra s in copy before sending a press release, I’d be practicing public relations from an island in Maui. Unfortunately, typos don’t pay the bills. It’s also fairly awkward when you have to explain to someone how “pubic policy” made it in the paper.
Has someone looked at it one final time?
Someone other than you?
Okay, you’re good to go. Press send.
Unless, of course, your press release isn’t newsworthy. But, that’s a whole other post.
Amanda Kane is a writer and publicist in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Amanda is the principal of Game Face Public Relations, a sports publicity agency that works with professional athletes and their agents to develop winning personal branding strategies. Amanda's work in public relations has been honored with several Cumbre Awards from the New Mexico chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, and in 2009, New Mexico Business Weekly recognized her on their annual 40 Under 40 list. You can follow her on Twitter at @TheMandiKane.
Photo: Close up of checklist via Shutterstock