Yes, I own a public relations firm… and I hate press releases. Sounds crazy, right? Well, I spent almost a decade deleting them, so there’s that. When I was looking to leave the TV business and start working at a public relations firm, so many wouldn’t hire me because I didn’t have any PR agency experience. I would say, “No, I don’t, but I do have experience deleting just about everything you’ve ever sent me. Would you like to know why?” Honestly, not one of them wanted to know why… but they still continued to send me terrible press releases in an attempt to earn their clients publicity. So, why do I hate press releases and didn’t read most of them?
- No one was putting themselves in my shoes. I’m the reporter. I’m the one you want to cover the story, so put yourself in my shoes. Is it what I usually cover? No. Does it pertain to the area I cover? No. So you’re sending it to me why? Because it’s what you should do?
- It wasn’t newsworthy. Most press releases I received basically screamed, “Please, give my client a free commercial! There is nothing really newsworthy here, but I need to get this on TV!” Unless the news day is so, so, so very slow… local TV news doesn’t do free commercials. Instead, educate me. Entertain me. At least attempt to make it newsworthy! There’s gotta be a story in there somewhere. In addition, why should I do your story when I’m one of dozens, if not hundreds getting this exact same press release?
- They are just too long. Do you know how many press releases news outlets and journalists get in a single day?! It’s a lot. You’d be shocked! If you don’t keep it short and sweet and get to the point, all your time and energy writing that press release was wasted.
- It said “Press Release” in the subject line. That = automatic deletion. Seriously, you could have the solution to all of the worlds problems in that press release. With that subject line, no one will read it.
- It said “Breaking News” in the subject line… and was about an art show… the same day a mass shooting occurred. This not only gets you deleted, but shamed and embarrassed in the newsroom and in online industry groups. I’ve seen it. As a journalist, I laughed. As someone in the PR industry, please stop. You are embarrassing me.
- It didn’t give me what I needed, when I needed it. If I’m in TV, what would I do with high resolution pictures or quotes? Nothing. I need an interview… and not a Skype interview. An in person interview… and that person better be available from the second you send me that press release. If I ever responded to a press release, this was a follow up problem. In TV, we do things the day of. Unless it’s a special report, the story is started and finished within hours, so don’t send me something to cover, then tell me to wait because you aren’t ready. You just lost your chance.
With that said, I don’t think all press releases are pointless. I bet everyone jumps at the chance to read one from Apple. I would. They put out some pretty good stuff. I still write press releases for clients. I definitely think they have a time and a place, but I do not believe press releases should be a go-to thing each and every time you want to reach out to the media. Many PR pros do. In my opinion, #1-#6 is how not to write a press release. I’ll work on how to write a good press release soon… and it won’t be just from me. I’ll loop in my other PR friends for their two cents.
For more on how I can help you grow your business, whether it be through a strategic press release or pitch, please visit me at Media Maven… or even better, sign up for my FREE e-course to learn how you can promote your brand by doing PR yourself. Click here to master your PR.