Does Your Press Release Suck? 7 Ways to Keep Your Release Out of the Trash Can

Stacey is one of the top personal organizers in her region. She is smart, sharp and always on top of her game. She also knows that “National Get Organized Week” is coming up, and sees it as a great opportunity to promote herself and her business. She writes up a “killer” press release full of her achievements and accolades and prepares to send it. An hour later, Stacey is still waiting for a response from the media and she can’t figure out why it is taking so long. The reason: her press release sucks!

The reality is that no matter how good YOU think your press release is, most times it is doomed even before it is sent. Here are seven reasons why press releases fail, along with some easy tips to make your release stand out in a crowd.

1. Bad Headline? Kiss It Goodbye

There are a variety of reasons why a release goes straight from the e-mail outbox into the recycle bin. The biggest one is that the headline isn’t catchy enough. Writers and editors receive hundreds of releases every day, and most of the time they decide whether or not to read a release based on the headline or subject line. Make sure your release is timely and newsworthy. Finding a relevant story in the newspaper or using an event guide such as Chase’s will give you the edge when it comes to being noticed.

2. Irrelevant Topic for the Audience

What is an exciting topic to you might not be as exciting for an editor or writer. Remember, these people are not writing an article to entertain or educate themselves. Their goal is to pass along timely and relevant information to their audience. In the end, results are measured by how many magazines or papers are sold. Whether or not we like to admit it, these writers are all trying to do the same thing: make money for their respective publications. Don’t waste their time with ideas that don’t relate to their specific topic.

3. Too Much Self-Promotion

Stacey made a point to speak about all of her successes and credentials when writing her release, thinking this would really “wow” the writers. In reality, credentials are worthless if your pitch idea is worthless. If you provide a good idea backed with solid information, your credentials will speak for themselves. Remember, if you want nothing more than to promote yourself, go buy an ad in the publication. The smart individual knows that a good interview doubles as an endorsement and a promotion for themselves and their company.

4. Dropping the Carrot Instead of Dangling It

Once you have your release in the hands of a writer or editor, and they are interested in your topic, it’s time to get to the point and make sure they know what you can talk about. This is best illustrated in four or five short, concise bullet points along with no more than three examples. While the writers do want to hear what you can offer, they don’t want to be bored to tears with a long drawn out explanation either.

5. Just Another Face In the Crowd

The last thing these writers want to see is the same old ideas that any Average Joe can talk about. Make sure you have a creative angle to present to the writers. Whether or not your ideas are brand new or building of previous research and studies, it is imperative to make them your own. A good exercise for adding individuality to an idea is to sit down and write out twenty different potential hooks. Then walk away from them for an hour or so, come back and decide on the best three. These three will be the basis for why your ideas are different, unique and, more importantly, meaningful for the writer.

6. Who Is Talking to Me?

Now that you have presented your ideas in an interesting and effective manner, you can finally go ahead and speak about your own credentials and achievements. Be sure to mention your education, work experience, past jobs and anything else that you have done that relates to the idea and message that your are pitching. It doesn’t matter if you have two months or twenty years of experience, just be sure that the writers know that you HAVE experience.

7. You Forgot the “Call to Action”

With your idea now engrained into the heads of editors and writers, the most important step of the process can take place. Finish up your release with a call to action. Make yourself available to the publications for an interview, follow up questions or any other information that they might need. Make sure to include your home phone number, cell phone number and e-mail address at the end of the release. The more contact information they have for you the better. Also, make sure to keep an eye on the targeted publications after an interview or article placement. Many publications will run the piece and will forget to let you know. You could be published and not even know it, so make it a habit to use Internet searches to check for any publication that you might be in.

The press release is a useful and important tool in the world of publicity, but it can also be overlooked if not done properly. With a little extra time and a well planned idea, you can craft a press release that will give you the best chance of being noticed by writers and editors. Avoid the pitfalls of press release writing and you could see yourself getting ink in publications in no time.

Pam Lontos is owner of PR/PR, a public relations firm that specializes in professional speakers, authors, and experts. Having been an author, speaker, and former VP of Disney’s Shamrock Broadcasting, she knows the ropes of getting you good publicity and how to use it to really boost your business. Call for a free consultation at (407) 299-6128, and sign up for a free publicity tips e-newsletter at