Are your press releases as effective as you think they are?
A strong press release plays a vital role in your digital marketing communications. Creating press releases that are eye-catching and engaging is key to the success of your marketing campaigns.
The trouble is most copywriters and marketers feel they have a knack for writing effective press releases. The reality is, writing an effective press release isn’t as easy as it looks.
If you want your press releases to be effective, you need to brush up on your writing skills. Here are the top ten mistakes to avoid when creating press releases.
What Exactly Is a Press Release?
Press releases are statements designed to share information, make announcements, or be an official statement about a topic. They’re given to news outlets and media to share with the general population or a target audience.
Most press releases consist of nine main parts:
- The headline
- Logo or letterhead
- Contact information
- About section or boilerplate
- Closing and CTA (call to action)
Since the introduction of the internet, press releases have been evolving at a rapid rate. What formulas worked 20 years ago are now outdated and ineffective.
Today, marketers create press releases to help with their digital marketing strategy. They help tell the story of your business’s brand. The goal behind this is to establish authority in your industry while building trust with your target audience.
Are press releases a necessary part of your marketing campaigns? The answer is yes.
Press releases make your target audience aware of the new products, services, or events happening at your business. They provide your audience with vital information, who to contacts, and quotes.
Today, marketing teams are no longer crafting effective press releases. Instead, they create their press releases as an afterthought—and it shows.
Including press releases in your marketing plans doesn’t always mean they’re effective. Avoid these ten mistakes to make your press release catchy and memorable.
1. The Boring Headline
The very first part of a press release your audience will see is the headline. These few words have the power to entice your audience or turn them away.
Unfortunately, most headlines are turning viewers away.
Why? Because they are boring. If the title is boring, the content can’t be much better.
Your press release will mix with other press releases when you submit it to news outlets and media. Journalists will sift through the releases looking for headlines that are catchy and resonate with their audience. If your headline doesn’t make the cut, it won’t make it on most news outlets.
What if you’re using an online platform to share your press releases? In most cases, your press release will make it to your target audience but that doesn’t mean your audience will read them. A boring headline will turn your audience away.
The other headline mistake PR writers often make is giving away too much information. If you share too much information, your audience won’t feel the need to read on.
Focus on creating headlines that are engaging but leave the audience wanting to read more.
2. A Story That Isn’t Newsworthy
Does your press release story add value or interest to your target audience? Is new and exciting?
A common mistake businesses make is sharing news in their press releases that isn’t new or exciting. Either their target audience is already aware of the topic or it doesn’t add any value.
Steer clear of topics you’ve effectively covered or don’t offer anything new. These stories will come off as self-serving cries for attention that may turn your audience away. Focus on newsworthy stories that will resonate and add value to your target audience.
3. A Lack of Information
A big mistake many PR writers make is assuming their audience knows everything about them. They’ll leave out valuable details and facts about the business or the news story.
This can leave some of your target audience feeling confused. Most journalists won’t take the time to edit your press release if it’s missing certain information. In these cases, they’ll skip over your press release and look for something more complete.
Always include as much necessary information as you can into your stories. In the first paragraph, add a summary of your business. Include items such as your location, your company name, and the angle of your story.
News journalists shouldn’t have to reach out to you to request more information. When you share a news press, make sure it contains all the important details, contact information, and relatable media.
4. Creating Press Releases That Are Too Promotional
While it should go without saying, proofreading your press release is necessary. The main reason is to catch grammatical and typographical errors.
The other reason is to check the voice and angle of your press release. Does the press release sound like a sales pitch?
The purpose of your press release is to inform your audience of recent news about your business. Yes, your press release should be promotional but not sound like a sales-filled advertisement. Focus on keeping the content of the press release engaging and informative.
5. You Chose the Wrong Writing Style
A press release is like a mini news story. Press releases wrote in a style that sounds boring or like an advertisement won’t make the cut.
Many journalists (and your target audience) may mistake your press release for spam. They also won’t have the patience to wait until the end of the release to finally come across the facts.
Do you want your press release to stand out? You’ll need to write it in the right style.
Make your press release read more like an informative news article by writing in third-person. Writing your release in first-person will make it sound like a sales pitch.
You’ll want to skip the Oxford comma and follow writing guidelines established by the Associated Press or AP. If you plan to pull out quotes, use statements that are engaging but don’t repeat other aspects of your press release.
Focus on an angle that shows your audience how your news will benefit them. Use quotes from customers and other impartial sources to boost the credibility of your brand.
6. Relying Too Heavily On Distribution Platforms
The days of using websites to blast your press release to multiple journalist inboxes are gone. You can no longer rely on the distribution platform to automatically share your press releases.
Yet, many businesses continue to rely on one distribution platform to generate quality coverage.
The other big mistake is using sub-par distribution platforms. Sure, there are distribution platforms that will offer a great deal to share your press releases. This doesn’t mean they’re reaching quality audiences.
If you want to reach better audiences and drive more people to your website, you’ll need to invest in a quality distribution service. Reputable services will give you the tools and options to ensure your release reaches your target audience.
Does your current distribution service allow you to customize your target audience? If not, your press releases are almost the equivalent of a social media post.
Larger brands can benefit from sending their press releases to hundreds of different platforms. Smaller businesses can benefit from distribution platforms. Forming relationships with local journalists and news media can be more beneficial.
Think you might need a better distribution platform? Check out this guide to learn more about a reputable distribution service designed to fit your needs.
7. Not Optimizing Your Press Release
Your press releases are no longer primarily printed on paper. Most news media have shifted to the digital age.
What does this mean for you? It gives you the flexibility to share your press releases on multiple digital channels. This includes your website, social media, and news outlets. By posting your press release on more channels, you’ll reach a much larger audience.
The problem is most brands forget to optimize their press releases for multiple channels. Once you whip up a press release with a headline, important information, and some contact information, it’s good to go, right?
While this worked a decade ago, it no longer works today.
To optimize your press release you’ll need to reformat it to fit various channels. This includes adding imagery and media. The formatting of your press release for social media posts will have different formatting than what you share with news outlets.
Social media is an excellent place to share big announcements. Viewers can share your press release and grow your audience through the use of hashtags. Build interest by sharing teaser amounts of information on your social media accounts.
If you’re adding press releases to your website—which you should— you’ll need to reformat them to fit your website. You can create a separate “News” or “Press” page or rewrite your press releases to fit the blog format.
Current and potential customers and investors will find the news section useful when learning about your brand.
8. Skipping the Analytics
Do you know what people are enjoying about your press releases?
To keep offering engaging press release content, you need to know what’s working and not working with your press releases. One formula may have worked in the past, but that doesn’t mean it’s working now.
Marketing analytics can share the details regarding the demographic of your target audience and how they interact with your press release posts. You’ll find data about which posts created the most engagement and which ones didn’t do so well.
Use this information to set goals to continue reaching your target audience. Talk with your marketing team or individual in charge of managing the analytics of campaigns. They can give you valuable insight on how to grow your press release’s audience and boost SEO.
9. Terrible Timing
A crucial aspect of the success of your press release is knowing when to time it.
There are a couple of different aspects to this. The first is to post your announcement on a day or a time that doesn’t conflict with another major news story.
If there’s a major news story regarding a wildfire, for example, it may not be the best time to share your brand’s news. Not paying attention to major news stories can make your brand appear ignorant or uncaring.
If you’re unsure whether it’s appropriate to share your press release, wait. It’s best to wait and see how you can edit your news story to fits into the community.
The other part is picking a day when people are likelier to see and read your press release. Like with social media posts, press releases have days, typically Tuesdays and Thursdays that offer greater viewings.
If you’re unsure, you can conduct your own research by sharing your press releases on different days. Use your analytics to find which days and times tend to show the most views and engagement.
10. Where’s the CTA?
You’re taking the time to share an exciting news announcement about your business. You include all of the important facts, a catchy headline, and contact information. The biggest mistake PR writers make is forgetting the call to attention or CTA.
What do you want the reader to do with this information? Including a CTA will build engagement and create more interest in your brand.
The CTA will depend on the content of your press release. A few popular CTAs include:
- Linking to or mentioning a specific product
- Signing up for newsletter
- Check out a new service
Digital press releases should include a clear anchor text describing where the link will take the reader when they click it. Avoid taking your viewers to your website’s homepage.
The goal is to foster transparency with your audience and your CTA should share that.
Start Creating Press Releases That Work!
Press releases can be valuable tools in your digital marketing strategy. But only when you write them well.
Creating press releases to share your brand’s exciting news can be easy. By avoiding these ten major mistakes, you’ll make effective press releases your target audience will enjoy.
Do you want to keep your business on top in your industry? Check out our latest Business articles to learn more great ways you can grow your business.