12 Common Press Release Distribution Mistakes
Guest post by Kristine Morana. Kristine is a Content Specialist with VAAM.com and was in no way compensated for the publishing of this post. Harvester Solutions has not tried or used any services provided by Kristine’s company.
Mistakes in press release distribution are very common. It is the top reason why a lot of pitches are getting ignored and rejected.
When done the right way, it can help your business reach your business goals. Self-promotion is often the common error done by many businesses. They focus too much on endorsing their business that they forget that the way to get publicity is to become valuable to their target audience.
To provide useful releases, avoid these mistakes that would increase your chance of getting you media coverage:
1. Pitching irrelevant news.
It’s a great mistake to pitch a story that is only relevant to a company. Always pitch a story that is relevant to the audience you are targeting.
It must be relevant to the media and to their readers. They should care about the topic that you are sharing. If it isn’t useful for the press, it would be just ignored or rejected.
Without research, you may be pitching to the wrong media. You may be pitching your technology story to a fashion journalist. It’s a no-brainer.
Your story is irrelevant and would just be deleted. A relevant news story benefits the readers of your target journalist.
2. No coordination.
One mistake that a marketer does in distributing press releases is no proper coordination. After writing and editing a great content, you sent it for distribution across the newswires and the media.
You include one or two links that land to your homepage. Doing this step without considering how you would track the campaign is a wrong move.
You should have an analytics team that will monitor the interest to your site. They can provide UTM tracking code to track your URLs.
You can also have your SEO analyst check the search volumes and site visits prior, during and after the campaign. Without monitoring, you are wasting your time and effort because you don’t even know the results.
3. Pitching to wrong reporters.
A lot of people does this mistake. They send pitches to reporters, whom they don’t even know if that reporter is writing the same type of story.
Before planning any content marketing strategy, make sure to do your research. Search what kind of story the journalist is currently working on, the type of story they are interested in, and what they have recently covered.
You must reach out to them. Build relationships before approaching them about your story. It’s necessary to establish rapport on social media sites first. This will help you collect information about them, including their beat, stories, media coverage, interests and audience.
4. No news value.
A lot of pitches have been ignored by the press due to the lack of news value. Keep in mind that journalists are only going to pick newsworthy stories.
When it is newsworthy, your target audience should have a reason to care about your news. A lot of releases fail to include this value.
They have been too focused on their product, service or event, without thinking that their content should provide benefits to the audience. Always put yourself in their shoes.
Why the media and the readers should care? Give them a reason to do it.
5. Failure to provide a journey.
Readers surely want to learn about the brand more extensively. They want to know what a company is, what it offers, how they do differ from other brands, why they would choose them over others, and how they could make purchasing decisions.
A release should have one or two links that lead to the website’s page. Make sure that you test every link you included in the content. It should be working and lands on the appropriate page.
Do not go overboard with links. Too many links can harm your reputation as a trustworthy brand.
6. Too lengthy.
Releases should be between 300 and 500 words only, not longer than that. It should fit the standard newsprint.
Avoid unnecessary words like buzzwords, adjectives and industry jargons. They don’t add meaning to the story.
Follow the standard structure of crafting releases. Following the format helps you write a concise story that doesn’t exceed the required length.
It is a common mistake for some PR professionals and startups to craft a release longer than what is necessary. Get to the point when writing your content.
Do not add adjectives because it is not advertising. Do not add flowery words. Keep it factual.
7. Not personalized.
Journalists don’t just want a story idea. They prefer a pitch that has an introduction. Create a customized pitch.
Personalizing a pitch is one way for them to measure how well you prepared it. They want to know if you care about their interest, and if you have studied their requirements.
They don’t have a lot of time to spend reading and checking each and every pitch they receive. If you did your assignment, they will not have a hard time evaluating it.
Make their work easier. A personalized pitch is something they expect. If you know their standards, it is easy for them to assess the newsworthiness of your content.
They should see that the headline, subheading and the lead provides a newsworthy idea. If not, they will automatically disregard you and find something better.
8. No format.
A release follows a structure. It is written in a professional way, following the journalistic style of writing.
The headline is written in the most interesting way that will grab the media’s attention. A subheadline supports the headline and add more idea to the story.
Next is the lead paragraph, where the 5 W’s (what, who, where, when, why) and H (how) of the story is written. Journalists assess the newsworthiness of the content by checking the key facts in the first paragraph.
The body of the releases contains one to two paragraphs that support the key facts. Additional details are written in these paragraphs.
Include one to two quotes that provide a human element to your story. Quotes should come from someone who is affected by your announcement. They could be your company CEO or president or a third-party source like your customers.
Quotes are written in the first person. Proper attribution should be observed. It should provide opinions of the people involved in the story and not facts.
After quotes, your release should include a boilerplate. It is the “About Us” statement that tells the company behind the story. It should provide information about the brand, including their mission. If you have achievements, include the most significant one.
Lastly, a media contact provides the media a way to contact the company behind the announcement. Include the contact’s name and position, contact number, email address, mailing address and social media handles.
Journalists interested about your story should be able to contact your brand if ever they need something. They may need additional images, a high definition video or a new quote. Whatever it is, make sure that the media contact is available to help.
9. It has a lot of mistakes.
A release stuffed with spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes doesn’t get media coverage. Journalists aren’t interested with a content that has a several misspelled words or wrong grammar.
They expect that you have written it professionally. If you’re not sure about your work, have someone to check it for you. You can also run it through an online app that checks these errors.
10. No visuals.
Today, releases are social media ready. It contains visual assets, including images, video or infographics, pull-out quotes and campaign URLs.
A content that has these elements get more reads and shares. Keep in mind that audiences are tired of full text releases. They search for a more engaging content that is easier to scan.
In fact, studies have shown that releases with images or videos have higher engagement rates. People love reading content that stimulates their mind. Provide high quality visuals in every release.
11. No context and personality.
Journalists receive a lot of pitches that have a boring tone and lacks personality. Stay away from being too formal that your story is no longer interesting to read.
Instead of just writing, “Our company is releasing a new product x in the market,” include the current market scenario. Describe it. Show how your product differs in the market or how it solves the issues.
Use a conversational tone of voice, while still providing the key facts. Don’t forget to offer a newsworthy and relevant story.
12. Writing an advertisement.
It’s common for PR professionals to craft a release focused on their brand. They promote their company and products too much that they forget to provide a story.
A story is what provides a connection. An overly promoted press release seems like you are doing a hard sell. A release is not a sales pitch.
It is a story that provides value to the readers. Although it is a promotional tool, it shouldn’t be written as an ad.
Avoid these 12 mistakes in distributing releases. If you are aware of these errors, you have a better chance to land publicity. You’ll have a wider exposure.
You can get your news in front of your target audience. Always follow the best practices to have a better outcome in your content marketing campaign.