We think so, but you be the judge. Read this leading publicist’s 20 reasons why news releases fail. We couldn’t help but add Reason #21 which we call “P.R. Butterflies.”
1. You wrote an advertisement, not a news release. It sells product. It fails to offer solid news of tangible interest, education or entertainment. If you send an editor an ad, don’t be surprised if the only media person to call you is the advertising manager offering you a package deal. You get what you ask for.
2. You made yourself the center of attention, not the needs of the media audience. You focus on your business and your marketing instead of what the editor and his/her audience will be interested in.
3. You forgot to put the five W’s up front. (WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and WHY the audience will be interested).
4. You are too wordy and text dense. You focused on details and minutia, instead of the most important ideas, issues, factors, facts, and news angles.
5. You place too much information on one page – your one-page news release is in a font size so small an editor needs a magnifying glass to read it.
6. You wrote an article with your personal biases.
7. You wrote about features and facts but neglected to include what it means to the readers.
8. Your news piggybacks on someone else’s fame and glory. Forget it. Never stand in the shadow of anyone else. Make your own light.
9. Your news release responds to something that already happened. You’re too late. You’re behind the eight ball. Get out in front of the news.
10. You included too much hype, self-laudatory praise, useless testimonials, jargon or gobbledygook. Get rid of it.
11. You mention prior media coverage, which means other media got the scoop! Do you honestly think a publication will promote its competitor?
12. You tried to impress and be clever or innovative but you come across as naïve, less than expert, biased, flippant, arrogant or crazy. Tone it down.
13. You made vague and unsubstantiated claims, or wild and outrageous claims. Get rid of them.
14. You wrote a rant and rave, worthy of a letter to the editor, instead of a problem-solving tips article, worthy of a feature story. Decide what you want, and put your best effort into it.
15. You are simply not credible. Maybe your ideas are not well thought out or you offered old material. You may be too extreme or controversial. You need to present information that qualifies you properly and adequately.
16. You provided poor contact information. You need to identify the best single contact and the correct phone number so interested media can reach you and get the best possible attention and response from you to meet their needs. That means one key person, one phone, one email address and one URL. No need to bog down the release with your fax number.
17. You did not include a clear call for action. You need to tell the media what you are asking for, suggesting or offering. Then offer the media a value-added reason to do so, such as a free review copy; free test sample; interview questions and answers; a media kit with story angles; stats and data; relevant photographs; etc.
18. You sent the release to the wrong media. Target the media that your clients read, watch and listen to, and are willing to take action when they get your message. Work with your publicist to target the right media.
19. You rely on a single fax or an email to produce an avalanche of media calls. You fail to follow up. If you follow up properly, you will triple or quadruple your media response rate.
20. The biggest reason for news release failure is one of attitude. How do you define success or failure? Don’t set unrealistic expectations. You won’t get rich off one news release. Your chances of getting famous are just about as slim. You might be able to break even. If you get one or two quality media responses, it’s a success.
# 21 from the editors of Trade Show Executive magazine: You behave like a p.r. butterfly [a cousin of the social butterfly]. In the quest to get widespread publicity, you flap around with every writer or editor to maximize your coverage. Suggestion: either develop a close relationship with the most important editor/writer in your industry or give each one a different angle.
Krupin cautioned that even if you do get publicity, it may not come out exactly the way you want it. The bigger the media, the less likely they are to publish your release. However, sending a release and following up may be a springboard to future coverage.
Practicing what he preaches (specifically in Tip #17), Krupin told me that he would assist the readers of Trade Show Executive with their press releases. He asks that you write a news release and review it against the 20 criteria noted above. “If you’ve made any of these errors, fix them,” he says. “When you are done, feel free to send me your final draft. I’ll be happy to take a look at it.”
Paul J. Krupin is the author of the book Trash Proof News Releases and creator of IMEDIAFAX – The Internet to Media Fax Service. His service transmits news releases to custom targeted media lists via fax and e-mail. Reach Krupin at (800) 457-8746 or paul@Imediafax. Web address: http://www.imediafax.com.