10 things not to do in a news release

by mo on February 26, 2013

Someone shared former reporter’s Keith Yaskin’s list of 10 things that irks him in news releases.  Much of his list hits on the use of an old format for releases that stems from the days we snail-mailed them. I agree, much of that format does not make a great deal of sense now in the day of email. That said, there are many reporters out there without Mr. Yaskin’s experience, working in smaller community publications and online media that really do need to have things s-p-e-l-l-e-d out for them in detail.

What I do like on his list comes at the end; numbers 8-10. Often, I have been in a position to tell a client that there is no news in their news release not matter how you slice it. This can be the hardest lesson for a small business that has as it goal to just “get some press.”

8.There wasn’t a local angle.

The news release was sent from New York, and did not give reporters a reason why they should interview an out-of-town expert. Reporters interested in the topics could likely find local education experts. Either persuade reporters to interview someone from out of town or offer a local representative.

Someone in town for a conference or event  does open up an opportunity for publicity but usually without #9 below it is a fool’s errand.

9.The news release wasn’t personal.

The release did not offer a local parent to interview about the education topics. Personalize news releases. Share stories of real people.

The outside expert can have a great reputation but why would you lose the opportunity to localize the story to your business or cause? It takes some work to localize it  and while this can be described derisively as “doing the reporter’s work” why wouldn’t one do it? Without it, any reporter has another 50 releases to rifle through that do speak to his or her readers. Any reporter can see through a situation where there is no solid connection between the outside expert and the local business.

10.The news release raised a question.

It made me ask myself: Wouldn’t building relationships with reporters work better than somewhat randomly sending out news releases?

This is the bottom line lesson, but it can be hard for many smaller organizations. Having news worthy of inclusion in traditional media can be sporadic at best, leaving relationship building to the sidelines. The good news is that a strong  social media plan can help build these relationships over time and eliminate the desire to send out random news releases that share no real news hoping something will stick.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Matt Braun February 27, 2013 at 9:23 am

Great wisdom and perspective as usual, Mo!

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