Many small business owners ask us why their press release wasn’t picked up. Sometimes this can be because it was irrelevant to the journalists they targeted or that the story wasn’t ‘newsworthy’.
However, more often than not it will be small things that put the journalists off- mistakes that can be easily avoided by understanding what a journalist needs and by having someone other than you proofread the release.
Below we’ve listed 8 simple reasons your press release wasn’t picked up.
Spelling mistakes may seem like an obvious error, but they are very common in press releases.
Misspelling names, places and everyday words can illustrate to the journalist that the writer put little thought and effort into the release, and will put the journalist off spending their time reading your story.
Most spelling mistakes can be easily avoided by using a spell checker. Names may be less likely to appear on these though, so it is important to double check your spelling, especially when the person or place is well known.
Grammar and various homophones (words having the same pronunciation but different meanings and spellings) can often get mixed up when writing releases. For example, using the wrong version of your and you’re or two, to and too, will quickly get picked up by a journalist.
Incorrect grammar may not be highlighted on spell check, so it can be useful to use programmes such as Grammarly or have someone else check the release.
Quotes in press releases are a great way to backup information and share views on recent news events or industry updates. However, businesses frequently forget to attribute quotes to the relevant person meaning the journalist is less likely to use it. The reason being simply that they do not know who they are referencing therefore they cannot verify the comment.
When referencing a quote it is important to include the name of the person and their position within the company. For example, quotes from the founder or CEO may intrigue the journalist more. This is also necessary when responding to an editorial request.
Many businesses feel they need to make a press release a long document with as much information as possible. Remove the waffle. All the journalist really needs is precise and relevant information about why you’re contacting them.
Write the press release in simple and straightforward terms, 300 – 400 words maximum, avoiding buzz words and irrelevant filler content. If the journalist needs more information they can contact you.
No Contact Details
After sending your press release the journalist may need to find out more information, wish to interview someone from the business or need high-resolution images. Despite this, many businesses forget to include them in the release.
Journalists are very busy, working towards tight deadlines, and clearing 200 – 300 emails a day, meaning they haven’t got time to search for contact details. Therefore, they may not follow up on your story.
Include your email address and phone number in the ‘Notes to Editor’ section at the bottom. It is also helpful if you include the best time for you to talk to make sure they don’t waste their time trying to contact you.
It is important to remember that a piece of coverage is not a paid-for advert, so it won’t overtly sell your business. In the same instance, a press release is not a way to sell your business to the journalist.
The purpose of a press release is to give the journalist relevant information about a particular subject or story. To produce something ‘newsworthy’ that the publications readers and your potential customers would be interested in reading. Therefore, give the journalist interesting and personal insights into your business, rather than the price list.
All Capitals in Headlines
You need to make your press release
stand out in the journalist’s inbox. One way many businesses do this is to put
the headline in all capitals. However, numerous journalists have told us this
is one of their pet hates.
When putting a headline in all capitals it often feels like you’re shouting at the journalist and puts them off straightaway. Without even opening your email, it will be deleted. Therefore, to stand out in a journalist’s inbox you need to make your headline intriguing by referencing trending news stories and keeping it short.
Low Quality Images
It is essential to include an image with your press release, whether an image of your product, founder or stock image relevant to your content. This way the journalist will not have to waste time searching for a relevant image.
However, it is important to send a high resolution image rather than a thumbnail as they will not be able to use a low quality image in the publication. If the file is too large for an email send it via Dropbox or Google Docs.
By avoiding these 8 simple mistakes journalists will give more consideration to your press release and story, rather than discarding it straightaway. If you would like to see other reasons why you didn’t get coverage take a look at our blog: Why didn't I get coverage?
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Written By: Camilla Holroyd, Media Relations ExecutiveCamilla is the all-important portal between JournoLink's businesses and journalists; connecting them on a daily basis through press releases, Twitter engagements and editorial requests.