June 11, 2013
Five Reasons Your Press Release Got Rejected
In the world of public relations, there is no sweeter achievement than the perfectly timed, masterfully worded press release. If done right, your story will be immediately carried to the world, and control of the news cycle will be yours. Victory means the story will be carried how you want it interpreted, ensuring PR success.
However, most press releases get filed immediately in the T-drawer (the “T” stands for trash). Fortunately, public relations phenom and CEO of 5W Public Relations, Ronn Torossian, has highlighted the five reasons that your press release was just rejected and how to fix the problem.
Weak, Uninteresting Headline
The first thing a journalist will read when receiving a press release is the headline. If that doesn’t immediately catch the imagination and feed the desire to read the rest of the release, it will be dumped in favor of something that does. Like any kind of writing, you have to grab the reader instantly, or else you’re lost.
It’s Too Long
The first rule of a press release is to keep it pithy. Depending on the size of the news agency, they could see dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of press releases on any given day. Experienced public relation firms know that if the release is too long and involved to get a sense of in less than a minute, there’s a much higher likelihood that it gets dumped.
Not Enough Information
Most news outlets are pressed enough for time as it is. Unless you’re release is announcing the kind of story that breaks once a decade, the media just does not have time to run down the issuer of said release and play 20 questions. Followups on good press do happen; but if you don’t give them the full who, what, where, when, how, why, and reason it’s newsworthy, don’t expect that phone to ring.
A press release is almost always issued to alert the press to an event. Whether it’s a grand opening, a political announcement, a jury ruling, or a bake sale, there is an element of human interest in it. As highlighted in the last point, with cutbacks in the news industry, most journalists and researchers don’t have the time to follow up a story with questions and quotes. Making sure your quote is packaged in the press release ensures that there’s article filler and makes it easier to carry the story.
Spelling and grammatical errors can happen, especially when rushing to get a press release out. Minimizing them is important, but no one is perfect. However, if the press release reads like a fourth-grader wrote it, don’t expect the New York Times to publish it. Writing, especially for mass consumption, is an art and requires that the effort put in reflects the seriousness of the writer and the story being pitched.
Follow these rules, and your next press release will be a public relations coup instead of a PR disaster.
Here are 4 more tips from Ronn Torossian on press release writing.