You know that PR is valuable. You’re on board, you’re bought in. You get it. But no matter how hard you try, no matter how many you write and how many people you send them out to, your press releases just aren’t being picked up. Why? We can think of a few reasons.
You’ve written a promo flyer
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again. Stop writing a sales pitch and pretending it is news! The media are categorically not interested in how much money you make. Or how many clients you serve. Or how wonderful you generally consider yourself, your product or your service to be. If you repeatedly try to sell that to a journalist, you will most likely find yourself on the dreaded ‘blacklist’ and on every subsequent phone call, be swiftly directed to the advertising team. Who will, funnily enough, print whatever you want them to. As an advert. For a cost. Genuine news can sometimes feel like it’s hard to find in your business but trust us, it’s there.
Find the human element in your story; the difference you make, the people behind the particular success or the way in which what you have to say can help others. This strategy is far more likely to bear fruit and will go a long way to building trust and credibility for your brand. Not only with your target audiences but with the right media contacts too.
You’ve no idea who you are sending it to
Please, please don’t be that person who sends a blanket bcc’d email out to hundreds of contacts that you either bought (definitely don’t do that these days!) or that you scraped from websites and your contact list without so much as second glance at their particulars. Take the time to build a media list made up of the right contacts in the right outlets. It’s no good sending a story about your latest award win to the sports reporter or an advice guide to the education correspondent – unless it’s about education of course.
The point is, be strategic, do your research and be personal. Public relations is about building relationships. The clue is in the name! The best advice we can give you in this area is to pick up the phone and actually speak to people before getting as far as sending an email. You’d be amazed what you will learn and how it will impact what you end up sending to them.
You’ve written it for you, not them
Another all too common pitfall is writing a press release that YOU want to write or read – whichever way you want to look at it. Unfortunately, more often than not, you are not your target audience. On top of this, most people will write a press release without first reading the publication in which they truly hope to be featured. In this case, even if your release contains some valuable, engaging content, it could be in completely the wrong style for the outlet in question. This means more work for the editorial team as they have to potentially rewrite or reframe your work to match their house style.
Are you sending a standard press release when they usually feature Q&As or interview-led content? Are you sending in copy in the first person when they always write in the third? Getting this stuff right in advance significantly improves your chances of securing coverage because you’re making it easy for people to hit the magical ‘copy, paste’ buttons.
If you’re guilty of one or more of these and haven’t been having much luck, now you know why. Try turning over a new leaf and let us know how you get on.