Villing & Company

Top Ten Reasons Press Releases Fail

It has become a staple of late night television. David Letterman's "Top Ten List." Let's face it. No one watches "The Late Show" to see Paul Shaffer. We watch it to see what Dave has to say.

And after countless nights of staying up late and watching Dave, I have decided to write my own top ten list. It might not be as funny as Dave's, but hey, I don't have a staff of writers. Now I know how Paul feels. : (

Enough chitchat. For your enlightenment and entertainment, here are the top ten reasons press releases fail:

10. Exclamation point overload. Did you ever see that episode of "Seinfeld" where Elaine got in trouble for using too many of these!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!? Maybe I'm just cynical, but nothing in life is that exciting.

9. Quotes used in the release leave readers scratching their heads. "Platform key rotation with zero downtime provides corporations with a powerful tool to ensure security of infrastructure while complying with relevant data protection regulations with zero impact on core business activities." What??

8. The title is L-A-M-E. Such as, "Tape is Fun". I bet editors can't wait to get their hands on releases titled this way. (I hope you picked up on the sarcasm.)

7. They are boring and longwinded. I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that nobody, other than Tolstoy, has ever said anything interesting in a 70 word sentence.

6. Follow-up poorly executed. Have you ever sent a release and then two hours later called the editor/reporter asking if they received it? Bad move. After a release is sent, wait a few days before calling. If they don't show interest and you can't diplomatically convince them otherwise, move on.

5. It's not relevant. You know the old saying, "the more mud you throw at the wall, the more will stick". Definitely not true in PR. Quality trumps quantity every time.

4. It's not newsworthy. If a journalist had to choose between a ribbon cutting ceremony or watching grass grow they would probably choose…I'll let you answer this one.

3. Violating the sanctity of news journalism's five W's. You know, WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY. If the essential information isn't provided, that's probably the reason the release failed.

2. The release was sent to the wrong person. When sending a release it's important to know what beats editors and reporters cover. I don't think Katie Couric really cares about an underwater basket weaving competition in Nowheresville, USA.

And the number one reason press releases fail is…

1. It wasn't proofread. This is one of the most common mistakes in press release writing. Think of it this way. The release may be the only chance to tell an editor or reporter about an important event or announcement. If it's not proofread properly and is sent with a mistake, the credibility of the release goes down the drain, along with the credibility of the person who wrote it.

Filed Under: public relations

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