Sorry about my otaku with this issue (otaku = more than a hobby, a little less than an obsession).
Many of you may know me, since I run Imediafax, the Internet to Media Fax Service. I send out over a million news releases a year for people via fax and email. You probably think that I’ve got news releases failing on me day in and day out.
Actually, I don’t. The news releases I write and send out for people do quite well. My clients are quite happy with me because they are successful with their outreach efforts.
It’s the draft news releases that people send to me that are my problem.
Fixing the problems I see in the news releases people send me takes forever. It is also very painful.
I’ve seen a lot of news release failure over the years, and I now know what the key problems look like and how to fix them.
My plight as a publicist is that I spend a lot of time educating my clients trying to get them to understand the psychology of dealing with the media.
The rubber meets the road in the news release because this single sheet of paper is the key nexus for all communications with the media. The importance of the copy on a news release cannot be overstated. It has to be free of negative issues or factors that will reduce or eliminate media interest and response. One fatal error and it’s all over.
So identifying the problems and revising the news releases is crucial. I spend a tremendous amount of time and effort trying to avoid sending out news releases with problems still in them.
The issue is that when people send me news releases, it often takes a long, long time to identify and communicate the problems, and then more time again to explain and negotiate all the word changes with the clients, and more time still to finalize the news release and have it ready and approved for transmittal.
Honestly – it can be very painful for all involved. I’m quite brutal on my clients, since their success is all that matters. I don’t pull any punches. My comment process can bruise a lot of highly inflated egos of some otherwise very accomplished people, on the way to a problem free news release that maximizes the chances of success when finally sent. Lots of people think they can write a news release. Very few of them can do it very well.
They simply haven’t followed the media response to enough news releases to learn the errors that are made when they write news releases. They haven’t yet learned what the mistakes are, so there is no learning from continuous improvement.
This is where the blood, sweat and tears of the copywriting business is truly found. It gets even tougher when another professional publicist wrote the news release for the client. Now the client is getting opposing advice from two professionals. One says “Make it Hot” and the other says “Cool it”. What’s a publicist to do?
So my motivations for doing this article are really quite selfish. I want to spend less time doing this. My life will be significantly improved if my clients send me news releases that take less time and energy to fix. Very simply, for each and every news release that comes in and doesn’t have these problems, I’ll free myself to spend more time doing things that are more profitable for my clients and me.
The issues listed here have all been identified as reasons for the failure of a news release. This is based on over 20 years of experience in dealing with the aftermath – the actual number and quality of responses generated from the transmittal of a news release.
So here are the most common reasons why news releases fail:
1. You wrote an advertisement. It’s not a news release at all. It sells product. It fails to offer solid news of real tangible interest, value-added information, education or entertainment.
2. You wrote for a minority, not for a majority of people in the audience. You simply won’t compete with other news releases that clearly are written for a larger demographic of the media audience.
3. You are the center of attention, not the media audience. You focus on your business and your marketing, instead of things the editor and his or her audience will be interested in.
4. You forgot to put the five W’s up front. (WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and WHY THE AUDIENCE WILL BE INTERESTED). You didn’t clearly and succinctly tell the media why the audience would be interested in this.
5. You are too wordy and text dense. You focused on details and minutia, instead of the most important ideas, issues, factors, facts, and news angles. You fail to address the real significant impacts your story has on people.
6. You place too much information on one page – the one page news release has a font size so small an editor needs a magnifying glass to read it.
7. You included corporate logos and other non-persuasive low value added graphics that distract the editor from your key message. You may have also used an unusual fancy font or a file format that turns to gobbledygook when it goes through a fax machine.
8. You wrote a personally biased article for the media to publish, instead of pitching the idea to the media and the objective reasons why the media audience will be interested.
9. You wrote about features and facts, and forgot to explain what it means to real people. Tell a story about real people. Add in real life human interest.
10. You wrote about how your news ties in to someone else’s fame and glory. Forget it. Never stand in the shadow of someone else. Make your own light. Tell your own story.