press releases

An editor’s viewpoint from both sides

By: Allison Pless, TrizCom PR

I can’t speak for other editors, and this may just be a weird quirk on my part, but one of the things that I enjoy about editing is the wide variety of topics I get to read about. I also appreciate a well-written piece.

Whether you’re with a PR firm or are an individual writing your own press releases, don’t skip on editing.

That means, at the very least, having someone other than the person writing the release look it over. You can catch some obvious errors that way, such as an extra or missing word in a sentence or an incorrect word choice (for example: here, hear).

As a former editor of a community newspaper who received dozens of press releases and media alerts on a weekly basis, I quickly learned which PR agencies or individuals sent items that I wouldn’t have to spend much time on. Often times, I was primarily editing to make the information fit in the space we had.

What makes a difference to an editor? Following are my top pet peeves:

  1. Have your work edited. If you’re the writer, does your PR agency have someone who is responsible for checking written materials before they’re sent out or posted? This isn’t exclusive to press releases and media alerts. Don’t forget about websites and other digital media. It only takes one misspelled word, a missing word, etc., to create a potential problem.
     
  2. It’s not one and done. After an editor has reviewed your release, read it to see what edits were made. Not just for grammar and punctuation, but also wording changes. A sentence may be edited so that it reads better or makes more sense. Most importantly, it may be corrected to meet AP style guidelines. If you have standard language that is used for a particular client in everything that goes out for them, make sure you incorporate those changes into future work. Don’t keep sending an editor pieces that need the same wording changes over and over. If necessary, explain to the client why their wording was changed. Top Peeve
     
  3. Be natural. What you write needs to be easy to read and comprehend. Think approachable. It isn’t necessary to sound stiff and formal and use wording that doesn’t come naturally in everyday speech. While you want to avoid lengthy run-on sentences, paragraph after paragraph of short, choppy sentences doesn’t flow either.  
     
  4. Too much information. Find the balance between including enough information to gain someone’s interest and sharing too much. As a rule, a three-page release is going to be too long. Most news is written with Joe Q Public in mind, and an overload of detail is a turnoff

An editor is tasked with making sure your written words are grammatically correct and properly punctuated, that they convey your message in a clear manner. Failing to have releases and alerts edited, and sending out sloppy work, could make the difference in whether your news is even given serious consideration. The devil is in the details.

Allison is the editor for TrizCom Public Relations

From national industry leaders and Dallas-Fort Worth’s largest companies to startups and growing enterprises, TrizCom PR provides public relations and social media services to a wide variety of businesses encompassing startup, healthcare, lifestyle brands, B2B, energy, tech, entertainment, food/beverage and beyond. TrizCom PR has a dynamic track record of local, regional, national and international media placements on behalf of its clients that, if monetized, would equal hundreds of millions of dollars. In 2014 and 2015, TrizCom PR has been named in the top 25 of PR Firms by Dallas Business Journal. TrizCom PR is a Certified Woman Owned Business Corporation (NWBOC). For more information on TrizCom PR call 972-247-1369 or visit www.TrizCom.com.

Allison’s contact information:
O: 972-247-1369
E: Allison@TrizCom.com

Nine reasons your press release didn’t work

By: Martin Stein, Pitch PR Powered By TrizCom PR

Back in 1906, there was a train crash in Atlantic City that killed over 50 people. The publicist for the railroad, a man named Ivy Lee, convinced his client to let him issue a statement to the media that described the accident from the company’s standpoint. The New York Times editors liked it so much that they ran it verbatim in their paper.

Since that day of the first press release, companies so regularly turn to this tactic that around 2,000 are distributed via press release services (aka “the wire”) every day. Given that the number of working journalists continues to shrink, that means that every reporter you’re trying to reach is probably getting between 100 and 200 releases per day—at a minimum.

With numbers like that, the odds of your press release being acted upon are slim and getting worse as time goes by. Here are X reasons why your press release didn’t receive the same treatment as Lee’s in 1906.

1. It’s not news
Lee’s press release was about people dying. If yours was about a new website or moving your offices downtown, it’s not quite on the same level. For some guidelines as to how to judge your story’s news value, check out our blog post here.

2. You sent it to the wrong person
Like any other large industry, the news media has specialists and niche products. Some reporters cover outdoor wear but not evening wear. Some outlets write about neighborhood news while others only concern themselves with regional or state developments. In other words, be sure you’re sending your release to exactly the right person and outlet.

3. Your headline or subject line is terrible
When a reporter is looking at her inbox, she is not seeing your full press release. She’s seeing your name, a subject line and maybe a couple first lines. If your subject line or headline aren’t stopping the reporter in her tracks, you’re headed for the trash.

 4. Your first paragraph is terrible
If your first paragraph, also called the “lede” paragraph, doesn’t continue to hold the reporter’s attention after she’s stopped what she’s doing and opened your email, you’re headed for the trash. Guess what happens if your second paragraph is terrible? Every sentence and paragraph needs to be constructed to keep the reader’s attention.

 5. You buried the lede
Simply put, the story about your company which you decided to write about was the wrong one, and the more important, newsworthy story is hidden further down in the release. Unfortunately, the reporter won’t read that far.

6. You sent it too late
Reporters do not sit in their chairs, their feet up on their desks, throwing pencils at the ceiling. They are overworked and underpaid. They are working on stories assigned that morning and ones assigned months ago. And, they’re doing interviews and research for them all. If you’ve only given them a couple of days to react to your story, forcing them to drop everything, you’ve cut your odds from slim to (almost) none.

7. You sent it to everybody
If a journalist or blogger loves your story, one of the first questions will likely be, “Who else has it?” If your answer is their competition, be prepared to hear a click followed by a dial tone.

8. You didn’t follow up
As mentioned at the start, people in the media are flooded with releases and pitches. If you don’t follow up to see if they took a look at your story, there’s a high chance it’s been read and forgotten, even if it sparked some interest.

9. You followed up too much
If you send a release, then immediately call to see if the reporter got it, then email to let her know you just left a voicemail, and then maybe call again just to check, odds are your release went straight into the trash. Oh, and you’ve probably also had your number blocked and your email address added to a spam list.

Martin Stein is vice president of Pitch PR Powered by TrizCom PR

Pitch PR, a division of TrizCom PR, was created in partnership with The Dallas Entrepreneur Center (DEC) to assist startups & small business with their public relations needs. Through a unique partnership with the Dallas Entrepreneur Center (The DEC), Pitch PR is able to shepherd the communications objectives necessary for any PR strategy. Pitch PR admits that they are not one-size-fits-all; they can right-size according to the trajectory of the life in a startup environment. Pitch PR knows that media placement draws new customers as well as garners the attention of influencers, stakeholders and investors. Public Relations can shorten the awareness curve for brands. Pitch PR is geared for companies that have completed their initial funding round and believe in the possibility for high growth driven by powerful messaging in the media. From a simple PR 101 workshop, to a retainer-based strategy and action items to increase a brand’s public exposure, Pitch PR is ready to pitch and win. Ala carte services are available as well. For more information on Pitch PR call 972-247-1369 or www.PitchPR.co.  

Martin’s contact information: 
O: 972-247-1369
C: 972-215-6457
E: Martin@PitchPR.co
L: https://www.linkedin.com/in/martinlstein
T: https://twitter.com/DFW_Martin