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Friday, May 26, 2006

A very common press release error...Stop selling...A shameless plug...

I like to read other press releases occasionally. I don't target anything in particular, I just like to look for good examples of releases and to study and refine techniques for writing effective press releases. That may sound mildly disturbed, bu writing releases is a growing part of my workload and that means I feel the need to stay on top of the genre.

When I notice a particularly good release, I will Google a bit and find out if it appears to have met with a great deal of success in terms of producing actual coverage. When I see a weak press release, I do the same thing just to confirm my suspicions. It's interesting... After a while you can almost "sense" which ones will work and which one's will fall flat.

Well, I have noticed one press release error that really crushes effectiveness. It's a common blunder. Those releases that do too much selling cannot get any traction with respect to coverage.

Here's what happens. People recognize that press releases can be used to garner attention and as part of a PR/marketing strategy. Do-it-yourselfers bring that marketing and sales perspective to their press releases. They approach them as advertising instead of media outreach. Freelance writers who aren't well-versed in writing press releases do the same thing--perhaps in hopes of appeasing a client who is pushing for a way to sneak his or her sales copy into media hands.

This is a disaster. The gatekeepers disregard the sales pieces. They are bombarded with copy disguised as news and can smell it the second it hits their faxes or in-boxes. The only thing one can hope to get out of a release like that is a series of non-reciprocal links and a posted ad few (except for oddballs like me who read press releases for the sake of reading press releases) at the distribution sites themselves. No one is going to pick up that release, translate into a legit story and open the PR floodgates.

One needs to use a littley subtlety and to fight off the urge to use their hard-sell copywriting tricks when working with press releases.

That's the observation. Here's the shameless plug. I write press releases and my clients love them and the results they achieve. If you need a good press release, feel free to contact me. If you are one of those gung-ho do-it-yourselfers who just can't bring himself or herself to outsourcing your job, or if you are a writer who wants to do more press release work or to improve your strategy, just follow this handy link to Front Page News. It's a handy guide to writing good press releases. It isn't an encyclopedia of press release minutiae. Instead, it is a simple, no-frills guide to writing press releases with great structure, organization, content and voice. There are some other good tips in there, as well.

NOTE: The last day for the Front Page News introductory sales price was supposed to be yesterday. I am going to keep it at that price until I have the chance to fixt the page today. So, if you act quick, you can still save some money.