In his intro to today’s (02/04/10) Reporter Connection email, Steve Harrison made a point about press releases that I thought was worth sharing with you. (Reporter Connection, by the way, is a free media leads service you should subscribe to if you want to know who’s looking for experts to interview and quote; more info here: www.ReporterConnection.com/JoinNowFree/)
Steve Harrison wrote: “Most press releases commit the same unpardonable sin. Last weekend at my church a woman got up and spoke. She droned on and on for ten minutes. I looked around and people were all but falling asleep because she hadn’t done what was necessary to get everyone’s attention. That’s the mistake so many people make when writing press releases, emails and pitch letters. They should start by answering the most important question that really matters to the media and stick to it. That question is “Who cares?” So XYZ Company hires a new manager. Who cares? An author releases a new book. Who cares? Answer that before you write anything more. Got it? Then get to it.”
Amen to that! If you want your press releases to trigger any action on an editor’s part (besides hitting the “Delete” key), you’ve got to overcome the “so what?” factor. In your headline and first paragraph, you must make it absolutely clear why the editor (and by extension, the editor’s audience) should care about your news. A word to the wise: if you are sending a version of your release directly to your market or audience, the same rule still applies.
If you need help turning your press release from a sinner into a winner, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.