8 News Release Mistakes to Avoid for Ad Agency PR Success

 

Image of laptopWhat’s the number one problem reporters have with public relations?

In a survey of more than 1,700 journalists and editors sponsored by Bulldog Reporter and Cision, 60% of them cited their biggest beef as the lack of relevance of the materials they received from corporate communications and PR professionals. Much of this information, they noted, is written like advertising, not journalism.

That’s a sure-fired way to have your news release or press kit trashed.

Ad agencies that want to be taken seriously by reporters should avoid these eight mistakes when writing a news release:

1. The “no news” news release. This is where you’re trying to get your agency or client some media coverage but without a real news hook. It’s better to hold off on your release until you have an appropriate angle to justify contacting a reporter. If you want some ideas on creative publicity topics, check out my “Ad Agencies Top 20 Topics for Publicity” post.

2. Puffery and exaggerated descriptions of people, events, products or services – followed by lots of exclamation marks!!!!!! Nothing screams amateur quite like that.

3. Platitudes and vague generalities.

4. Verbosity. It’s usually harder to write short, concise copy than long copy, but journalism is all about being succinct and to the point.

5. Stating things that are subjective and opinion-based as facts. If you want to include a statement that involves an opinion or judgment, turn it into a quote and attribute the statement to someone.

6. Writing about “pseudo” events that are contrived to get attention but have no real news value.

7. Consistently leading with the name of your boss in the headline or first paragraph.

8. Writing like an advertising copywriter instead of a journalist. (See journalists’ top concern above.) To be considered credible by the news media, you have to write your news release as objectively as possible, emphasizing its news value, connection to a trend or its human interest aspect. Use third-person pronouns and the active rather than passive voice.

photo credit: timsnell via photopin cc

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Journalists Survey Part 2

What’s the biggest concern that journalists have about materials they receive from corporate communications and public relations professionals? According to the new Bulldog Reporter/Cision Journalists Survey on Media Relations Practices, it’s that the information is written like advertising, not journalism.

Following closely behind is the complaint that the material is not relevant to their work.

In addition, half of responding journalists complained that e-mails from communications professionals don’t highlight why readers would care about the subject.

While nearly 70% of journalists surveyed rated PR and corporate communications professionals as substantially or extremely professional, when it comes to understanding their media outlets, 53% said communications professionals have only “some understanding.” Ouch.

Don Beehler provides public relations consulting services to small- and medium-sized advertising agencies and businesses.

Journalists Survey Has Good and Bad News for PR

There’s good news and bad news in a new media relations practices survey of more than 1,700 journalists and editors.

First, the good news: More than 90% of respondents say they rely on public relations for some of their story ideas.

The bad news: Nearly 60% say the relevance of the materials they receive comes up short, citing it as their top problem with PR.

The survey, which was sponsored by Bulldog Reporter
and Cision, contains some interesting information. Here’s a sample:

• Some 45% of journalists report that the communications professionals they work with don’t understand which subjects they cover.
• Nearly 27% say communications professionals don’t understand the subjects they are pitching.
• More than 30% report they cannot find information they need on corporate websites, and nearly 32% specifically say they can’t find the name and/or telephone number of a communications professional on the corporate website.

While these are embarrassing stats for PR professionals, they’re also fairly easy to correct. Learn as much as possible about a specific subject before contacting the reporter covering it, educate yourself on the subject you want to pitch, and then make it easy for reporters to contact you.

If you’ve ever had difficulty finding your way around a city and wondered why there wasn’t better signage, you’ll get an idea of the frustration a busy journalist experiences when trying to find what he or she needs on your ad agency’s or client’s website.

Take a few minutes to visit your site as if you’ve never been there before – how easy is it to find your way around? Then ask some other people outside your company to do the same thing. You may find your website needs a bit of work to make it more journalist friendly. Not a big deal to fix, but the payoff could be great.

Don Beehler provides public relations consulting services to small- and medium-sized advertising agencies and businesses.