Press Releases: The Ugly Duckling of PR Tools
I’ve written my fair share of press releases and media alerts in my PR career. What I consider to be common sense and best practice may not be so for everyone, but the number of shocking press releases I’ve seen from brands is enough to make me cringe. Press releases have morphed into an ugly duckling that’s neglected until a brand seeks attention for something they deem important – and which other people simply don’t.
Let’s take a step back and define what a press release actually is. It’s a PR tool that is used as an announcement of newsworthy information that you or your brand want media to cover. It’s a document that seeks to officially inform media and external stakeholders about something relevant to consumers.
What a press release is NOT:
- A status document
- Random bullet points with no context
- A social media post
Brands have to recognise that, as much as they can blow their own horn, what they say in a press release needs to be of value to external stakeholders and the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) principle must always apply.
To ensure your brand’s press release is considered by media, it MUST:
- Be on a branded template according to the brand CI
- Include a date and place
- Include PR contact details
- Be grammatically correct with aligned text
- Have a brand boilerplate*
- Be written using the brand font
- Make use of the brand personality and tone to avoid brand schizophrenia
Journalists and media are pressed for time, rushing to meet deadlines and, if your release doesn’t grab their attention, it will not be read or will be deleted immediately. First impressions count and attention to detail is key. Your press release needs to speak for you as soon as the journalist opens it for more information and a level of professionalism will ensure your brand stands in good stead.
It is critical that brands take the time to entrust PR professionals to write press releases because they understand the value of a well-constructed press release without the fluff. If brands want media to read what they have to say, they need to respect journalists and their time, and give this much-abused PR tool the respect it deserves.
*Boilerplate: A paragraph at the end of a press release that discloses what the brand or company is about.