On average, I receive fifty press releases each day. On top of that, I receive an additional 100 correspondences. My inbox is a disaster area. I have over 300 unread emails in my inbox from the past ten days and it's likely that eighty percent of those are press releases.
The question is: why do I read only some, and not all, of these press releases?
I only read press releases that come from two sources: press release services or from known public relations contacts. Press release services show me, as a journalist, that the business is serious and unless the story is what we call "embargoed," (i.e. given to me exclusively) I know for sure it's open game. My known public relations contacts are PR professionals who I have an established relationship with and who have been explicitly told that it is ok for them to send me press releases. These types of relationships are generally reserved for large businesses or PR firms, so if you own a small business, it is best to use a press release distribution service.
I ignore any press release that includes a file attachment.
Press releases should be written in the generally accepted manner -- plain text. File attachments may contain viruses and it is ridiculous that a simple statement be sent in anything but the body of an email. A fellow journalist also tells me that he frequently downloads his email to his PDA and reads press releases on the go. An attachment will not do in this case.
If the title of the press release does not clarify the subject, why read it?
A simple title such as, "eReleases.com Announces Launch of Newsletter Service" tells me exactly what the press release is about. A title such as, "eReleases.com to Launch Exciting and Fantastic New Service" does little to help me.
Adjectives are bad.
The worst thing you can do to a journalist is try to shape their view before they've had a chance to digest information. Using words such as "amazing" or "exciting," or simply using exclamation marks, is a huge turn off for journalists. It also sets you up for disappointment because a journalist will say to himself, "This isn't amazing or exciting." Think about it this way -- just the facts. You are marketing your business to a member of the media, not a consumer.
Grammar and spelling count.
I've seen too many press releases that have spelling or grammar mistakes in the title. This is a wonderful indicator for any journalist that the company does not have high professional standards.
Consider having a professional writer or service work on your press release.
There is a simple, yet complicated formula to writing press releases. Poorly written press releases are the easiest way to guarantee poor performance. Consider these tips as a starting point on your road to getting media exposure for your business.
Ben Silverman is the Publisher of DotcomScoop.com, a weekly newsletter digest covering the Internet, technology, telecommunications, media and finance sectors. He also contributes a weekly business news column to The