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Why treating your press releases like 'Mad Libs' breeds apathy

By Bana Jobe | Posted: July 15, 2014

I won’t tell you the press release is dead. I also won’t tell you nobody cares about press releases anymore. I won’t tell you, but reporters probably will. (And other people will, too.)

Why? Because the worst offenders have messed things up for all of us with press releases like this:

__(Company)__ Announces Groundbreaking __(Announcement)___

__(Company)___, the premier, turn-key provider of ___(product or service)___, has announced ___(announcement)____, which will revolutionize the way ____(consumers or businesses)____ do ____(activity)____.

“We are so thrilled to make this announcement,” said Spokesperson, CEO of ___(Company)___. “This news will surely be a cutting-edge game-changer in the ____(type of industry)___ industry.”
Catch my drift? Press releases are so crammed with nonsensical, exaggerated PR jargon that reporters have turned a blind eye to the bounty of them that hit their inbox daily.

What’s the fix? An easy one, if you take a cue from the content marketing side of the fence: Write the release as a journalist would write an article. Few reporters plump up their stories with glorified, puffy superlatives. They give the facts, straight and simple, and tell a story. The only thing you as the PR flack should be “plumping” that release with is SEO keywords and links (but even then, take heed.)

Here are my top three tips for writing a press release:

1. Never, under any circumstances, use the above "Mad Libs" as a template for a release. It’s guaranteed to fail in two big ways: Reporters won’t read it, and  Search engines won’t pick it up (who searches for “cutting-edge healthcare game-changers” anyway?). 

2. Be one with the reporter. Put on that journalist’s hat and craft the press release the way she or he would – as a factual story that focuses on the “Why should I care?” factor. Skip the embellished adjectives and favor the facts, and write it the way you’d think a reporter would.

3. Be one with the searcher. Since SEO is almost half the press release equation these days, the words you use are as important to the Googler as they are to the journalist. Consider what your audience might search for when looking for that content, and ensure those words make a cameo in your release.

Have more tips to share? Let me know in the comments!

Bana Jobe is an account manager at Marketwave, a full-service PR and marketing hybrid based in Addison, Texas. A version of this story originally appeared on the agency's blog.






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