Friday, 13 December 2013

How to write a press release that will not piss me off

I think the title pretty much says it all, doesn't it? I get press releases all the time, and some of these really, REALLY piss me off sometimes. So here's a nice list of things that any future senders of press releases can refer to the next time they send one to me.

Very important note - these are MY personal preferences for press releases, based on how I use them for the publication I work for. Maybe some editors like being called bloggers, maybe some publications' house style is to put brand names in CAPITAL LETTERS ... that's their problem. This is MY list, and if you follow them, you'll make my job easier, and my stress levels lower.

Let's get right to it, shall we?


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1) SIMPLE SUBJECTS
Keep your subject line clear and simple. I get dozens of press releases everyday, and it would be REALLY helpful if you had a subject line that tells me PRECISELY what the press release is about before I even open it. Something like "Happy Chicken launches new Duck platter" or if it's an invite, put "Invite: Launch of new Happy Chicken Duck Platter on 6/12".

And really, putting things like "THE MOST IMPORTANT EMAIL YOU WILL READ TODAY!" will automatically get your email sent into the trash.

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2) SALUTATIONS
Take some effort to customize your email accordingly - even if you are essentially sending the same thing to a dozen different journalists. And if you HAVE to send it in ONE MASS EMAIL, a simple "Hi!" would suffice (for me at least), and would be better than "Dear Editor/journalist/writer/columnist/blogger/janitor...".

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3) RELEVANCE MATTERS
I once got a press release for diapers. I don't know why, because I don't write about anything that comes REMOTELY CLOSE to requiring diapers. So naturally, I binned it without taking a second look. See, relevance matters when you're sending press releases. You don't send an invite for a rock concert to the food editor, or a press release about fashion to the motoring journalist. So before you click SEND, take a minute to think - will this editor REALLY consider publishing this? Is it even RELEVANT to their publication?

BTW, it also doesn't make sense to send a press release in CHINESE to an ENGLISH PAPER. Just saying.

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4) MASS EMAILING
I know you have LOTS of media contacts, and you would LOVE for ALL of them to know you have an EXCLUSIVE INVITE for your event, but do you really have to send me an email with all the emails of the hundred other people you've sent that "EXCLUSIVE INVITE" to? Not only is it sloppy, it also means I can see who else you've sent that same email to, and others can see my email too, even those I would rather not give my email to. At least take some effort to HIDE those other emails lar.

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5) SHOW ME THE DETAILS
If I eventually DO get around to opening your email, I would appreciate it if you could have a "Details of the event" paragraph that gives me CLEARLY the following information. Something like this would be nice:

Event: Launch of new Happy Chicken Duck Platter
Date: Tuesday, 6 December 2013
Time: 2pm-5pm 
Venue: Happy Chicken, Jalan Ayamgoreng, KL.

That way, I don't have to skim THE ENTIRE EMAIL looking for the date, time and venue of the event, AND can easily input it into my calender.

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6) TEXT IS KING
Yes, I know you want your press release or invite to stand out, which is why you've specially designed one that looks like a beautiful Christmas card, complete with sounds and animation, but really, I'd be a lot happier if you just sent me the information and invite in simple TEXT FORM.

Yes, please send it to me in TEXT. Not in an IMAGE file, not in a PDF. In TEXT. That makes it easy for me to cut and paste if I need to, or to add it to my calender right away.

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7) SHORT AND SWEET
Keep your email simple, concise, and easy to understand. No need for long-winded, flowery, fancy-schmancy introductions that go on for three paragraphs before you even mention the event you're inviting for. In short... GET TO THE BLOODY POINT.

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8) SIMPLE ENGLISH
No, really, simple English is fine. No need for bombastic words. Just get the point across in nice, simple English. I won't look down on you just because you used "need" instead of "require", or use words with less than 5 letters in them.

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9) CAP THE CAPS LOCK
I know some clients require you to HIGHLIGHT their TRADEMARKED NAME like by putting it in CAPITAL LETTERS LIKE THIS, but here's a friendly tip - we will almost NEVER use use that format, and will ALWAYS change it back to lower-case for print. So when you write "HAPPY CHICKEN today launched their DUCK PLATTER (trademark)" in your press release, you're giving us one extra thing to do while processing your press release.

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10) ATTACH ACCORDINGLY
If you have bios of your subjects, or company profiles, I'd suggest putting them in an attachment instead of lumping them all in the main email. That way I won't get bored and fall asleep will be able to easily access the information I require without having to go through the entire email again. Ditto images - if you have a lot of them, try Dropboxing them or something. I usually open my emails on the phone, so the fewer large attachments, the better please.


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That's pretty much it for now. I'll add more if I think of more, but the bottom line is, if all future press releases I receive follow these tips, I'd be a much happier bunny. THANKS!

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