“The press release is dead,” you say. Well now, just calm down, killer.
Businesses will still have to issue official statements to the general public both today and tomorrow. Neatly packaged information (aka “content marketing“) is great, but businesses must also keep their audience up to speed with what’s going on.
However, I full-heartedly agree with the uncomfortable fact that there are quite a few bad public relations practices for press releases — and they drive me crazy, too.
Bad practice 1: Spray-and-pray
There’s nothing wrong with creating a not-so-interesting press release and adding it to your online newsroom. Even though it might not be interesting to anyone outside the organization, these types of press releases add up to your brand’s timeline and progress. Like milestone markers, of sorts.
However, if this is the type of press release that you’ve created, why not just upload it to your online newsroom and be done with it? Do you really have to send it to every journalist on your list even though you know beforehand that they won’t be interested in picking it up?
Not only does promoting these types of press releases cost real time and money, but they also tend to irritate the recipients, too1. This spray-and-pray tactic is potentially causing more harm than anything else.
Bad practice 2: The platitude sickness
Most press releases are infested with platitudes. And as all good writers know — platitudes are a sign of lazy writing.
Make it your personal mission to find platitudes and to destroy them. Write fast, but more importantly — write well. As this becomes a ritual, you’ll develop an “allergy” to corporate platitudes — and removing them will become second nature.
Bad practice 3: Corporate cringe
Many press releases are simply written in bad taste. Unlike many other creative professions, corporate communications have somehow phased out the importance of having great taste as an actual skill.
These are some of the types of corporate cringe that can be found everywhere:
1. Corporate communication that is exaggerated to the point of tone-deafness. “No, people aren’t really that happy on account of your new piece of news.”
2. Corporate communication that makes ridiculous claims that no-one believes in anyway. “No, you’re not a leading-, revolutionary-, innovative-, or game-changing company.”
3. Corporate communication that is unintentionally dorky. “No, it’s not cool — and it never will be — cool to say that you’re cool. That’s just not the way that works.”
4. Corporate communication that is using a sleazy marketing voice. “No, you didn’t just save the planet, so please stop patting yourself on the back so furiously.”
5. Corporate communication that is telling people what they think. “No, everyone’s not really loving your new products or services.”
6. Corporate communication that is simply trying way too hard. “No, screaming louder and making stronger and stronger claims won’t make me care more about what you’re saying.”
7. Corporate communication with a bland tonality. “No, that reads as if it was written by uninspired middle-managers who somewhere along the way lost their passion.”
Bad practice 4: Weak call-to-actions
Imagine someone seeing a link to your press release on LinkedIn — it could happen, right? Then imagine how that person decides to read your press releases all the way through to the end. Such an individual are apparently actively interested in what you have to say, which makes this person highly valuable.
But here’s what’s driving me crazy: People who read your press releases from beginning to end are obviously important. So what call-to-action (CTA) are you offering to this exclusive group of individuals?
“For more information, please contact …”
I swear a kitten dies every time.
Include a clear call-to-action at the end of your press releases. Tell your reader why they should get in touch and explain what’s in it for them if they do. (Anyone who reads your press releases all the way through deserves it.)
Download the classic press release template (zip file contains pdf, pages, and docx).