The debate rages on about whether news releases are less relevant than ever.
BL Ochman, who used to do a lot of publicity work for her clients, says she stopped writing news releases a long time ago and, instead, prefers chatty, customized pitch letters. (See “How to Write a Pitch Letter More Powerful Than a News Release.”)
But the fact remains that many Publicity Hounds still write press releases. That’s why you must do everything possible to make your releases so compelling that they capture a reporter’s interest within five seconds.
Here’s something you can do to make that happen. Try to banish the following words from your press releases:
Why? Because announcements are not news. The gist of the announcement is news. Besides, an “announcement” sounds so contrived and overused.
Let’s say you want to publicize a fund-raiser that your group will sponsor two months from now. Many people would write the release saying “The 5-mile run for multiple sclerosis was announced yesterday…”
That sentence immediately dates your release. It makes it sound as though the news occurred yesterday when, in fact, it won’t happen for another two months. The best news releases are those with present tense or future tense leads. Like this:
“The Bay View Kiwanis Club will try to raise $20,000 for multiple sclerosis with a 5-mile run on October 17.”
You can’t always eliminate those four words from your releases. But I want you to pause every time you are tempted to write them. Then ask yourself, “Is there another word I can substitute?” or “If the announcement isn’t the news, what is?”