Yes, even with the increased use of social media by PR pros to inform consumers and the public overall about their brands, traditional news releases are still relevant.
In April, more than 90% of respondents in a PR News/Cision survey said they planned to either hold steady or distribute more press releases via e-mail in 2012. So the digital media era has not completely taken over just yet. Writing effective press releases is still an important skill PR pros need to possess.
With that in mind, we offer the following mistakes to avoid when crafting press releases.
Bamboozling the recipient: Unless you were actually engaged in an ongoing conversation, putting “RE:” in a subject line is manipulative. Once your recipient realizes it was only a ploy to get his or her attention, annoyance or rage will be the likely response—not coverage.
Feeding them spam: Certain words trigger alerts for spam filters. Examples of such words are “free,” “you,” “mortgage” and “order now,” says Barbara Ulmi, head of marketing at e-mail solutions company GraphicMail. Complete lists of most frequently used spam keywords are available online. Excessive punctuation (like capitals and exclamation marks) also trigger spam filters. Not only that, it’s a cheap trick: The pitch might be a matter of urgency for you, but is it really so urgent for your target?
Become overly social: Twitter and Facebook are popular tools for PR pros, but leave them off press releases. Don’t use firstname.lastname@example.org as a contact. Use a real person, and add their social profiles.
Overdoing links: Embedding a link to your company website gives readers a convenient way to learn more about the products and services you provide. But don’t overdo it. Search engines are suspicious of copy with too many links and may even write your release off as Web spam. Also, some sites convert press releases to plain text, which will result in long, unsightly URLs appearing throughout your copy—a turnoff to human readers.