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1. Providing insufficient or wrong information. Particularly telephone numbers. Releases must be complete, accurate and specific.
2. Writing too long. They should be no longer than two pages.
3. Sending it too late. Mail or fax it at least two weeks before an event, preferably three or four.
4. Sending a release with no news value. News is what happens that is different. If it isn't different, it isn't news.
5. Blatant commercialism. Using flowery words and phrases such as "spectacular," "incredible" and "the only one of its kind."
6. Omitting a contact name and phone number. At the top of the first page in the left corner, let editors know who they can call if they have questions.
7. Calling after you send a release. Questions like "Did you get my news release?" or "Do you know when it will be printed?" will brand you as a pest.
Don't follow up with a phone call to see if the media got your release, unless you are absolutely sure that someone in the newsroom will check for you. Most reporters and editors don't have time.
***Bonus Sin: Using outdated media reference books. Double-check to see if the person to whom you are sending the news release still works there, and that the address is the same. A news release sent to an editor who left the paper ten years ago eventually will be routed to the right person, but they'll think you don't care about the paper or who works there.
Joan Stewart, a former newspaper editor, publishes "The Publicity Hound's Tips of the Week," a free electronic newsletter. Subscribe at http://www.PublicityHound.com and receive free by autoresponder the handy checklist "81 Reasons to Send a News Release."