4 questions to ask before sending a press release

Promoting an event or news item? Don’t litter the Web and clog inboxes with a lousy release. Answer these questions first.

The Internet is flooded with lousy content. Much of that lousy content is composed of thousands, maybe millions of worthless press releases.

You know the kind. You’ve probably read a few of them—perhaps even written them. Once you reach the end, all you can say is, “Huh? What’s the news?”

How can you make sure you aren’t adding to the Internet litter with your releases?

The first step is simple: Make sure your event or announcement warrants the writing and distribution of a release. Here are four questions to answer before writing a press release.

1. Will anyone care about this?

All those terrible press releases have one thing in common: No one cares what they have to say. When it comes time to write a release, you need to picture your target reader. First, you need to think about the reporters or bloggers who would read your release and want to cover the news. What is their beat? What topics do their blogs cover? Is your story in line with what they might be looking to cover? Would anyone want to cover what you’re talking about?

From there you need to think about the end user—the person you want to attend your event or learn about whatever news you have. In other words, your customer. Is that person, the one you want sending you his or her hard-earned money, going to care about whatever it is you’re talking about? If the answer is “No,” it probably does not warrant the writing of a press release.

2. Does your press release cover new ground?

When you’re submitting your press releases online, reputable sites have a few different rules and regulations. The first criterion is often that the release offers something new. This is often determined by the title and first sentence of the release. If the site content managers don’t see evidence of something new, they’re likely going to reject the release.

Of course, lower quality sites will accept pretty much anything, as their standards aren’t as high; hence all those sub-par releases out there. But do you really want a link from one of those sites?

3. Have I already issued a press release about this?

People rehash articles all the time on the Web to try and get new blog posts. As long as they aren’t plagiarizing, the practice is generally not frowned upon (too much).

However, that’s not the case with press releases. If you’ve already written a release about this event in the past, there is zero reason to write another. So if the event has been covered, don’t hound people with a release that has the same old information. All you’re going to do is annoy people and burn bridges. The only exception is if you’re offering a new angle on the story, other than just announcing the event again.

4. When is your event occurring?

If you have an upcoming event, you need to make sure you get the press release out on time. For instance, if you have an award ceremony in a few hours that you want the public to attend, writing a press release today is going to be a waste of time. Write it in advance or don’t write it at all.

On the other hand, if the event had some sort of positive outcome, it’s OK to write a release about that (even though it already occurred). For example, if you held an award ceremony and had a record attendance, you might write a release about the record you broke.

Any other questions you ask before drafting and sending a release? Share them in the comments section.

Mickie Kennedy is the CEO and founder of eReleases and blogs at PR Fuel, where a version of this article originally appeared.

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