Neal Kwatra Shares 5 of the Worst Press Release Mistakes
As an entrepreneur, one of the best things you can do is to talk to a reporter. Sending press releases to the right people may generate enough media coverage to give your start-up a vital boost. However, when press releases are done incorrectly, you may find yourself blacklisted, which will prevent you from getting the coverage your product deserves. If you decide to talk to journalists about your company, here are a few tips to help you avoid these fatal mistakes:
1. Using a Generic Email Domain
There's nothing that says amateur work quite like a generic email domain. Your start-up should have a website and corresponding email address. Use that address when you're sending business emails; it's far more professional and more likely to get a click.
Those journalists and media outlets you're sending these emails to likely get hundreds, if not thousands of pitches daily. Every step you take towards looking more authoritative, professional, and legitimate increases the chances of getting that vital click. If they don't click your email, they'll never see your pitch.
2. Emailing the Wrong People
One of the first things you'll do as an entrepreneur is to figure out your niche. What do you have to offer and who will you offer it to? Figuring out your niche gives your business focus. It'll determine how you develop your product, how you design your marketing campaigns, even how branding will go.
Media outlets and journalists do the same thing. They don't write for everyone. Send emails to the right people, show them that you did the research, and demonstrate your awareness of their target audience. Even if they open your email and publish something related to your product, you probably don't share the same audience. You're not going to get anywhere by spamming every journalist you can find with your pitch; this is precision work, so find the right people and pitch to them.
Entrepreneurs are required to be persistent if they want to succeed. The problem is when they don't know when to quit, particularly in the case of journalists. If you don't hear from a press contact, assume they're not interested. They're always looking for the next big story, and if they thought your start-up could be it, they'd let you know.
Any journalist worth their salt won't let anything slip through the cracks, so you can rest assured that they saw your email and if it caught their interest, they'll get back to you. Being a bother might turn a journalist’s interest into annoyance and could result in placement on a blacklist.
4. Using Copied and Pasted Messages
Email communication isn't exactly exciting, but it is necessary. Copy-pasted messages may seem like a good idea, as it'll cut down the amount of effort you need per email, but it will give the impression that you didn't care enough to write them a specific message. The moment they sense that it's a copy pasted message is the moment they send it to the trash.
Templates are fine and can save you a lot of time, but make sure that you’re not using the marketing version of Mad Libs. The only part of your email template should be the information related to the company. Everything else must be customized to the recipient and written from scratch. Let your company's branding and personality shine through the email and it'll stand out from the rest.
5. Poor Grammar
There is nothing that will ruin your press release faster than bad grammar. Take the time to run it through a spell-checker and have someone proofread it before you click the send button. Journalists write for a living, so a press release full of spelling errors and garbled grammar is anathema to them. Everything, from the subject line to the recipient's name, must be spelled correctly.
“Media coverage can help accelerate your success as an entrepreneur, but only if it's done correctly,” stated Neal Kwatra, CEO of Metropolitan Public Strategies. The good news is that these mistakes are easy to avoid. Give journalists the respect they deserve, and they'll likely give your start-up a chance.