Why News Releases Fail And What to Do About It

From: Ameen Kamadia

The following article is from Paul Krupin. I have used Paul's service in the past, and it is something you should check out if you are using press releases to boost your business.


Why News Releases Fail -- The Most Common Reasons & What to Do About It

By Paul J. Krupin

Sorry about my otaku with this issue (otaku = more than a hobby, a little
less than an obsession).

Many of you may know me, since I run Imediafax, the Internet to Media Fax
Service. I send out over a million news releases a year for people via fax
and email. You probably think that I’ve got news releases failing on me day
in and day out.

Actually, I don’t. The news releases I write and send out for people do
quite well. My clients are quite happy with me because they are successful
with their outreach efforts.

It’s the draft news releases that people send to me that are my problem.

Fixing the problems I see in the news releases people send me takes
forever. It is also very painful.

I’ve seen a lot of news release failure over the years, and I now know what
the key problems look like and how to fix them.

My plight as a publicist is that I spend a lot of time educating my clients
trying to get them to understand the psychology of dealing with the media.

The rubber meets the road in the news release because this single sheet of
paper is the key nexus for all communications with the media. The
importance of the copy on a news release cannot be overstated. It has to
be free of negative issues or factors that will reduce or eliminate media
interest and response. One fatal error and it’s all over.

So identifying the problems and revising the news releases is crucial. I
spend a tremendous amount of time and effort trying to avoid sending out
news releases with problems still in them.

The issue is that when people send me news releases, it often takes a long,
long time to identify and communicate the problems, and then more time
again to explain and negotiate all the word changes with the clients, and
more time still to finalize the news release and have it ready and approved
for transmittal.

Honestly ­ it can be very painful for all involved. I’m quite brutal on my
clients, since their success is all that matters. I don’t pull any punches. My comment process can bruise a lot of highly inflated egos of some otherwise very accomplished people, on the way to a problem free news release that maximizes the chances of success when finally sent. Lots of people think they can write a news release. Very few of them can do it
very well.

They simply haven’t followed the media response to enough news releases to
learn the errors that are made when they write news releases. They haven’t
yet learned what the mistakes are, so there is no learning from continuous

This is where the blood, sweat and tears of the copywriting business is
truly found. It gets even tougher when another professional publicist
wrote the news release for the client. Now the client is getting opposing
advice from two professionals. One says “Make it Hot” and the other says
“Cool it”. What’s a publicist to do?

So my motivations for doing this article are really quite selfish. I want
to spend less time doing this. My life will be significantly improved if my
clients send me news releases that take less time and energy to fix. Very
simply, for each and every news release that comes in and doesn’t have
these problems, I’ll free myself to spend more time doing things that are
more profitable for my clients and me.

The issues listed here have all been identified as reasons for the failure
of a news release. This is based on over 20 years of experience in dealing
with the aftermath ­ the actual number and quality of responses generated
from the transmittal of a news release.

So here are the most common reasons why news releases fail:

1. You wrote an advertisement. It’s not a news release at all. It
sells product. It fails to offer solid news of real tangible interest,
value-added information, education or entertainment.

2. You wrote for a minority, not for a majority of people in the
audience. You simply won’t compete with other news releases that clearly
are written for a larger demographic of the media audience.

3. You are the center of attention, not the media audience. You focus
on your business and your marketing, instead of things the editor and his
or her audience will be interested in.

4. You forgot to put the five W’s up front. (WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN
and WHY THE AUDIENCE WILL BE INTERESTED). You didn’t clearly and
succinctly tell the media why the audience would be interested in this.

5. You are too wordy and text dense. You focused on details and
minutia, instead of the most important ideas, issues, factors, facts, and
news angles. You fail to address the real significant impacts your story
has on people.

6. You place too much information on one page ­ the one page news
release has a font size so small an editor needs a magnifying glass to read

7. You included corporate logos and other non-persuasive low value
added graphics that distract the editor from your key message. You may
have also used an unusual fancy font or a file format that turns to
gobbledygook when it goes through a fax machine.

8. You wrote a personally biased article for the media to publish,
instead of pitching the idea to the media and the objective reasons why the
media audience will be interested.

9. You wrote about features and facts, and forgot to explain what it
means to real people. Tell a story about real people. Add in real life
human interest.

10. You wrote about how your news ties in to someone else’s fame and glory.
Forget it. Never stand in the shadow of someone else. Make your own
light. Tell your own story.

11. Your news release responds to something that just happened. You’re too
late. You’re behind the eight ball. Forget it. Get out in front of the

12. You included too much hype, self-laudatory praise, pithy quotes,
useless testimonials, jargon or gobbledygook. Get rid of it.

13. You may have also identified prior media coverage, which indicates it’s
no longer a new issue. Get rid of it. Let each news release stand on it’s
own two feet.

14. You tried to impress and be clever or innovative but you come off
naïve, less than expert, biased, flippant, arrogant, or crazy. Tone it
down. Get straight.

15. You made vague and unsubstantiated claims, or wild and outrageous
claims, or you included a statement that simply rubs the media the wrong
way. Get rid of them.

16. You are trying to be different, just for the sake of it, but you come
off eccentric. Forget it. Don’t create a false or inflated image. Be

17. You wrote a rant and rave, worthy of a letter to the editor, instead of
a problem solving tips article, worthy of a feature story. Decide what you
want, put your best effort into it.

18. You are simply not credible. It could be your ideas are simply not
well thought out, or that you have offered old well-worn material, or that
you are too extreme or controversial, or not qualified. You may not be
expert enough, or sufficiently qualified, to make the statements, compared
to others in your field. You need to present information that qualifies
you properly and adequately.

19. You provided poor contact information. You need to identify the best
single point of contact and the correct phone number so interested media
can reach you and get the best possible attention and response from you to
meet their needs. One key person, one phone, no fax, one email address, and one URL (with no long string addresses).

20. You did not include a clear media call for action. You didn’t tell the
media what you want them to do with your news release. You need to tell
them what you are asking for or suggesting or offering. Then you need to
offer the media incentives value-added reasons to do so, like free review
copies, free test samples, interview questions and answers, media kits with
story angles and stats and data, relevant photographs, etc.

21. You did not incorporate and integrate a primary response mechanism. You need to include a value-added reason, which motivates the editor to publish or mention your contact information, which will generate calls, traffic,
interviews, or requests for more information. This usually means something
unique and of special value to the audience, that the editor feels good
about mentioning. Use an offer for a free problem solving report.

22. You sent the release to the wrong media. Target the media that your
clients read, watch and listen to when they are in the right mood, that is,
receptive to hearing about your news, and willing to take action when they
get your message. Work with your publicist to target the right media.

23. You rely on a single fax or an email to produce an avalanche of media
calls. You conduct no follow up. Get real. Follow up properly and you
can triple or quadruple your media response rate. Better still, you can
ask the editors “what can I give you to support a feature story and meet
your needs”.

Finally, the biggest reason for news release failure is one of attitude.
How do you define success or failure? It’s called unrealistic expectations.

Get real. You won’t get rich off one news release. You’re chances of
getting famous are just about as slim.

You might be able to break even.

Look at your investment and compare it to what you need to break even on
your investment. If you need to sell 100 books to cover the costs of a
$500 outreach effort, you need ten articles because each article only
produces ten sales. So that’s your break even goal. More books per
article, means less articles will satisfy your needs.

You may simply have to be realistic and understand that while you are
wildly interested in the topic, it may not have the broad general public
interest that you have for the subject. If you wrote an article that has
local interest and you expect national media to pay attention, think again.

If you want to be on the Oprah Winfrey Show, then you'd better pray because
chances of doing it off one news release are very slim, near zero in fact.
Get real. If she calls, then congratulations are in order. But don’t count
on it.

If you wrote an advertisement and wanted a feature story and interviews,
don’t be surprised if the only media to call is the advertising manager
offering you a package deal. You get what you ask for. What you offer is
often times what you will get.

Even if you do get publicity, it may not come out exactly the way you want
it. More often than not, the bigger the media, the less likely they are to
run contact information.

Often times, the quality may be there while the numbers are not.

One or two quality media responses may be what you want or need. If you get
that, it’s a success.

One article in USA Today may out perform ten articles in small dailies and
weeklies in the mid-west.

On the other hand, it may not. The small high quality articles may
outperform the small mention in the big media.

Similarly, one quality 30-minute interview on a well-liked talk show on a
radio station in the middle of nowhere out in the mid-west, will likely
outsell a five-minute interview on an Arbitron rated radio station in the
middle of the morning talk show in a major metropolitan area. You can't
tell the listening quality of the audience.

So when you write a news release please review it against these criteria to
see if you've made any of these errors. Then fix each and every one of them
yourself, and when you are done, feel free to send me your final draft.
I’ll be happy to take a look at it.

So listen to your publicist. Heed these warnings and reduce the risks of
failure. Fail to pay attention to these issues, proceed at your own risk.

Paul J. Krupin is the author of the book “Trash Proof News Releases” and creator of IMEDIAFAX - The Internet to Media Fax Service.

His service transmits news releases to custom targeted media lists via fax and e-mail

Visit www.Imediafax.com

There are more articles, strategy and tactics at the Imediafax.com website.

You can also download the free pdf file ebook version of his classic manual for publicity practitioners, "Trash Proof News Releases" so to be updated and released in a brand new second edition.

Happy Originating!




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