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3 sure-fire ways to annoy an editor with your press (or news) release

Of interest to new PR coordinators or junior B2B PR account managers


Depending on the source, a news release may be defined as a media release that covers something that is currently happening or has already happened, while a press release covers something that is still in the future. A further distinction is that a news release is expected to be objective, pure news, while a press release may tend to have a marketing element. And finally, the term press release is a term that has been around forever, and news release is a much newer term.


Normally, a B2B company will be dealing with the trade press, so for the sake of simplicity, and so as to avoid being a pedantic pain in the neck, I just use the term press release.


The trade press is much more receptive to corporate press releases than typical news media outlets are, and they are certainly much more forgiving of poorly written releases than mainstream news magazines or websites. But even the long-suffering editors of trade journals grit their teeth and dig in their heels when they are faced with the following PR transgressions:


You embed your photo in your press release

If you want an editor to include your amazing photo alongside your press release, please do not embed your photo in the Word document (or even worse, the PDF). There is a loss of resolution and overall quality, that will likely make it difficult or impossible to use, at least in a print edition. And even if the publication is online—and can thus use a lower-res photo—why force the editor to extract or copy the photo from the document? That brings up another excellent way to annoy an editor…


You send your press release as a PDF

Editors like to be able to cut and paste the text from your press release, sometimes directly into the content management system of their website. That is difficult with a PDF. Why would you ever send your press release as anything other than a Word document? The key is to make it as easy as possible for an editor to use your information. We’ve been told by editors that some companies—and even some agencies! —regularly submit their releases in this format. Editors will edit your submissions. (It’s right there in the title!) Sending your submission as a PDF doesn’t “lock in” anything. It just forces someone to retype your release or go through the added steps of converting the PDF to Word and then re-formatting.


You include a lot of fancy formatting in your document

Some inexperienced communications people go all out to make their press release look like it is a page in a magazine or newspaper. However, each publication has its own layout style, and all the work spent on the press release document, getting the text to flow around the photo just so, for example, will have to be removed by the editor before they can do their edit or re-write of the piece. Sometimes the press release will be full of italics and bolding and underlining—all of which will often have to be removed by the harried editor or an equally harried assistant before it can be used.


Some minimal amount of formatting, for the purpose of making the press release easier for the editor to read, is acceptable. For example, a headline will be in a larger font to make it stand out. But formatting that goes much further than this just becomes, well, annoying.


Bottom-line…

Obviously, we believe that it is best to retain the services of a content marketing and PR agency such as ours to handle these tasks for you. We know the editors, and we know that these mistakes can cost you a certain degree of cooperation and can degrade their trust in your competence. We know this because we talk to these editors all the time. They tell us their pet peeves. And we give them press releases crafted in such a way as to avoid these and many other annoyances so that our clients have the best shot at getting their stories published.

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