More on the press release, brevity and coincidence

by Shannon Paul on June 29, 2008

Last week I wrote a post about writing better press releases, err, rather, things to avoid when writing a press release.

Later in the week, Melissa Underwood wrote a post on about a new, online press release grader developed by internet marketing company HubSpot. The press release grader and I definitely agree on many things including avoiding fancy adjectives, aka gobbledygook words, favoring simplicity and some I forgot to mention, like keeping the word count between 250 – 750 words.

However, there were important things that the press release grader checks that I still hadn’t considered, like making sure to include links near the top of the release since preview posts will only feature the first paragraph. Include relevant links to any of the company’s information online that could give the reporter easily accessible background.

In addition to including the boilerplate at the bottom of the release with the About section, other stuff mentioned in the article that didn’t occur to me since I do these on autopilot include:

Contact information – Reporters use this to gather additional information, arrange interviews etc. Be sure to include phone, e-mail even if this information is already your e-mail signature or other materials– don’t assume they have it and make it easy to find.

The end – Since e-mail transmissions can contain all kinds of automatic footers and many software systems are programmed to look for the end of a transmission, always denote the end of your release with three number signs: # # #

Keywords – Making your release SEO friendly is great and something to consider when creating content that will be posted online, but in my opinion, loading your release up with irrelevant words to encourage hits is akin to spam and doesn’t get the right eyeballs looking at your content. They call it organic keyword searching for a reason; don’t muck it up.

Certainly, adding usable images that won’t hog space in anyone’s inbox or quarantined somewhere on the server are a big help, too.

And, yes, I am all about using Web technology to assemble and distribute interactive, multimedia press releases. But, sometimes for simple announcements, well-written text and some images are enough to start getting the word out about your company. PR is still about building relationships and sharing information — not incorporating technology for technology’s sake.

Melissa Underwood, @texasgirl11 on Twitter, used Twitter to find out what PR pros thought about the press release grader and used the tweeted answers she received in the sidebar of her post. Coincidentally, she quoted a tweet from one of my colleagues, Ari Adler, @aribadler on Twitter who acknowledged the tool’s utility, but said, “it’s no match for experience”.

Twitter’s 140-character limit for questions and answers leads to the kind of brevity any journalist, or press release grader, has got to love.

# # #

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

June 29, 2008 Dharmesh Shah 1

Thanks for trying out the press release grader.

If you have any suggestions for how we might make the software even more useful, please share them. We’re always looking for ways to improve.

Dharmesh Shah
Founder, HubSpot


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