It’s too long
If your story’s worth telling, you should be able to summarise it in a couple of paragraphs.
Your ‘top line’ should be ten words or less. If you’re struggling with this, imagine your story is going to be covered on TV/radio and think how the presenter would introduce it. That should give you your ten word top line. One side of A4 is more than enough.
Your ‘top line’ is buried at the bottom of your press release
Most journalists gets hundreds of press releases a day. They barely get time to open them all – never mind read down to the bottom. So don’t make the mistake of burying your ‘top line’ at the bottom of your press release. Get it in the first sentence.
Your organisation is mentioned in the first few words
I’m sorry to break it to you, but journalists aren’t interested in you or your organisation; they’re interested in covering great stories that are perfect for their audience. So unless there’s a compelling reason for doing so – you’re an Anti-Smoking charity that has suddenly decided to back smoking, for example (unlikely I know, but I think you get my drift) – it should be story first, organisation second.
It’s full of jargon
Busy journalists don’t have time to digest technical or professional jargon. So keep it simple and in plain, clear English. Imagine you’re telling a friend about the story – one who doesn’t know anything about your sector or organisation – and you should have it about right.
You use 10 words where two will do
If you want to get journalists to read your copy, it must be simple and direct. So avoid big words, hyperbolic language and anything that sounds like it should be in an academic essay.
Your quotes are boring
Quotes shouldn’t be used to state facts or cite statistics. They should be used to bring the story alive. So tell stories, use visual imagery and anything that appeals to the senses. And make sure they sound like a real person said them – not a robot. If they’re boring, journalists won’t use them.
Your subject header is boring/obtuse
Your subject header should be attention grabbing. It should arouse curiosity and make a journalist want to open your email. But don’t try to be clever; a simple statement that summarises the story is usually more effective than a witty headline that sounds good, but doesn’t give the journalist any idea what the story is about.
You might also enjoy: how to write exciting copy about boring things.