If you’re not a detail-oriented person, then wading through the tiny details of a press release can be hard. Often with a long project and multiple drafts, you don’t want to read through it again. Yet with any press release submission, it’s vital for the document to be free from errors. Use this 7-item checklist to help rid your press release of easy-to-miss problems before distribution.
Double-check that your main information is correct before you send a press release out. These include the answers to who, what, when, where, why, and how questions.
Have you spelled everyone’s names correctly? Double-check because even Smith and Jones can have alternate, unconventional spellings like Smythe and Jewnes.
Make sure you know which day it is. It’s easy to write a press release a few days ahead of time and then release it with phrasing that’s a day off. Be sure you know which day of the week it is and have all the proper dates.
If you’re creating your own press release checklist, add separate items for each of these basic pieces of information.
If you’re submitting a press release through a press release service, be sure that the date and time you’ve scheduled the release to go out is correct. When you coordinate social media accounts, blog posts, news releases, email blasts, and other communications, you need to make sure they’re all in the right order.
Be sure your settings are for the right time zone, too. Even if you set everything to go out in five-minute intervals, if one is set for Eastern time and one is set for Pacific time, your order will still be messed up.
Did you include a photo the press can publish? Many news articles are published online now, and including a picture is a must for online publishers.
Anyone reading online expects to see a photo. Photos help capture attention and relay part of the story.
Read through everything before submitting, looking for press release style mistakes. News should always be in AP style, so even if something is technically incorrect, if it’s formatted incorrectly the press will notice.
They’ll have to put extra time in to edit it, and they may choose not to include it at all if it takes too much time to edit.
One way to make sure you’re catching all the typos is to set your press release down for a few hours, or even overnight if you have the time. Put it away, save your files, and come back to it later. This will help you have fresh eyes to see any potential mistakes.
Get a coworker to read through it for you. Having a person who’s new to the document look through it can help catch glaring mistakes or awkward wording. You have to be open to criticism, though, if you go this route.
Who should the press contact if they have further questions? Your company may be small enough there is only one person for all media interviews.
Yet you may also have someone who would speak to the press for each department. Depending on the news and the information, you may need to adjust the basic contact info you include with each release.
Have a plan in place for fielding the inquiries. Will you include the contact person’s direct line or a general number where a receptionist or other gatekeeper can help field the calls?
Is there a general email inbox with more than one person responsible for checking it or will all queries go to a specific email for the main contact person?
Does your headline garner attention? If you want people to read the information you’re presenting, you need to include a headline that hooks the reader.
There are plenty of ways to get someone’s attention. Edgy topics always grab attention, but you shouldn’t fake a headline just to include the word “murder” or other edgy language. Be sure your headlines aren’t misleading.
Use numbers by digit in your headlines to get attention. If you can rephrase a headline to work in a number, you’ll turn more heads than if you state a fact or get straight to the point.
Mysterious language can also create curiosity. Use words that make people wonder, like “unusual” or “suspicious.” Here are some other words that incite curiosity:
Trigger people without offending them. You don’t want to turn readers away, but you do want to hit a switch that causes them to look again.
Practice working with headlines even when you aren’t writing an immediate story. You’ll improve your skills and get better the more you practice!
Have you made sure that all your research is accurate? If you aren’t sure, then you shouldn’t publish it. Before you claim something as fact, make sure you have a credible source for your information.
Science journals and experts are great sources, as well as paid company researchers and reliable news outlets. Government organizations are often credible sources as well.
Be sure to provide information to the press that they can quote without worrying about its reliability.
When you have a press release submission you need to get out by a certain deadline, it can be easy to send it without checking for errors. After all, you’ve been editing it for hours or days, and there can’t possibly be anything wrong.
Yet small errors can ruin your press release and decrease its impact. Using the tips above can help you avoid these annoying problems and get out a smooth story for the next news cycle.
For more help with press releases, contact us.