As the owner of a several websites I receive dozens of unsolicited press releases each week. It comes with the territory, and I’ve come to expect them. But 99% of them end up in the trash without further action on my part. In fact, most of them are never opened. If you run a business or PR company, then read on – here is some straight feedback on why your pitch gets pitched right into the trash bin.
5 Reasons Your Press Release Sucks
I receive at least 50 e-mails each business day and if you can’t hook me in the first few seconds, your press release is going to the trash, regardless of your product, service, or goal. I have a limited amount of time to run my business and the only way I can succeed is to be ruthless with spam, junk mail, chain letters, and worthless press releases. Yes, I classify most press releases in the same category as spam. Before sending a press release, ask yourself a couple quick questions:
1. What am I trying to accomplish?
Are you trying to get people to visit your website, try a new application, purchase your product? Then say so! The vast majority of press releases are three paragraphs of “industry speak” with no indication of a desired action. If I have to spend time trying to figure out your goal, then you lose.
2. Who is your target audience?
I run a financial website. It’s not difficult to determine that after a quick glance at my website, logo, domain name, etc. Unfortunately, I receive multiple press releases each week that are not closely related to my niche. Medical press releases, organic foods, religion, etc. All wonderful topics. None of them are within the scope my website. Verdict: delete.
3. Who am I addressing this to?
This one irks me the most. “Dear Mr.,” “Hello Mr.,” and “Webmaster,” are not salutations I respond to. My favorite is “hey there,” which I have received numerous times from large PR companies. Seriously, does that Fortune 500 company you work with realize you address bloggers and the press as, “hey there?” I doubt it, and I doubt they would be amused. Try a little professionalism and address your recipient by name.
By the way, GMail is a wonderful tool that previews the first line of the e-mail. If the e-mail isn’t addressed to me, it gets deleted without being opened. My name isn’t that hard to find either – it is the third word on my contact page.
4. Flattery won’t get you anywhere
Yes, you’ve been following my site for months and just love it and share it with all your friends and family and coworkers… which is why you have never contacted me before or left a comment on an article, and you addressed your press release to me as “Dear CashMoneyLife.” Fail.
5. No option to opt out of future press releases
There is a little thing the Federal Trade Commission put out a couple years ago called the CAN-SPAM Act. According to the FTC, the CAN-SPAM Act establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out tough penalties for violations. It applies to:
“any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service,” including email that promotes content on commercial websites. The law makes no exception for business-to-business email.”
Now I don’t profess to be a lawyer, but the way I understand it, that means your press release should give me the option of opting out of all future e-mails. And I want to opt out of the majority of them because they do not apply to me or my business.
How to write a strong press release
Start by addressing each of these issues listed above and your success rates will increase exponentially. Respect the time and intelligence of the recipient and they will in turn be more receptive to your product or service. If not, then give them the option of opting out of your messages. Want more tips? Check out these references: