Here are just a few...
- Is a press release necessary? Can you get the same results with a short statement or by sending out an advisory that a spokesperson is available for comment? Think it through.
- Does your release answer all of the logical questions? Reporters are trained to look for the Who, What, When, Where and Why, so make sure you provide those answers.
- Is the subject line of the email you're sending compelling enough to open? Reporters are sifting through an avalanche of email all day long. You don't want them to hit the delete key without even looking at the release.
- Are you targeting the right reporters? If it's a general press release, it may well deserve wide distribution. But, if it's a specialized subject, send it only to those reporters and editors who may actually be interested.
- Is your press release written in such a way that most people will understand, or is it full of technical jargon and inside baseball terminology? Avoid buzz words and cliches. Judge your release on whether it could appear in print on its own.
- Is your release more than two pages? If it is, you're wasting your time. Most reporters don't have the time or the interest.
- Are your quotes realistic? Make sure they are words someone would actually say (see buzz words and technical jargon above).
- Is there an image or a graphic that would help tell your story? Include it with the release. Even if a newspaper or website would rather have its own photographer snap a photo, the image you supply can still help persuade the reporter to cover your story.
- Is it accurate? Make sure names and titles are spelled correctly and that dates and times are accurate. Nothing worse than sending a release and then discovering a major flaw. Ideally, have someone else edit it.
So, you can see that crafting a press release is not a simple process. Use these questions to help guide you the next time you're considering whether drafting a press release makes sense.